Monday, July 30, 2007

Scrap Catcher

My son made this Lego scrap catcher for me. It holds the scraps and threads from my serger. I think it's really clever and cool.

Friday, July 27, 2007

T-shirt Bound Neckline Tutorial

How to sew a double-folded binding on the neckline of a t-shirt.

The length of the binding piece will vary depending on your fabric. This was a very stretchy rib knit and I used a binding piece a bit less than 2/3 the length of the neck opening in the shirt. For less stretchy fabrics you might want to use closer to ¾ the length of the neck opening. The binding piece used here was 1 5/8” wide—it is the pattern piece from the women’s t-shirt pattern in Ottobre Design 2/2007.

Step 1: Sew the binding piece into a circle, and use pins to mark it into equal fourths.

Step 2: Your shirt front, back, and sleeves should be already sewn together (but don’t sew the underarm/side seam yet). Turn the shirt right side out. Use pins to mark the neckline of the shirt into equal fourths. This shirt has some gathers in the center of the front neckline and there are also pins holding the gathering threads tight in the front. The center front pin is a bit hard to see here but it is there.

Step 3: Finger press the binding seam open, and pin the binding’s RIGHT side to the WRONG side of the shirt. With your shirt right side out, pin the binding to the inside of the shirt neckline. It will probably not seem right, in fact, I did it wrong on this shirt and then had to do some reverse sewing. Double check so you don’t have to unpick!

Step 4: Sew the binding to the shirt, stretching the binding piece and making sure the 2 edges line up as you sew. I used a scant ¼” seam allowance here.

Step 5: Next, fold the raw edge of the binding over about ¼”, then fold again, making sure the fold covers your first seamline. Sew binding down close to the fold edge. Going slowly will help.

Finished! If the neckline seems to be stretched out a bit, you can steam it with the iron to shrink it down.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yes, you can save money sewing!

Something I hear a lot when talking with people about sewing... is "I used to sew a lot but I don't now because it doesn't really save me money." I'm here to tell you that it really is possible to save money sewing clothing for your family!

A few things I do that help me save money sewing for my kids and self:

I buy much of my fabric online, and I use coupons and shop the sales at the local fabric chain stores. I buy almost all my knit fabrics online because any knit fabrics available locally are usually too expensive or not the fabric content I want.

I keep some fabric on hand, and although I don't have a huge stash, right now I'm glad to have several colors of denim that I can use to make shorts or jeans for my boys when they need them.

I sew my children's pajamas. I make them flannel sleep pants in the winter, and light cotton woven shorts in the summer. They wear store-bought or made-by-me undershirts with their sleep bottoms. I like doing pajamas because they are just about the easiest project out there, so it's kind of instant gratification. I love having a finished project after about 20 minutes of sewing. Another reason I like sewing pajama bottoms is that I love all the fun prints that are readily available in flannels and cotton wovens. I definitely spend less to make these pajamas than I would and have in the past when I have bought pajamas for my kids.

All that said, saving money is not the main reason I sew for my kids. I sew because I enjoy it, I sew because I like the challenge of trying a new pattern or technique (or the challenge of fitting patterns for myself, which is the biggest challenge of all), and I sew because I feel like I put a little bit of my energy and love into the things I make for my boys. I also like the feeling of accomplishment, and of having made something cool looking and useful, that I have when I finish a garment and then again when I see my kids wearing it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

100 Things (that I have sewn)

I decided to try a different take on the 100 things thing. So... here goes.

1. A small bear, when I was 6.
2. A navy and white polka dot skirt with a ruffle for 4-H, age 9.
3. A light blue floral dress with elastic in the neck, waist, and sleeves, for my 2nd year of 4-H.
4. Light blue dressy pants and vest with coordinating button-up shirt, age 11. Again for 4-H. Sadly, the fit was poor and I quite disliked this outfit. I learned to do a collar at this time.
5. Boatneck t-shirts for myself and my sisters, around age 10-11.
6. Culottes, I made a yellow pair and a white pair. Still age 10-11.
7. Loads of cloth diapers. My mom used the flat style and her sewing machine had a foot that could do a very narrow rolled hem. I remember hemming a whole bunch of these when I was 9.
8. Barbie clothes. I remember pink taffeta capri pants and dresses with a fitted bodice and puffy sleeves and gathered skirt.
9. A green and white print skirt. Age 15 or so. Gathered skirt on a flat waistband.
10. Navy blue shorts out of a kind of crinkly twill. Age 15.
11. Pink wool dress, for the National Make It Yourself With Wool Contest in 10th grade. Don't you love the princess lines, and the lace collar? I sewed the zipper in that baby by hand.

