Tag Archive | technique

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!

Simplicity 2480 – The Jacket – Part 4

DSCN0984With the pockets now completed, it was finally time to stitch the jacket! The first step was to insert the zipper. Remembering the lessons that I had learned from inserting the zipper in the little girl’s peplum jacket, this zipper sewed in much easier. And I did not need to move the needle over to sew the zipper on like I did the last time. The only challenge I faced with this zipper was deciding just how long I wanted the zipper to be.

Did I want it to extend into the collar or stop just before the collar? DSCN0807

The pattern called for the zipper to be inserted into the collar, but If I stopped the zipper at the collar, I could attach the collar as I would the collar of a camp shirt, finishing it off with a little twill tape.

If I followed the pattern instead and inserted the zipper into the collar, some hand stitching would be required to finish the collar. Now, you know how much I just “love” hand stitching, so you can guess which plan I was leaning towards, but then I remembered that I was making this jacket to learn so I decided to follow the pattern and insert the zipper into the collar, and then do the required hand stitching. After sewing on the zipper and facings, I hand stitched the edge of the collar to the back of the jacket. This went a lot smoother than I expected it to. I think I did a pretty good job on the hand stitching and that it will hold up with wearing.

Now that it is done I am pleased with the results of how I attached the zipper, collar and facings. DSCN0737Before I started this pattern, I read some pattern reviews for this pattern on the internet and one of the things mentioned about this pattern was that the sleeves were extremely wide. I could see this as I traced the sleeve part of the pattern, so I decided, based on the size of my wrists, to grade 4 inches out of the the width of the sleeves starting at the wrist.

I think the wearer of this jacket will like the thinner sleeves and it saved on fabric. I inserted the elastic at the bottom of the sleeves as the pattern called for. I think that will also help with any extra blousing from the wide sleeves. DSCN0989I interfaced the facings and collar before sewing them on. I just grabbed the first interfacing that I pulled from the stash to use, but I wished later that I would have looked a little closer.

Now, with the interfacing applied and the jacket sewn up, the interfacing that I used is too heavy for the fleece. The heavy interfacing makes the collar stiff so that it only wants to stand up. The heavy interfacing is also a problem at the inseam pockets. Because I used two pieces of fleece to make the pockets, they are already bulky but when I added the heavily interfaced facing on top of the pockets at the bottom of the jacket by the zipper, it is even bulkier.

Lesson learned. DSCN0987

Upon completion, I stared at the jacket and it looked very odd to me. It looked like it would never fit anyone.

It’s was so small in circumference but long in length in both the sleeves and the body of the jacket. Who would have such odd body proportions. Then it dawned on me what I had done. I had made a extra small adult jacket, and not an extra large child’s jacket. Once I figured this out I could finally picture a young slender adult wearing this jacket without any problem. An unforeseen lesson in sizing and fit was learned this time around. Although this jacket may not be perfect, and some of the seams are not very straight, I am still pleased with the end results.

I learned a lot, and it has left me with several ideas and sewing techniques that I want to try and work on in the future. I hope some one will enjoy wearing this jacket and that it will fit them well.

Until next time, sew forth and jacket on!

Simplicity 2480 – Pocket #3 and #4 – Part 3

Version 4As mentioned in a previous post, I had already decided not to make the side in seam pockets with a zipper closure as the pattern had called for, so I set the pattern guide aside and thought up my own plan for sewing these pockets. Most of my ideas came from the in seam side pockets I had sewn in a little kid’s polar fleece jacket several years ago but with a few changes.

The pockets on the kid’s jacket were just one piece which was sewn to the front of the jacket to make the pocket. An open rectangle was sewn at the side seam for the opening of the pocket and then the pocket sewn to the front of the jacket to complete the pocket. The seam attaching the pocket to the jacket was seen on the front of the jacket.

DSCN0768The pattern I was currently working with called for these pockets to be make from two pieces so the pocket is not sewn to the front of the jacket. I liked the idea of not having a visible seam on the front of this jacket. So, to make the opening of the pocket, I placed one piece of the pocket on the front of the jacket, right sides together and sewed, cut and turned the rectangle for the opening. Next, I sewed the second pocket piece to the first pocket piece to complete the pocket.

DSCN0802 (1)The pattern called for the first piece of these pockets to be a lining fabric instead of using two pieces of the fleece. The reason for this was the bulk. It you were using a heavy polar fleece, two pieces would be very bulky, but I was not using polar fleece, my fabric was just a sweatshirt fleece, so I made both sides of these pockets with the same fabric. Two pieces of the fleece didn’t seem that bulky to begin with, but when it was added to a third piece, the front of the jacket, the pocket was then getting a little bulky. It was not so bulky that I was willing to unpick and restitch the pockets but the lesson was learned. Don’t double up fleece when making pockets with it!

