Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Bag for a Boy

 I have found a place in my house that I can take a photo without flash or blurring. The changing table. With all the bathroom lights on. I wonder if I need a new camera, or a new house, or a new sun?

I started this little bag about a week ago (maybe a little longer) and finally finished it up today. It's intended as a library bag- the Little Man and I have been taking weekly trips to the library. I used this tutorial at Indietutes, so I'm not including process pics. I did make a few alterations to the pattern, mostly the little pocket on the front.

Since it's a library bag, I wanted a spot for a library card. I just made a patch of fabric a little bigger than the card and sewed it down on three sides. I added some of my favorite car fabric from Fabric Bliss and a little spot of velcro to keep the pocket shut.

The tutorial suggests fusible interfacing, but I can't find my iron (T_T). I lined the bag instead, which meant it sags a little, so I added velcro to keep the main compartment closed. And a big red button that does nothing.

The cute little name patch on the strap is actually a fix for a really stupid mistake. Folks, make sure your straps are going the right direction before you sew them down, because you do not want to have to redo them. I just cut the strap and got it untwisted, sewing the patch over the unsightly cut bit. But I don't really recommend doing that.

And here's what all the family has been waiting for- Action pics!

You mean I'm supposed to carry this thing?
But it's SO HEAVY!
Contrary to my captions, of course, he loves his backpack.

I'm looking forward to using this bag on our next trip to the library! Our libraries have installed automatic book drops which suck in the books and flash green and red lights- very exciting. Last time the Little Man put one of his toys through.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Skater Sleeves- Tutorial

This is a pretty simple idea, but it turned out really well. I'm continuing with my quest to conquer knit fabric- this time with something that will actually be seen when it's worn!

It's winter, and our Little Man has far more short sleeved shirts than long. He's not really lacking long sleeved shirts, but it seems like a waste to let him grow out of his cute shirts without being able to wear them. Especially his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine shirt. So I decided to make it into a Skater Shirt. (I have no idea what the official name of this style is, but I like how it looks on little people- and me.)

These are the shirts I used- the beloved Thomas Shirt, and a too small shirt too stained for the consignment store.

You will need-
-A short sleeved shirt that fits.
-A long sleeved shirt that fits or is slightly too small.
-Basic sewing supplies.

Turn your sleeve donor shirt inside out and cut the sleeves off as close to the shoulder as possible. You want to make the angle of the two sleeves match, so don't follow the shoulder seam- cut parallel to the cuff, instead.

I of course left the cuff out of this picture. I hope it's still clear.
Compare the long sleeves with the sleeves of the second shirt. You want them to be about the same size where they meet, thought the long sleeves can be a little smaller. I found that I needed to shrink the cuff of the Thomas shirt a little so they would match.

It's hard to see- there's a diagonal seam at the bottom of the sleeve.
If you need to shrink the cuff, mark where the new seam should be and baste from there to the armpit. (Mmm, lovely word.) Trim to about 1/4 inch, and zig-zag over the seam to finish it. (or you could use a serger if you have one. I do, but it isn't threaded...)

Okay, now for the tricky part. It really makes more sense to sew this from the outside, to keep the visible seams as neat as possible. So, turn both parts right-side out, and position the new sleeve inside of the old. Pin it in place, making sure they overlap by at least a 1/2 inch.

Okay, if you have a sewing machine that works like mine, you'd remove the flat surface and have a thin arm to sew on. I slid the arm through the collar and into the sleeve, making sure that the bottom layer didn't get crumpled in the process. If you have a machine that doesn't do this, I'm not sure how you would go about this part. You might have to hand sew it (sacrilege!)

Use an appropriate stitch for knit fabric- I used the stretch stitch. On my machine, it looks like three dashed lines next to a zigzag. I followed the original seam of the Thomas shirt's sleeve so it would look nice. Try to keep the fabric from stretching as you sew. I ended up letting it stretch a little and it didn't ruin my nice shirt, so don't panic over it.

Repeat everything for the second sleeve and you're done!

The Little Man came out from his nap and wanted to put his shirt on right away- I call that a success.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DIY Training Pants

I have decided to get over my trepidation about sewing with knits. I've actually been working on this project for more than a week, what with research and such. Did you know that many sewing machines have a stretch stitch? I do! And I even know how to find it.

