Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ruffle bottom pants - a tutorial of sorts

I'm proud to say that last night I made my second ever garment using knit fabric! I made the first one about 25 years ago, and only sent it to the op shop this week (I think I wore it on average less than once a year during all those years), but I don't expect this week's attempt to last anywhere near that long in our house at the rate the Newbie's growing.

Here's the details:

The ruffles were inspired by a pair of pants that the Newbie has outgrown because of the added bulk of her cloth nappies, and also by similar projects such as this one at Makeit-Loveit.

Pattern:  Rae’s Basic Baby pant

An old T-shirt of mine which had seen better days

I used the bottom hem of my T-shirt as the hem of the pants, doing away with the need to hem them separately, added the length of the hem (ie. I lined up the bottom of the pattern piece with the bottom of the T-shirt), and added ruffles to the back of the pants (see tutorial below).

I suspect that I mis-measured the Newbie's waist, as when I used Rae's 'waist  1"' instruction for the length of the waist elastic the result was about 2" too long.  The pants are on the long side though, so instead of cutting off the excess elastic I've doubled it over, and will let the elastic out as she grows.

Make your own ruffle pants:
Lie the T-shirt flat, then fold along the centre front/back.  Pin pattern piece along the fold, matching the bottom of the leg with the base of the T-shirt.  Cut out.

I then cut two 1" strips from the width of the T-shirt, cross-cut them into rectangles which were as long as possible, creating four strips.

I wanted a rounded edge to my ruffles, so I cut a curve on one corner of each end of each strip.

I then stitched all round each piece with a mid-width zig-zag (top strip above).  You could also leave the edges unfinished, or overlock them if you have an overlocker, but personally I like the texture of the zig-zagged edge and the stretching of the edges of the fabric for this project.

To gather the strips I adjusted my stitch length as long as it would go, and set my machine's tension as high as it would go.  I then stitched along the long edge of each piece, approximately 1/4" from the edge which still had the squared corners.  This gathers up the fabric without the need to pull up the bobbin thread separately - a trick I learnt from a blog recently (sorry, I found it after following a trail from one blog to the next, and now have no idea who to credit with the idea!).

I sewed the centre back seam of the pants, then used my patchwork ruler and a soft pencil to mark lines on each side at 3", 3.5", 4" and 4.5" from the top.

I then adjusted the gathering on my strips, making minor adjustments to the width of some of them at the same time, and tying the gathering threads at each end when I was happy.  My strips ended up being around 8" long each.

I then pinned and stitched the strips onto the pants, matching the gathering stitch with the pencil lines, and starting with the bottom line.
The ruffles will overlap with one another slightly:

When all four had been sewn in place I sewed the centre front seam and the inside leg seam as detailed by Rae.

Obviously you could add the ruffles to any pants / nappy cover you like, but having now made my first pair of 'Basic Baby Pants' I know I'll be making more from this pattern.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pyjama pants for the Schoolboy

My Schoolboy has been waiting patiently for me to get around to some sewing for  him.  I guess PJ pants are a good first-step...

In both cases I used size 8 of Burda 9769 (the same pattern I used for the Kinderboy's pants back here).

They're rather slender fitting, and Size 8 is none-too-big around the middle for my skinny just-turned-seven boy.  I shortened the blue pair to shorts, and did away with the side seam on the red and grey pair (I simply pinned the front and back onto the fabric next to one another, overlapping slightly, and cut them out as a single piece).  This made a quick project even quicker!  The Schoolboy was so impressed when I asked him to try the red pair on yesterday morning that he left them on for Nintendo and Totem Tennis, so I guess they have the tick of approval.

The white pyjama top is a cheap Target T-shirt, with some red fabric and blue ribbon ironed and stitched on for the applique.  Not sure whether to add some stripes to the sleeves on the grey T, or if that's effort better used on another project.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A comedy of errors no more

Do you find that some projects seem doomed from the start?  I'm pleased to say that one of my long-standing problem projects has finally come to a happy conclusion.  Here's the story behind this cot doona cover (my apologies for the mobile phone photos):

I started it when I was pregnant with the schoolboy.  Before I started I went to the shops and got the measurements of a cot doona, so that I could make the cover the correct size.  I didn't buy a doona though, and when I finished the cover I found that I couldn't locate one the size I'd measured.  I then cut the original top and superimposed it onto a new cover that fitted the doona I bought, similar to what I've done again now (the red ric-rac marks the edge of the original cover).

I was really proud of the doona cover when I had finished it.  The Cyclist was away for the night, so I did a 'happy dance' with myself, then put it in the washing machine to get rid of the grey-lead pencil marks that I had on it before taking photos.  One of the (pre-washed) red fabrics promptly bled through the lot, turning the backing fabric a pale pink, and turning my face pink and blotchy with tears as a result!  I decided that I couldn't use it, and put it away in the cupboard for future contemplation.

Over the years I've wondered about trying with it again, or cutting it down to make a wall hanging, but I've never quite brought myself to deal with it.  Now that the Newbie's arrived though, and in anticipation that she'll be the youngest of our children, I figure that its 'now or never' for the farmyard animal doona cover.  I dug out some white backing fabric from the stash.  Its not the same colour as the centre panel, but I don't care any more.  I've also told myself that I don't care if the fabric keeps on bleeding.

