Tag Archive | zipper

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!

 

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!

Oh! That’s Gonna Leave a Welt… – Part 1

DSCN0977I decided that is was time to try making welt pockets.

Welt pockets always look so nice and professional, plus I had something special I wanted to try for the welts. One day while shopping at Walmart, I saw a couple of bolts of patterned pleather and I knew right away that it would be perfect to make the welts for the welt pockets from. I quickly purchased some, and headed for my sewing room.

First, I needed a pattern. After looking through my pattern stash, I turned to my Kwik Sew books on the shelf.

Yes, there were jacket patterns with welt pockets and instructions in these books. I was super excited and ready to get started!

Next, I had to choose a fabric for the jacket. I had a bright yellow sweatshirt fleece hiding in the stash and debated if pleather and sweatshirt fleece would look good together. I finally decided that they would, especially for a first try of welt pockets. It was easy to pick out some left over scraps from one of my shirts for the body of the pockets.

DSCN0827DSCN0830And I decided to make a size 8 jacket because of the length of the zipper I had. I would need to lengthen the jacket a little to accommodate the zipper, but I didn’t think that would affect the wearing of the jacket.

The first step in making this jacket was to see if pleather would survive the washer and dryer.

It did! And beautifully I might add!

The next step was to see if my sewing machine would sew the pleather or if I was going to require a special foot, needle and thread for sewing the pleather. I did not. The pleather sewed beautifully with just my normal pressure foot, regulars thread and a new Schmit universal needle.

DSCN0833DSCN0836Wow! I had read horror stories on the internet about sewing with leather but I guess pleather is different, or maybe just these particular pieces. Regardless, I was excited!

With the pattern traced and the fabric cut, it was time to get sewing.

To sew the welt pockets, I started with some scraps to get an idea of what I was doing, then I moved on to the jacket.

DSCN0838DSCN0842I started by applying a pieces of interfacing with the sewing lines to the front of the jacket. Next, I taped the pleather in place and then O sewed around the lines.. I taped it because I did not want to scar the pleather with pins. Cutting was next and then pulling the pleather to the wrong side to form the hole for the pocket. Then I folded up the welt and sewed it in place, and then I attached the body of the pocket to the pleather and finally I sewed around the body of the pockets.

DSCN0848DSCN0844Soon enough, I had completed the two welt pockets. They are not perfect but they were fun to make and I really like the results especially with the pleather.

I debated about interfacing the pleather of the welt but I thought that the pleather was stiff enough to not need interfacing. As I inserted my hand into the pocket, past the welt, I wished that I had interfaced the welt and made it stiffer to withstand use over time.

I had pictured the welts as being bigger than they finished up being. Knowing now how to make welt pockets, I feel that I can make the welts in different sizes and styles the next time I make something with welt pockets.

Coming up next, the completing of the jacket.

Until then, sew forth and welt on!

Invested

DSCN1372DSCN2485 (1)Do you ever have a pattern speak to you when you see it?

Me! Me! Me! Sew me next! Sew me next! Pick me! Pick me!

Well, this pattern did not just speak to me, it screamed at me!

The minute I saw this free vest pattern on the internet, I abandoned all of my other sewing plans.

Since I could not ignore its request to be sewn next, a boy’s vest became my next sewing project.

DSCN2491DSCN2492What caught my attention about this vest pattern was the endless creative possibilities that it presented.

From the fabric I would use to make this vest, to the type of pockets I would sew, to the embroidery and details I would stitch, there were dozens of designs decisions to be made.

First off, I picked the fabric. I choose some sport weight scraps for the outer layer of this vest and some flannel for the lining.

I did question using flannel for the lining though.

The smooth slippery fabric of a lining helps with taking an item on and off. Flannel is not smooth or slippery and would actually make it more difficult to pull an item on and off.

But, since this is a vest, i.e. without sleeves, I figured the flannel would be fine to use. Plus, it would add a layer of warmth to the vest, and as an added bonus, I would be using some of the flannel hiding in the stash and most importantly, I could incorporate the print of the flannel with the embroidery design that I would be stitching on it. So, it was not difficult to pick the dinosaur flannel fabric for the lining and a dinosaur embroidery design.

DSCN1364DSCN1365When it came to deciding on pockets, I liked the patch pockets that were used on the pattern so I decided to make them.

The pockets are not just typical patch pockets so there would probably be something new for me to learn from sewing them.

I started the process by downloading the pattern, printing it out, taping it together, cutting it out, and then throwing it away. Yes, you read that right. I threw it away.

DSCN1373DSCN2488As I laid the pattern pieces on the fabric, I did not like the way they looked at all. I couldn’t get the shoulder seams to match and the armscye looked misshaped.

I could see many problems occurring during the sewing process using that pattern and I did not want to waste my time or fabric on a doomed project.

I was disappointed to say the least.

I was so excited to make this vest and I had already put so much planning into it’s design that I did not want to just abandon the project.

So I turned to my pattern stash and what do you know! Lying right on top was a jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902.

Could I possibly use this jacket pattern to make a vest by just leave the sleeves off?

DSCN2487DSCN2486 (1)I did not know the answer to this question but I was certainly willing to find out.

I began to cut out the pieces for this vest from it. Since I was going to use buttons instead of a zipper, I added an extra 1 inch to the front pieces.

I also ironed on a strip of interfacing to this extra inch to strengthen it for the buttons.

My first step in the sewing process was to sew the pockets on the front of the vest.

Embroidering the dinosaur design was next. Then I sewed the shoulder seams and collar. It was then that I realized I should have reversed these steps. The collar is slightly covering the top the embroidery design. If the design had been any bigger, it would have been hidden under the collar.

The next time, I will sew the shoulder seams and attach the collar first and then embroider the design placing it so the collar is not in its way. Then I will attach the pockets last.

DSCN1368DSCN1369This way I will have no problem hooping the fabric for the embroidering without the pockets on the front, and after embroidering, I can place the pockets over the fabric that was hooped.

The original vest pattern had a bottom band. I liked the look of the band so I decided to keep it on this vest, so I cut the vest and lining 2 inches shorter than the pattern called for to accommodate the bottom band. Because of the bottom band, it was easy to sew the lining to the vest.

With right sides together, I sewed around the vest and lining before sewing the side seams then turned it inside out and sewed the side seams. After a lot of pressing, I sewed the band to the front side of the vest and lining and then folded it to the back and stitched in the ditch to finish up the band.

DSCN1374DSCN2490 (1)The last step was to sew the buttonholes and buttons.

I sewed vertical buttonholes so that my buttonholer would not have to move over the pockets. I don’t believe that vertical buttonholes will make a difference in how the vest wears.

In the end the vest turned out absolutely adorable!

I just love it, and it was so much fun to design and make that I can’t wait to make another one.

I have not given this vest to anyone yet so I do not have a “wear test” to tell me whether a jacket without sleeves makes for an acceptable vest, but it looks good to me.

I could always make the armscye a little bigger on the next vest to ease my mind and the fit.

So until the next time, sew forth and vest on!