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.