12. My ugly quilt. Made in 8th grade out of a rainbow of double-knit polyester. My grandma helped me make it, and I love it.
13. Pillowcase in 8th grade sewing class.
14. "Jam shorts" (remember those?) in 8th grade sewing class.
15. Oversized turquoise sweatshirt with pockets in 8th grade sewing class.
16. Floral skirt out of chintz. High school.
17. Shorts made from quilters' cottons. High school.
18. Mock-neck shirt with long sleeves, made from white french terry or something like that. High school.
19. Blue and pink puppy. Jr. high.
20. White teddy bear. High school.
21. Straight leg jeans, age 10.
22. Green taffeta and white lace dress, junior year. (Made from this pattern.
23. Laura Ashley pattern light green and white dress, senior year.
24. Dresses for my mom and her sister for my uncle's wedding, senior year. Pink.
25. My wedding dress. age 23.
26. My friend A's wedding dress.
27. A huge, heavy jeans quilt.
28. Flannel pj pants made with chicken print fabric.
29. Khakis for my oldest son when he was about 2, made from recycled husband's pants.
30. Navy sweatshirt knit pants for ds1 when he was 6 months old.
31. Red, white, and blue quilt for ds1.
32. "Cold blanket" for ds1.
33. Quilt for my niece S.
34. Quilt for my niece C.
35. Diapers for ds1, lots of them.
36. Linen maternity pants when pregnant with ds2.
37. Prepatch maternity skirt when pregnant with ds2.
38. Baby quilt for ds2.

39. Big quilt for ds1.
40. Fleece pants for ds2, when he was a baby.
41. Romper for ds2 for his baby blessing. Light blue and light green homespun plaid. Really cute.
42. Overlap t-shirts for ds2 for his first winter. NCBE pattern.
43. Knotted hats for ds2, his first winter. (overlap shirts, fleece pants, and knotty hats from this pattern.)
44. Eared hat for ds2, his first winter.
45. Flannel pants, purple and green plaid, back in college.
46. A tiny outfit, in 1/4 scale, for my flat pattern design class in college. Pleated yoked skirt and blouse with a sailor collar and long sleeves.
47. Snowboarder Ottobre hats for my boys, 2005.
48. Pointy hats for my boys, 2006.
49. Kitchen curtains in our first house.
50. A quilty birthday calendar made for my mom's 50th birthday party. I don't have any photos of it!
51. A witch quilt for Halloween.
52. A red, white, and blue flag and star quilt wall hanging.
53. Recycled jeans frayed edge rag quilt with yellow and turquoise flannel backing.
54. A turtle wall hanging quilt.
55. Yellow print flying geese quilt, queen size.
56. Baby quilt for nephew B.
57. Baby quilt for niece C.
58. My second make it with wool outfit, a dark teal slim skirt and a cropped, cream colored jacket. (Oh man there is a big story about the night of that competition).
59. Baby quilt for nephew C.
60. Finger puppets with ds and friends, 2006.
61. Purple corduroy library bag.
62. Purple corduroy long skirt for me.
63. Purple corduroy jean jacket for me.
64. Purple corduroy bag for a friend.
65. A tiny, quilty, flag fridge magnet.
66. Flannel pajama pants for my boys.
67. Woven pj shorts for my boys.
68. White undershirts for younger ds when he was 2.
69. Maroon/beige/pink quilt for the end of my bed.
70. Pink pillowcases for my bed.
71. Darth Vader and Yoda pillowcases for ds1.
72. Light blue denim skirt for me.
73. Baby dresses and bloomers for my friend and my niece.
74. Yellow knit dress for next-door neighbor 3 yo.
75. Twirly skirt for neighbor 3-yo.
76. Red and gray striped shirts with red long sleeves for my boys.
77. An offwhite backpack bag for church, with an orange and pink prepatch inner. 2002.
78. Diapers for my younger son, fitted ones and prefolds too.
79. Poquito pants for my younger son.
80. A small quilted wall hanging for my MIL.
81. A roll-up portable chalkboard.
82. 4 Alice in Wonderland dresses.
83. Navy blue hooded sweatshirts for my boys.
84. A pink floral skirt, cut on the bias, for me (1999).
85. Sage green bridesmaid dress, 1997.
86. Dark green bridesmaid dress, 1997.
87. Maroon bridesmaid dress, 1995.
88. Dress made of bandanna fabric, 1995 (poor fit, that. Also not a good style for my body.)
89. Shorts with pockets over the knee, first for my older boy, now my little one wears them.
90. Fleece socks.
91. Hooded sweatshirt for dh, blue sherpa.
92. Hooded sweatshirt for me, pink.
93. Wrap around blouse for me.
94. Flounced skirt for me.
95. Pink skirt for me.
96. Black linen skirt for me.
97. gathered neck t-shirt for me.
98. Shorts for my boys. 2007.
99. Red hooded sweatshirts for my boys.
100. Boxer briefs for my boys.