A lot of the techniques I found on sewing with knit fabrics involved me spending money on more sewing machine accessories, something I am not really into right now. So I didn't try using a walking foot, which probably would have helped, or a ball-point needle, which I don't feel like I really needed.

I decided to start out with a project that I wasn't too invested in the outcome of. Recently the little man has been chatting away about the contents of his diaper, and we've been exploring the idea of potty training him. I never really intended to make his training pants, but the ones in the store are a little pricey and I found what looked like a fairly simple pattern, so I thought I'd give it a go. I dug out some old shirts and knit receiving blankets and dove right in.

My first try looked like it would fall off of a six-year-old. I think that was the fault of my fabric and not the pattern- it didn't seem to bounce back and I think it might have been too old. Even so, for round two I modified the pattern to fit a smaller child. The Little Man isn't quite two and has a little butt, and the pattern is sized for a three-year-old.

Round two turned out much better, as you will see.

The blue pants above are a size 2t from the store, while the striped ones are my creation. I think they turned out pretty cute! I used one receiving blanket, pieces of a stained yellow onesie, and a few scraps of Warm and Natural quilt batting for the absorbent part. All stuff I already had, which makes this project FREE!

The Verdict: A package of three pairs of training pants from the store costs about eight dollars- add tax and they run about three a pair. These took me more than an hour to make, and I think the ones I bought look comfier- I couldn't quite get the lumps in the waistband and legs to lie down and be nice. If you're really financially strapped (or just love making everything for your kids) this would be a good option, and the Home Sweet Homebodies pattern is great. As for me, I'll spend the three bucks and use my limited sewing time making things people will see.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Skirt Alteration Tutorial

Hey, back to posting! I could make lots of excuses, but how about a tutorial instead?

My pictures for this post are terrible. I could retake the last one, but who am I kidding? I'm doing well just posting.

I love this skirt. It's so hart for me to find skirts I like- they can't be too short, or too long, or too poofy, or too form fitting, or polyester, or... Well, I could go on and on. The point is, this skirt is perfect, and I wore it for five years.

Then I had a baby.

I'm not self conscious. I'm actually really happy with my post baby body. The only thing that I regret is the large portion of my wardrobe I can't wear anymore. Well, this skirt has sat on the shelf for long enough!

This repair will work on a skirt that is too tight in the waist but still fits well otherwise.

What you'll need-
-A slightly too small skirt with a waistband
-A stitch ripper
-Fabric for a new waistband (I used a wide ribbon)

I started by ripping off the original waistband (and incidentally rediscovering the original color of the skirt.) Since it was slightly gathered under the waistband, it fit perfectly once that was removed. I believe that removing the waistband on most skirts will give you a little more breathing room- if it isn't enough, you might need to look up another tutorial.

So I was left with a perfectly fitting skirt with a very ragged waist. I was originally considering a knit waistband, but I've still not gotten the hang of sewing with knits. So I looked around for something which wouldn't stretch, didn't require ironing (I can't find the iron) and went fairly well with my other clothes. I settled on a wide white ribbon.

It was easy to follow the placement of the original waistband. I just lined the ribbon up with where the fabric changed color. I hemmed the end of the ribbon, sewed it to the inside of the skirt, then folded it over and sewed it down to the front of the skirt. Hemming the ends of the ribbon before sewing it to the skirt made it a lot easier, as ribbon is pretty slippery and unravels easily.

And that's it. Easy, free, and preserves a skirt I love! And, I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner and received multiple compliments, which was a nice bonus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drawstring Bag from an Outgrown T-shirt (tutorial)

This was literally a ten minute project. I'm sure that there are tons of little things you could do to fancy it up, but I didn't want fancy this time.

The Little Man has tons of toys. Tons. One of them is this great peg board, which has provided him with hours of entertainment.

I'm sure those of you with small children spot the problem already. I'm missing nearly half of the pegs that come with it, and they are constantly underfoot. A little bag seemed like just the thing to keep the pegs together and organized.

You will need-

A child's shirt
1 yard of ribbon or string.
Standard sewing supplies

This is the shirt I used. It's a 12m, and a little too scruffy to sell back to the baby stuff store. I started by cutting out my shape-

Even out the edges, then sew the sides and bottom of the shirt together so the only opening is the neckline.

