How to Fix Holes in Jeans: Jazzy Style

My daughter is rough on jeans, and really, what kid isn’t? She wears holes in pants so frequently that she usually wears them completely unbothered. (Why yes, grammar nerds, I did make that word up. Thank you: freedom of the … Continue reading

Baby’s First Birthday

   That elusive summer Break once again has come and gone, along with my sabbatical from blogging.

Over the summer I spent some amazing time with my husband and daughters, welcomed a new nephew into the world, got to be a cabin leader at the greatest church camp in the land, and had the ultimate privilege of making a princess dress for the most deserving little girl I can imagine.

I also had an order for a jungle-themed first birthday party. Here’s what I came up with:IMG_3552I made a hand-embroidered keepsake tee shirt showing his age and what I believe to be a very cute young lion. I wish I had a cover stitch machine for knits like this, but I was able to hem the shirt with no real problem to speak of. It’s definitely possible-and pretty easy with just a little practice-to sew knits on a regular machine. Knits intimidate a lot of seamstresses-don’t be one of those. Go for it!IMG_3558

This is the shirt made to go over the tee for the party. We figured he could wear this one for the cake and take it off afterward. The hope was that the tee shirt wouldn’t get too messy that way. I’m not sure if that’s how it played out. Hmmm…I’ll have to ask. IMG_3564Isn’t this the cutest little fabric? Look at all those adorable baby animals!IMG_3563

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Well, hi there, mister Tiger Pocket! You were very fun to make.IMG_3560

As cute as the fabric is, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the most adorable buttons I’d ever seen in my life.

IMG_3559Ok,  I may have purchased them without noting the price. I had a decent coupon and I assumed a button couldn’t be more than a couple bucks, right? Sooo Stupid. Oh well, they really do make the shirt, and I ended up knocking it off the cost of the final product, anyway. It was worth it. Those buttons just belong on that shirt. Look at them…right there in their natural habitat. They look happy.

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I dare you not to smile at this picture. Go ahead-make my day!IMG_3557

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Confession Numero Dos: I would have loved to stitch a little monkey on the back because, well, how great of a joke would that be? But I’m silly and not everybody else is, so I left the monkey off of the babies back, but I like the lion’s tail wrapping around like that.IMG_3555

Once again-hand stitching! Boom! If you haven’t tried it, you should! It may take a long time, but ya just can’t get that effect any other way.

By the by, this is the same baby I made the original “Hand-stitched Tee” for in this tutorial post on how to make one. For that project, I sewed the whole shirt by hand, which is pretty much crazy talk. I believe that’s totally worth it for a keepsake when a new baby is born, but for most other occasions, it’s much easier and faster to sew the garment, and just embroider by hand.
IMG_3552IMG_3554I just want to pet his playful little whiskers! You? No? Just me, then.

IMG_3553He’s climbing the one. He looks ambitious to me.

The Moral of the Story? Be warned: Working with Children’s whimsical fabric and notions can make you a little zany. And sometimes an overpriced button or two can be totally worth it.

Have No Fear, VBS Capes are Here!

IMG_3519-0   Yesterday I finished the 6th and final superhero cape for Vacation Bible School at our church. As there are fewer seamstresses around than there once were, I’m pretty sure those of us who do sew get the whole gamut of oddball requests. I love oddities and challenges, so to me it’s more of a perk of my vocation than a downside. Design and sew a half dozen superhero capes for kids and come up with my own super logos for the backs? Yes, please!

   I do have to admit, the church came dangerously close to having 6 little Darkwing Ducks running around for a week…well, 5 little ones plus me-because you know if I had made Darkwing Duck capes, I’d be rocking one of them! As it was, the theme song has been running through my head for the past two weeks. (Remember the songs and catchphrases, you 20 and 30 somethings? “You better watch out you bad boys,”  “Let’s get Dangerous,” and let’s not forget the slightly unsavory “Suck Gas, Evildoers!” I bet my mom loved me repeating that all the time.)An Ode to the Dark Knight, Uh… Wing

The Capes:IMG_3525

An Arrow: Because I ran out of ideas and because Jesus is the Way!IMG_3524A torch…also because I was running low on ideas and Jesus is our light.IMG_3526Yeah, that’s a Bible. My husband thinks it’s lame for a cape, but it’s our Sword of the Spirit, right?IMG_3519-0

A lightning bolt: Because it looks really cool.