With pockets #3 and #4 done now it was time to insert the zipper and finish up the jacket. That’s coming up next so stay tuned.

Until next time, sew forth and in-seam pocket on!

Simplicity 2480 – Pocket #2 – Part 2

Version 3I’ve sewn patch pockets before, so I did not pay much attention to the pattern guide as I sewed on the front patch pockets of this jacket, but when it came to the zippered front pocket, I read and studied the pattern guide throughly. When all was said and done, I wish I had not. Let me explain why.

Per the pattern guide instructions, I traced the cut lines for this zippered pocket onto a piece of interfacing and ironed it to the front of the jacket. Next, I cut on the cutting lines. The next step was to sew the shortened zipper to the small pieces that were made by the cutting lines. Because the pieces were very small, and the zipper was bulky and the fleece had stretch to it, this was not easy. It was difficult to sew a nice straight seam. I worked through it though and finally got the zipper sewn to the front of the jacket.

DSCN0753The next step was to sew the pocket to the zipper. Once again this proved to be a challenge. I had to sew the pocket to the zipper tape and the small cutting line pieces as I held the rest of the jacket out of the way and worked through the bulk and the stretch. My seams were not straight or even on this pocket but I finally finished it. The finished pocket is far from perfect, but it does not look too bad so I decided to call it done.

The reasons that I decided to call this pocket good enough for now was that I had no intentions of sewing another zippered pocket this way again. As I struggled to sew this pocket together, my thoughts drifted to what I had read about welt pockets. Wouldn’t it be easier to have sewn this pocket on like a welt pocket? Yes, I think so.

DSCN0756When I sew another zippered pocket, I will approach it as a welt pocket. I will sew the pocket to the front of the jacket, cut the cutting lines, and turn the pocket to the inside. This will give me a nice rectangle for the zipper. Instead of folding the pocket fabric into a welt at this point, the zipper will be top stitched to the rectangle, then the pocket fabric will be sewn together on the inside as if the welt had be formed and sewn in place.

DSCN0759I’m anxious to try the zippered welt pocket sewing plan that I have thought up to see it my ideas are valid. So, for about one second I did consider taking off the patch pocket and adding another zippered pocket instead. Then I remembered the liquid seam that I had used to finish the patch pocket and decided to leave the patch pocket alone and continue on with the rest of the jacket. My zippered welt pocket plan would have to wait for another project. And with that, it was time to sew pockets 3 and 4 to this jacket, the in seam side pockets. So, stay tuned to see how they turned out in the next post.

Until then, sew forth and zipper pocket on!

Simplicity 2480 – Pocket #1

fabric-comicEven though the peplum jacket finally ended up as a wearable item in the end, it did not follow my current sewing plan of sewing jackets with pockets very well. And since I was wanting to get back to my sewing plans, I turned this time to the pattern stash for ideas and a new pattern to try out. And I found a great one in the Simplicity 2480 pattern. This pattern is for a jacket with several different types of pockets and it fit with my current sewing plans nicely. The only problem I had with this pattern was that it was adult sized. When I try out new sewing techniques and practice them, I prefer to sew children’s sized clothes since it is less wasted time and fabric if it does not work out. But because this pattern fit my current sewing plan so well, I decided to make it in a size XS to minimize any problems. That should be about the right size for a girl in the 7-9 year old range.

IMG_0025Since I still had a lot of the pink fleece left over from the peplum jacket, it was not difficult to pick it as the fabric to use for this jacket. And, since I liked the white zipper in the peplum jacket, it was not difficult to pick another white zipper for this jacket too, and it was even easier to select a white zipper for the front pocket. The pattern called for two more zippers for the side pockets, but I decided to just make them open inseam side pockets and leave the zippers off, so I only needed the one small zipper. With the fabric laundered, the pattern traced and the pieces of the pattern cut from the fabric, it was time to get started sewing the pockets.

DSCN0751The first pocket was the front patch pocket. It was not difficult to sew on but what I learned was that it takes lots of practice to sew on nice looking patch pockets. There is a practiced skill involved in attaching them, and although this pocket did not look too bad on the second try, I still had not quite caught all the edges of the pocket on the curve. I was so close to having caught the edges that rather than unpicking the pocket and trying it again, I just used some liquid seam to seal the edges.

DSCN0802 - Version 2Now, I know this was cheating as far as the sewing plan goes of learning to sew pockets properly, but I felt that unpicking and re-stitching the pocket on would have hurt the plan more. I would have been flustered by the unpicking and restitching process and I would have not wanted to sew pockets anymore. I know this will not be my last patch pocket that I will ever sew on, so I will have a lot of other opportunities to continue to practice and improve my sewing skills of sewing on patch pockets in the future.