If you look carefully, you'll see that I also sewed across the corners. I wasn't happy with how this step came out, so I'm skipping it for the tute.

Turn the bag right side out, and snip a notch in the neckline.

Use a safety pin to thread your ribbon through the neckline. Tie the ends of the ribbon together to prevent little people from pulling the drawstring out. Fill it with toys and you're done!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pajama Thing to Toddler Sleep Sack (tutorial)

My favorite fabric shop, Fabric Bliss, hosted a crafty get together last week with wine and sewing. It was totally free, with no obligation to buy anything, but you know how it is. You'll see some of what I ended up with later on in this tutorial. Anyway, if you happen to read this blog, own a fabric shop, and are not Aurora, consider starting up a crafty fun night- it was great fun and you will get business from it.

This project is days late in being posted, partly because it was a lot of work but mostly because I'm tired and lazy and trying to get a lot of subbing in before the end of the school year. But at last, here it is.

There are other tutorials for this kind of thing out there, but I didn't use them so I'm posting my own in the hopes that someone out there will get some good out of it. First of all, though, I need to apologise for the photos. A grey sleeper on beige carpet comes out looking pretty blah. I tried, but there just wasn't much I could do to perk these pictures up.

Anyway- the sleep sack. A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that is usually intended for littler babies, to keep them warm without risk of suffocation. My son, though, sleeps so well in his that I haven't been able to give it up- we had a lot of trouble teaching him to fall asleep and stay asleep, and I don't want to jeopardise that. The thing is, these sleep sacks run about $20, and you can't get the toddler sized ones in the store, usually. I never see them in resale shops in his size, either. So I decided to make my own. Out of this one piece pajama thingy.

In front is my model sleep sack, and the gray ugly thing under it is what will become my new sleep sack. I'm not even sure what the official name for such a garment is.

The final product. Much cuter in real life.
You will need-

-An adult sized shirt with a front closure and enough length to comfortably cover your toddler's legs. I found a men's large shirt that will work, and the pajama thing.
-A sleep sack that fits for a pattern
-(optional) Fusible interfacing and cute fabric for accents.

Start by removing tags and other silly things from your material. I removed some elastic and a ribbon bow. Then, lay your template overtop and cut out the shape of the sleeves and sides, leaving about 1/2 inch of fabric for a seam allowance.

The pajama thing was the right width at the bottom, but I wanted it a little narrower at the top.

If you are using something with legs, like I was, cut those as well so you can create a smooth sack-like bottom. If you're using a shirt, just leave the bottom hem alone.

Removing the crotch!
Then, sew up the side seams you cut and finish the sleeve edges. I would have done better to have used a trim here and bind the sleeves with that, but I was lazy. So unintentional lettuce edges it is!

I neglected to take a picture of sewing up the legs, but what you want is to make it one smooth piece all the way around, like a skirt. I hope you can picture it.

Our little man somehow managed to poke or punch himself in the eye this morning before getting out of bed. Hence the mini-shiner.
At this point, I decided to try it on my son to see how the neckline fit. I thought it was a little loose, so I folded over the shoulders some to tighten it up.

Sewn accross, then folded over and sewn down.
A lot of adult necklines won't fit a child very well, so adjust as necessary. You want it to be loose and comfortable, but not to slide down over their shoulders during the night.

Now we come to finishing the bottom. At this point you have an over-long nightgown, but we're making a sack. There are a couple of ways you can handle this step. You can just sew it shut. That's how the ones in the stores are made, and they're perfectly serviceable. However, it limits the useful life of the garment. Also, this pajama thing didn't open all the way down the front, so I wanted to be able to open the bottom and pull it over his head.

I decided to add a drawstring, instead. You could use elastic, and I think it would work better, but I didn't have any thin enough for the casing I had. See, the decorative trim at the bottom of this thing had a gap just big enough to thread a string through, so I went for that. If the hem of your material doesn't have a gap, you can fold it up to make a casing for elastic or string.

Threading my drawstring into the seam. This drawstring comes from an old pair of cargo pants.
I decided on the drawstring option after I'd sewn up the legs, so I had to undo some stitching to be able to thread my drawstring all the way through.