T-shirt Neckband Tutorial

These directions are for sewing a ribbing-style (not bound) neckband on a t-shirt. You can use ribbing/ribknit fabric, interlock fabric, or jersey that has some lycra content for the neckband. If you use a stable/non-stretchy jersey for this piece, the shirt may not fit over the head of the shirt wearer.

Step 1: Sew the neckline piece into a circle. I prefer to use my regular machine instead of my serger for this step as it reduces bulk. Make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Step 2: (not pictured) Make sure the neckline piece fits over the head of the shirt wearer, if possible.

Step 3: Use your finger to press the seam open.

Step 4: Fold the neckband in half lengthwise (around the circle), and use 4 pins to mark the circle in equal fourths.

Step 5: Your shirt front, back, and sleeves should already be assembled. Fold the shirt at the neckline, matching up the sleeve seams, and mark the center front and back with pins. Fold the shirt again, matching the CF and CB pins, and mark the halfway points on each side.

Step 6: Pin the neckband into the shirt, making sure the seam is in the center back, and matching all the pins.

Step 7: Turn the t-shirt INSIDE OUT and sew the neckband to the shirt with the neckband on top. You will need to stretch the neckband as you go. Make sure all 3 edges match up, especially along curves. You can skip this step and just serge the neckband on, if you want.

Step 8: Serge. If you want, you can sew in a printed tag or a bit of folded twill tape or bias tape to the center back. If you don't have a serger, you can zigzag your edges together for a more finished look.

Step 9: Topstitch. Again, the shirt is inside out and I sew on the right side of the neckline. I use a normal straight stitch and I stretch the neckline a bit as I go. If I had a coverstitcher I’d use it here. The topstitching makes a nice finished look.


Friday, July 20, 2007

yesterday was a cutting day

Yesterday I cut out 4 shirts, one for an order, the rest for my boys and myself, and a pair of green jeans for my 7-year-old. I am going to do a t-shirt neckline tutorial and a jeans waistband tutorial as I sew these up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

sociable guerilla bagging

I'm gearing up to make my first batch of morsbags, see their site here. I went and bought a sheet and a cloth shower curtain at Goodwill and when they come out of the wash I'm going to be cutting and sewing this afternoon. I'm making some to give away and some to keep. And I'm considering making my own version of cloth reusable bags for sale once I get set up on etsy.

I also bought the border fabric for my scrappy log cabin quilt top. I'm going to do a sewalong of how to do the binding when I get to that part of the project.

Other sewing projects near the top of my list: a foldover tote bag for me, for church, a t-shirt for me, and jeans for my 7-year-old.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Jeans-style front pockets tutorial

Here's a sew-along for jeans-style front pockets that I put together. Enjoy!

There are 3 pieces--the pants front, the pocket facing, and the pocket back. Your pattern directions might have other words for these pieces. I didn't take a picture of the pieces before sewing them but you should get the idea anyway.

Step 1: sew the pocket facing, right sides together, to the pants front. Trim the seam allowances. I trimmed the one on the right, it's a little funny at the top there.

Step 2:
After trimming your seam allowances, flip the pocket facing to the wrong side of the fronts and press in place. Some patterns have you understitch, which is a good idea but not totally necessary.

Step 3:

Step 4: pin your pocket back piece, right sides together, to the pocket lining. It didn't line up exactly for me but that's ok. I will sew the curved edge--from the red pin to the other red pin.

Step 4: sew that seam--here is a picture of the wrong and right sides after sewing:

Step 5: Baste the upper and side pocket edges to keep the pocket in place when you sew the side seams and waistband. I used topstitching thread so it would show in the photo.

Still working on the formatting but it's a bit better now.

log cabin quilt top

Just finished this up. I need to decide on a border for it. I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out, could have used less of the dark orange and red but I used what I had.