This really has no symbolism behind it, although I could pull some out of my hat if my kids asked me. Moms are great at that- it’s like our superpower! P.S. I went through,like, 3 mangled lightning bolts before I had to look up pictures to draw from. I can’t believe it was that hard, but I was cutting without drawing first. If you want a challenge, I dare you to cut a lightning bolt from fabric without looking at one. If you do it, hit me up in the comments section. If you do it with no trouble, I’ll happily concede to you because this lady had one  tough time!IMG_3515A Shield of FaithIMG_3518-0

Hearts: because the pastor wanted some for girls and what better symbolism for the kids than Love?

This was a really fun project and was also an opportunity to do some more hand stitching, which you know I love!IMG_3527

IMG_3516-0I used velcro for the neckline to close the cape. I thought that would be nicer than just tying them. IMG_3517-0

Pardon my cluttered background and to answer your question, Yes. Those are turkeys on the wall. I realize we are a long way out from Thanksgiving, but we happen to be coming around again, which means I don’t procrastinate, I plan ahead!IMG_3451

You can see in this picture just how full these capes are. They are a half circle so the kids can play with them and hold them over their little faces, which is cute. It’s less cute when I do it and pretend to be Darkwing.IMG_3528

I think that’s actually my villain face. Oh well. It was worth it because while I was dressed up and singing the theme song, I realized I could replace “Lets get dangerous” with “Lets get Biblical!” None of the kids will get the reference, but my nerdy friends will! And the people my age who don’t: I’ll just stop hanging out with them. Just Kidding. But not Really.


***Bonus Post***

   Since this is already a long post and I’d already gotten out the “Selfie Stick,” here are some pictures of today’s Pinterest hairstyle. I’ve determined to actually try some of the styles I’ve had on my Hair board on Pinterest on myself, my kids, and frankly, probably some unsuspecting friends and family members. I know it isn’t sewing related, but it is fashion related…loosely. So I may do some posts on hair and hairstyles, since the topic is so intermingled with fashion. If you follow my blog and you hate or love that idea, let me know! Styling and taking care of long hair and biracial hair are both close to my heart, so keep an eye out for posts on those topics.

 My “Pinspiration”:Everyone will think this easy braided headband required a lot of effort. | 17 Ways To Never Have A Bad Hair Day AgainMy Reality:IMG_3536So, I definitely didn’t “nail” the teasing, but the braid is cute and super quick! It would show up much better if my hair was lighter on the ends, but I still dig it. IMG_3529IMG_3535

 


Turn a T-Shirt into Leggings!

IMG_2622T-Shirt into leggings- Why not, right?

Upcycling T-shirts is all the rage these day. One needn’t wander any farther than Pinterest, Craftsy, or just a good, old-fashioned Google search to stumble upon oodles of ideas: tank tops, boy shorts, purses, rugs. You name it; crafters have probably thought of a way to make it using repurposed t-shirts.

When repurposing garments, I typically like to take them completely apart and use the fabric, not too much of the stitching. That way, it’s like making something from scratch, which I feel better about. That’s not to say I haven’t cut off ugly sleeves, shortened hems, and revamped old dresses and other articles of clothing. That can be really fun and definitely makes great before and after shots, but my preference is really to design from the ground up.

Upcycling is a great way to get your feet wet in the sewing world. Whether you’re brand new to sewing and just want to get in some practice or you’re an experienced seamstress and are just looking for economical projects, it’s a fantastic option. And as my followers know, you don’t even need a machine to get started sewing clothes. I used my serger for this project, which made it super fast, but if you don’t have a machine, aren’t comfortable sewing knits yet, or if you just love the artistic goodness of the hand-stitched look, whip out your needle and thread and read a couple of my tutorials and posts on hand sewing knits to get started!

Baby T-shirt Tutorial

Upcycled Tank Top

Little Girl’s Tank

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

    A Pattern (If you don’t have one, use a pair of leggings as a guide to make one. Just add seam     allowance.)

    One or multiple T-shirts

    1/2 Inch elastic for the waistband

    Thread

    A sewing machine, serger, or hand sewing needle

    Scissors

Step 1: Prepare or make the pattern. I used a pair of yoga pants to make this pattern.
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Step 2: Cut out the fabric. I used a cool graphic tee and one with a contrasting color for the foldover waistband. Ideally, I would like these leggings to be a little longer since my daughters are so tall, but since this t-shirt is very soft and thin, I decided these would be for Spring/Summer wear anyway and they’d be fine as capris.

I kept the hem at the bottom for ease of sewing and because I don’t have a cover stitch machine that will do that type of hem yet. I like to avoid the zig-zag stitch for knits if I can. Another option for taller kids would be to use another t-shirt and extend the pattern. Just sew the extra piece to the bottom of the pant legs before sewing the pant. IMG_2623

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Step 3: Cut the elastic. You can measure the waist of the pants you made the pattern from, follow the pattern package directions, or measure your child’s waist. I prefer the third method. That way, you get a wonderful fit the first time around.