Now for the fun part! At the craft night, I saw some adorable kids fabric with a pattern of little cars. I thought it would be perfect to liven up this drab little outfit. So I ironed on some scraps of fusible interfacing, fussy cut out the cars, and ironed them on the pocket.

Beep, beep!

I love this fabric so much. I got helicopters, too. I don't know what they'll be, but something fun for sure.

And that's it! It wasn't quick, but it's such a useful thing to have for our sleepy little baby and it saved me eighteen dollars.

EDIT: while I didn't actually intend for this to be made from a teeshirt (I meant more of a button down shirt), once I read the blurb on Craft Gossip I realized it would work just fine with the drawstring bottom. That might be my next project!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off with my head! (With felt applique)

It figures- I set myself a schedule and fall off of it the next week. I may need to rethink the whole Mondays and Fridays thing. But I'm only a day late with my Off With Their Heads playing card shirt.

I had this idea last week when I wore my cool playing card socks, and I was planning to make it last Friday before I got distracted by baby bibs. I have several plain tee-shirts which could use a little personality, and I've got a few other ideas kicking around in my little skull that I might go to later when I'm feeling like a quick and easy project.

The neatest thing about this one was that it was free! I already had the shirt, and the felt came from a box of craft supplies my friend Troy gave me during spring cleaning. I cut out my shapes from the black and red felt, making templates for the spade and club because they're surprisingly difficult to do freehand.

The cut-outs are cut out- see the nice recycled paper template!

I played around with the layout until I liked how it looked, then stitched the shapes in place with matching color thread.

I am still getting the hang of sewing with knits. And by "getting the hang of" I mean "get really frustrated by."

Finally I switched to contrasting color thread and zig-zagged around the outside for an accent. Guy said that if he were to change one thing, he would have done that stitch in matching colors, and I think I agree with him. You can't see it very well in the picture, but it looks messy to me. Never mind, scrappy and scruffy is always in.

The finished project!
No one was home to take a picture...
There are plenty of felt applique tutorials on the internets. I didn't use any of them, but if you wanted to try it at home, this one looks good. I didn't use any fusibile interfacing like she suggests, but I wish I had.

And that's all for today!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bibbity Bobbity

I've made a lot of stuff for Kai recently, and I was planning on making something geeky for myself this week. Turns out, though, I didn't make anything for either of us. Instead, I made an emergency baby shower gift. Wednesday morning, Guy told me that we had a baby shower to go to Saturday afternoon. Mostly, we'll be getting the family practical gifts such as clothes and diapers, but I wanted to give something cute and personalized. No time to make a quilt, and truth to tell I'm pretty terrible about actually finishing them anyway, so I did some searching and found this tutorial from Lia's Space for some simple and cute baby bibs. I dug into my stash of fun kid fabrics and whipped them out in a day.

These would totally be a one nap project if you were just making one, or if you skipped the appliqué. I thought they were a little drab, so I decided to give them a little more oomph. I like how the appliqué shapes turned out, although the happy face seems slightly disturbing to me. I think because the zigzag stitch looks a little like teeth.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jumbo Animal Concentration (tutorial)

So, I have decided to set myself a posting schedule for this blog. I'm going to try to post on Mondays and Fridays. That way, I have the whole weekend to finish a project, and then the whole week to finish another. That shouldn't be too difficult.

With that out of the way, on to this week's project!

I bought this fabric from a super-reduced clearance rack at Hancocks, thinking that I could make something cute for the little man out of it. I was thinking of a little book, but then I hit on the idea of making a concentration game. I've played concentration with little kids before and they always have a hard time picking up the cards- this set will be easy to pick up and it won't matter if he crumples the cards, either.

18 squares, 9 of each. Your mileage may vary!

Jumbo fabric concentration-

You will need:

Picture fabric- I'm using animals.
Backing fabric
Heat-n-bond (optional)
Decoration fabric (optional)
Standard sewing supplies

Red sheet of DOOM!

I didn't have enough of the fabric I was originally going to use for backing, so I searched around and found this red fitted sheet. Fitted sheets make a ton of fabric- you will definitely be seeing this again. I cut out my cards and backs. If you have a rotary cutter, this would be a great place to use it. Mine is packed away somewhere, of course.