With the patch pocket all stitched on the front of the jacket, it was time to start the next pocket, the zippered front pockets. So stay tuned for how the next pocket turned out.

Until then, sew forth and pocket on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Finishing – Part 3

DSCN0959A now a few choice words about inserting the zipper!

After attaching the zipper foot to my machine and placing the pinned front and zipper under the pressure foot, I decided that the needle was not close enough to the zipper, so I moved the needle over to the far edge. When I started to sew, I quickly learned that DSCN0966my seam was too close to the zipper. Because I was so close, I had to sew around the zipper top and bottom, giving me a curved seam rather than a straight seam for attaching the zipper. Also the tension of the seam was too loose because the pressure foot was not in the right spot to hold the fabric and zipper properly where the seam was stitching at. At this point, I stopped and thought about why I had moved the needle and why I wanted a close seam.

DSCN0967The reason I moved the needle was that I thought too much of the zipper tape would be exposed if I did not have the needle close to the zipper. What I learned was that not much of the zipper tape would have been exposed with leaving the needle where it was suppose to be. Plus, the amount of the zipper tape that was exposed was a nice look and gave it a little bit of style, especially since I was using a contrasting colored zipper. Also, with the seam not that close to the zipper, there was less chance of the fabric getting caught in the zipper when the jacket is being zipped up. Fabric catching in the zipper was not that much DSCN0956of a concern with the big molded #3 zipper I was using with this fleece but it would be something to consider with other zippers and fabrics. A straight seam would look better than the curved seam and it would be easier to sew, and the tensions would be correct it the needle was not moved. So, lesson learned. Don’t move the needle to the far edge to sew the zipper on even if you think that is how you should do it.

DSCN0962Because the jacket did not turn out as cute as I envisioned, my plans to embroider several designs on the front and back of the finished jacket dwindled quickly. But, the jacket was still going to be a wearable item so I wanted to embroider a design of some sort on it. It was not difficult to pick the Smirk design that I stitched on this jacket. I love the design’s simple look and it’s few colors and I think it looks great on the jacket. For me, it gives me something fun that I am happy about and it gave me something fun to look at, rather than focusing on the messy peplum I had made.

Now that this jacket is done, I am happy that I competed it and have a wearable item rather than tossing it in the UFO pile with the peplum problems I had with it. I don’t think that the problems that I have with the jacket will effect how it wears and I hope that some little girl will enjoy a new jacket to wear.

Until next time, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Gathering – Part 2

DSCN0701My sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum was working fine as I gathered the peplum’s top and bottom, sewed the gathered top of the peplum to the hem, sewed the zipper on and then added the facings, but the plan fell apart at the last step.

DSCN0704Upon lifting the gathered bottom to the gathered top, something wasn’t right. My intensions were to fold the gathers of the bottom over, pin in place and stitch in the ditch on the top and have a nice clean finish on both the outside and the inside. The folded gathers of the bottom placed on top of the gathers of the top were just too bulky. I could not fold over the gathers of the bottoms for a clean finish. So, how could I finish the bottom edge? I know, I would do it as I normally would finish a edge, with the serger. I would finish the bottom edge with the serger and still stitch in the ditch. I would just have a exposed serged edge on the inside.

DSCN0944But my gathers did not withstand the serging. The serger stretched the gathers out. I adjusted my serger’s differential feed and I tried to keep my gathers together as best as I could while serging . But when I was done serging, I had a terribly messy serged seam. Despite the bad seam finish, I sewed on. I folded up the bottom edge and started to pin the peplum into place for the stitch in the ditch seam. I learned quickly that this was going to be a terrible looking seam as well. Gathers on top of gathers are not a good idea. There were several options for fixing the messy serged seams but fixing it would not solve the gathers on top of gathers problem which was the real point of failure with my “inserting the zipper it to the peplum” plan.

DSCN0952At this point I felt I had learned the sewing lessons from this sewing project as best I could and I had no desire to finish this jacket. Should I call the lessons learned good enough and throw this jacket away or continue to sew on it and have a complete wearable item? I’m not a quitter so I decided to keep sewing.

DSCN0950Between the lost gathers in the serging, the poor serged seam and the gathers on top of gathers, the stitch in the ditch seam was a real challenge. I finally muddled my way though this seam and finished the peplum with the zipper inserted inside it. I have a terrible mess on the inside of the top, but luckily the outside does not look that bad. The gathers look stressed and misplaced but still ok. And the peplum is more of a ruffle than it is a peplum. The inside seam though is nothing short of a disaster.

I have a few more things to tell about this sewing project but I will save them for next time.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!