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Step 4: Sew the pants together. I don’t have step-by-step pics for the sewing portion, but if you’re a sewing newbie, feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

My favorite way to sew pants is to sew the inseam and outseam (this pattern only has one seam per leg, so I just folded each leg over and sewed that seam) and then turn one leg right side out and put it inside the leg that is right side in, so that the right sides of each leg are facing each other and sew the crotch seam, being careful to match the inseam up on both sides. (Click here for an easy tip on how to do that well.)

If there’s a waistband, sew it on with the elastic inside. If there’s no waistband, sew the elastic together at the ends and roll the top of the pants down over it to make a casing and sew, using a zig zag stitch or cover stitch.

   For an example of an elastic casing, click on the picture below.photo 10

Do not sew the waistband or crotch with a straight stitch, because the threads will break as soon as the pants stretch! I wouldn’t recommend sewing the vertical seams with a straight stitch, either. With knits, your stitches must allow for stretch, or your kid may be looking at a pretty embarrassing day at school.

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The Moral of the Story:

If you have more time than money, upcycling is a fabulous way to pursue a hobby and get in your sewing fix.

Also, make use of that zig-zag stitch, please! Friends don’t let friends rip their pants.

Whatcha Workin On Wednesday

IMG_2806 I must admit that I love the style of the teensy, squared short sleeve. I’ve doted on this style on pinterest, but honestly didn’t think about the construction until I began sewing the binding onto this tank and put the half-finished project on the dress form. Maybe next time.

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The original design- quickly sketched, not that I’m too amazing at drawing when I spend a lot of time on it. I have the pattern made for the skirt and the fabric cut out, but I haven’t begun sewing.

IMG_2799That’s my to-do list pinned to the dress form. If I leave it anywhere else, I forget about it and get off track.

IMG_2790I got a little bored and played with the scraps and I love these dainty little flowers. I have enough for several hair clips for my daughters to lose.

IMG_2807Turns out, they would be pretty cool around the neck of a really rad dress, or just as a neck piece. Boredom really does inspire a lot of my designs.

I’m excited about this criss-cross back! It’s fairly open, while still being able to hide a bra. I love fashion and fads, but not at the expense of my bras!

Whatcha Workin On Wednesday

IMG_2622Yoga Pants for Kids out of T-shirts! Yaya! 

IMG_2625My dad will officially kill me if he finds out I’m making clothing for kids with skulls on it, but this Tee was just too perfect for this project to pass up. I’ll just tell him it’s a pirate thing. (Guns and swords he’s totally ok with.)

IMG_2623I had to cut this a wee bit shorter than my pattern, so they’ll be long capris, but it’s getting warmer soon.

IMG_2624I had big plans for upcycling this tee, but again, it was too perfect not to use with the gray punk theme, so I went for it. Let’s all take a moment to mourn for all the glorious other projects this shirt will never be turned into now. . . A swing style tank top, a re-worked tee shirt for my daughters, a baby cardigan, and so many more that it had the potential to become. (Or am I the only one who’s hesitant to cut something up because I’m not absolutely sure I’m ready to rule out the other possible projects I could use that fabric for?) There’s still enough there for a tiny garment, anyway.

 

Leave it in the Comment Section:

What are you guys currently working on? (I know some of you have like 20 irons in the sewing fire right now! Share a few of them with us.)

 

Girls’ Gymnastics Shorts

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Intimidated by sewing knits? Don’t be-they’re actually really easy to work with. Whether you have a serger or not, they can easily be mastered. I used my serger on the interior seams, but since it doesn’t have that handy dandy cover stitch that’s normally used to hem knits, I used my sewing machine for the waist and legs.

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This is a stitch often used in lingerie, it’s a zig-zag, but has tons of tiny stitches within each zig and zag. It’s fancy. Plus, it has awesome stretch, which is what you need for performance knit sewing.IMG_2464

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The interior seams are serged and for the top of the waist and legs, I serged first and turned the fabric under only once and stitched using that fancy zig-zag. This makes the inside look finished without having to turn the edges under twice. Less work?Love it! The waist has 1/2 inch elastic in the band, but the legs don’t have any elastic. I thought about using the clear lingerie elastic for the legs, but I tried it without, and it worked out well. These are tight enough in the leg that they don’t require any extra elastic. Works for me!IMG_2459