After looking at what I had so far, I realized that the card backs were going to be really visually boring unless I did something. I decided to use some orange butterfly fabric that I got at the same sale. I know that butterflies aren't usually considered very masculine, but (1) I don't want the little man to be bound by those kind of gender stereotypes and (2) that was what I had. So I fused the heat-n-bond to the back of my butterflies, cut them out carefully, and fused them to the backing fabric.

I sewed them together, leaving a gap so I could turn them right side out, and then ironed again and top stitched. I forgot to take a picture of the top stitching, but you can see it in the title picture up at the top.

Et viola! Here's the little man ignoring his new toy in favor of his drink.

Don't you know that I'm not old enough for this game, mommy?


These turned out pretty cute, but they took a long time to make. Actually, I haven't finished them yet, just enough to take a few pictures. They would look even nicer with some binding and a layer of batting, and would make a cool and different gift for a toddler/preschool aged kiddo. You could use appliqués to make shape, letter, or number cards. Just make two of each!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Littlest Staffer, or The Tale of the Missing Seam Ripper

Somewhere in this apartment is a box filled with thread, bobbins, scissors, needles, and most importantly, a stich ripper. The box has vanished- I have opened every box I can find marked "sewing room" and no luck. The thing is, a stich ripper is a critical tool for refashioning, not just for taking things apart but for undoing the inevitable mistakes when you're flying without a pattern. As you shall soon see...

Every year, my husband and I are staff at our local anime convention. And every year, I recieve one of these lovely tee-shirts. This one is a small, and though that should have been perfect, it really isn't. So I decided to make a little staff shirt for the Little Man to wear around the next convention. 

I used this tutorial from Squiggly Twigs Designs to make my shirt, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail regarding the steps. I used one of the kiddo's tees that is still a little big, since the idea is for him to wear it in September. First, I deconstructed the shirt...

Then, I cut out my pieces using his little shirt as a pattern. I preserved the hems on the sleeves, and the collar and graphics on the front and back of the shirt. The front and back pieces are still folded in half here.

I sewed it all together, as you do- shoulders first, then attaching the sleeves, then the underarms and side seams, and finally the bottom hem. Then I tried it on and discovered my fatal flaw...

It didn't fit over his head.

Here is where a seam ripper would have really come in handy. I unpicked one of the shoulder seams using scissors, cutting black thread on black fabric, and what fun that was! Then I used some of the old hem (also used for straps on my t-shirt to tank tutorial) to make a placket for some velcro. I debated using buttons but hand needles are also in the infamous box.

And here is the young model himself! It looks great, but the velcro is actually a complete failure... I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board on this one. I might just cut off the old collar entirely and see how that looks. Fortunately, I still have a few months to figure it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Welcome! And a teeshirt to tank tutorial!

Welcome to Sew Long, Wear Well. There's no deep meaning to the title- I just thought it sounded cute. I'm Maia, your friendly blogger; I'm a geek and a sticher, or a sticher and a geek, whatever your preference. I like making cute things for my one-year-old son to wear, and I love reusing nasty old stuff to make cute new stuff.

I'll start off with a one nap project- my favorite kind! This one is for me rather than the Little Man, but I'll be posting projects for him later, never fear. I've been inspired by Marisa at to look through my closets and alter some things I'm not wearing.

This shirt is adorable, but was so tight under the armpits that I never wore it. Now that summer is on the way, I thought I'd try making it into a tank top and maybe getting a little more wear out of it.

I started by cutting off the sleeves. Then I used a tank top that fits me well and cut out the shape of the top, making sure to preserve the picture.

I found some brown ribbon from my stash and sewed it around the raw edges at the top of the shirt. I'm not happy with how this step came out- anyone trying this at home would do better to choose something stretchy for their version. Ribbon was hard to sew and came out looking... wobbly. That's the best word I can come up with.

I was hoping to have enough ribbon left over for straps, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, I used the hem of a teeshirt that I cut apart for another project (that I'll be posting later!) I pinned it in place using a mirror and sewed it down.

Still not entirely happy, I took the last of the brown ribbon and tied it around the straps. That added some cuteness and took care of the pesky ribbon wobble that had been bothering me.

Tadah! The finished project.

I had my husband take a pic for me, but he caught me with one of those facial expressions that you could use for blackmail, so I redid it. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out!