Hand Stitched Girls Cardigan

4-7-13 038One of the forms of sewing I’m most passionate about is hand stitching. I first did a project with jersey knit by hand 7 years ago, using a whip stitch around the side seams so I could assure it wouldn’t fall apart. I absolutely loved working with jersey by hand! But I remember thinking it just wasn’t feasible…too time consuming, too likely to fall apart. So I gave it up after that project…until I found the completely hand stitched clothing line Alabama Chanin. It’s amazing! Natalie Chanin uses astonishing hand embroidery and embellishment as a trademark. I don’t have the patience or the willingness to do that on my work. My passion is more pattern making. I’d prefer to make a more complicated design and sew it simply than a simple design that lends itself to embroidery. (Not that this blue cardigan is complicated or wouldn’t look great emboidered if I had the patience to sew more than just the one leaf you can see in the left side of the picture on this cardi.)

What I took away from Miss Chanin’s work is that a simple running stitch with the right thread is more than enough to sew a garment together that won’t fall apart. And believe me, this is a tried and true method. I made this cardigan about 2 years ago and it gets washed all the time.

For a tutorial on how to hand stitch a garment, see my article A Hand Stitched Baby T. Projects like this lend themselves to upcycling, and for this project, I used a super soft T-Shirt I found at Goodwill for the light blue and a maxi dress that got too small for me for the binding.  For my other project using the dark teal, check out the pics in my article on how to make an embroidered long sleeve t-shirt. When selecting a piece to upcycle for a project like this, try to look for: the biggest sizes possible, fabric that’s soft to the touch, items that don’t have many seams, and dresses are great because they have so much fabric. When in doubt, grab your old T-shirts and turn them into a new piece of clothing instead of a T-Shirt Quilt.

 

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Don't Use

Baby Bib and Burp Cloth

Bib 10Babies. Just as cute as they wanna be! In this post, I’m going to show you how to make an adorable bib and burp cloth to match. While they’re definitely not as cute as babies, (nothing is!) they are quick, relatively easy, and can be a good fabric scrapbuster. I had a little of this Riley Blake animal fabric and blue dimple dot minky left over from the crib set I made a couple years ago. Click Here to see that post, Crib Set Extravaganza.

Bib 5I had started on this bib back then, but didn’t get it finished. So the above picture shows what I had cut out and ready to sew. (Yes, the gray piece had been in the embroidery hoop for 2 years. That’s why all my posts about procrastination, if you’ve ever wondered.) The hippo was just cut out of the Riley Blake fabric. I tried to leave a tiny edge of gray background around him so I had a scosche more room to sew around him. (I had no idea that’s how scosche was spelled until I had to look it up just now. Ya learn something new every day!)

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Just place your cut-out onto the bib fabric…Bib 7

And whip stitch around that little guy with embroidery thread.

Embroidery Needle Threader

Here’s a tip if using embroidery thread makes you want to jump out of a window. (Or is that just me?) Walmart and sewing/craft stores carry this gigantic needle threader, which is perfect for embroidery floss.  The thread comes as a 6 strand rope. I cut the length I needed and separated it into two 3 strand pieces. Using 6 strands would have been way too thick for this project.

Bib 1

After your design is sewn onto the bib front, put it right sides together with the minky (or fabric of your choice) back. Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin! You’re working with a quarter inch seam allowance here, and the minky is stretchy and slippery, so you definitely don’t want anything moving out of place.

Bib 2This tip may be for me more than anybody else, but I hate sewing really tight curves like this, so I took a clear ruler and traced the stitch line with a pen that’s made for sewing. (The ink disappears when ironed.)

Sew around the edge at 1/4″, leaving an opening for turning out. Turn the fabric to the right side and top stitch, making sure to catch that opening so it’s securely closed.

Bib 3

This is what you should have at this point.  Again, the neck back piece is a beast to sew. If it comes out horrible, take the topstitching out and try it again. Marking the stitch line with chalk or soluble ink may help you.

 

Bib 4

 

The last step is to attach the velcro. To do that, cut a rectangle of velcro the length you would like it according to how it will fit on the bib. Then round off the edges by cutting diagonally across the corners and then cutting tiny diagonals across the corners that last cut just made. You really can’t be too careful here…you want baby to be comfortable and safe, so just run your finger around the velcro to make sure there are no sharp points. When attaching, maake sure the hard part will be on the bottom, facing out so it never rubs baby’s skin. To sew on the velcro, I’ve found it’s easiest to just do straight stitches, forming a box.

 

Bib 8

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This is the finished product. If any of you make one, I’d love to see it. Post pics in the comment section, please.

 

For tips on working with minky fabric and how to sew the burp cloth below, just follow my Taggie Blanket Tutorial and don’t use the ribbons.

Bib 9

Bib 10