There was room for one more mistake though.  On Tuesday afternoon, as I was sewing up the sides of the cover I somehow managed to sew the sides so that the zipper was on the front not the back / along the bottom.  I've lost my quick-unpick, so after some laborious unpicking then re-stitching I finally have a doona cover!

Here's my favourite character, and although I suspect she's also the source of the red dye those eyes seem to dare me to hold it against her ...

I'm off now to check out some more creative spaces over here...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pillowcase dress 1: Simplicity 4243

I've finished my first pillowcase 'dress' (actually, its tunic length on the Newbie, who's a month old today!).  I love the finished product:

Here's the details:

Pattern:  View D of Simplicity 4243
Size:      XS

Added sleeves as per Views A and B, and added a button placket with two buttons at the back, rather than the recommended zipper

Pillowslip (including lace from base), buttons and bias binding from the stash

Read the instructions rather than charging ahead!  The construction process would have been a lot easier if I had have inserted the sleeves before sewing the side seams (as detailed in the instructions) rather than after.  I found the bias facing for the neck difficult to use due to the reasonably tight curve on the neckline - will try a different approach next time I think.

After more inspiration?  I'm linking up here, here and here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pillowcases 6 ways

I have a collection of 6 'nearly-made' pillowcases that have been sitting in my cupboard for at least 15 years.  I'm not sure if they're a relic of my mother's Artex fad of the 1970s, or an unstarted embroidery project that I inherited from my Grandma*, but I've never really been sure what to do with them.  They're a tubular cotton fabric, and because there's no edge to tuck around a pillow I've never been convinced that they would actually work as pillowcases.  Each has lace and a printed flower design at one end (two of one design, four of another), and a raw edge at the other.  The lace edge isn't exactly straight on all of them, as you can see on the pillowcase on the right:

I rediscovered the pillowcases when I moved the office/craft space last year, and combined with the tutorials I keep coming across for 'pillowcase' dresses, set myself a challenge.

I'm starting today, so here's my self-imposed rules:

  • I need to make at least six garments for the Newbie from the pillowcases.  The plan is to make dresses, but a top or two is acceptable.
  • I can 'borrow' fabric from one pillowcase to complete a garment made from another (eg. I plan that one of the dresses would include two of the flower prints, whilst another won't have any).
  • The dresses need to be in a range of sizes.
  • I need to make them look as different from one another as possible.
  • I should avoid the 'standard' pillowcase dress design.
  • I can use additional (coloured) fabric for highlights, but each garment needs to be predominantly made from a pillowcase.
  • I need to use as much of the pillowcases as possible.

* Just found the painting instructions - a remnant of the 70s they are (just in case the mystery was keeping you awake at night!).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Achieving a long-held ambition

Happy New Year!

We were in bed by the time the official fireworks started, but had a great time earlier celebrating the Schoolboy turning 7, and at our traditional fancy dress party ('E' themed this year, although we already have more suggestions for 'F' than anyone had for 'E'!).  I hope that you had a great night, but more importantly that this year has dawned with fresh energy, hope and optimism!  For us, I loved the fact that New Years' Day was a Sunday, and the Cyclist and I got to start it at a reasonably quiet and reflective Church service focused around God's grace - for me the best New Years' periods are those where I take time out to reflect on His character.

No resolutions around here as yet, and no crafty ambitions in writing, although there's plenty swirling around my head and one long-awaited project underway.  In the meantime, I've been meaning to publish this post, which I wrote a couple of months back, before the Newbie was born.  She won't fit into it for a while yet, but I keep wanting to get it out and have a look at it...

Way back in the dim dark ages when I was a teenager I saw a little smocked dress that a girl a bit older than me had made for the baby of a mutual friend.  It seemed like such a great gift that I decided then and there that I would learn to smock one day.  I've held the ambition in the back of my mind, but have been a bit intimidated by the complicated and time consuming nature of the process.  I should say, "what I thought" was a complicated and time consuming process, because back in October I tried it, and it wasn't as bad as all that!

Here's my first attempt:

Another case of me 'watering down' the pink content of the Newbie's clothing.  You might recognise the fabric - its yet more of that check material I used on the mother and son PJ pants.  Its a tiny check, and I ran gathering lines every 3rd check to get the right sort of spacing.  Here's what I did/discovered:
  • Smocking isn't really as intimidating as all that.  Its actually a reasonably quick project in front of the Box (this lot took me 3-4 days of feet-up time during my 3rd trimester)
  • You do need to be careful about that first patterned row though - I missed a couple of pleats and missed a stitch in another place, all of which added up to me deciding to alter and reduce the smocking I had planned because I didn't want to perpetuate the mistakes and make them more obvious.
  • If (when) I do it again, I'll leave the ends of the stabilisation row and first row of the pattern free until I've worked the second row, just to make sure that I haven't made mistakes - that'll make them easier to unpick.
  • I used Simplicity 7017 again, but widened the front so that it was around 2.5 times with width of the band at the top.  This seemed to be a good amount of gathering for the smocking.  I left the back as per the pattern, but gathered the top rather than pleating it.
  • To get instructions for smocking my main reference was this craft book that I've had on the shelf since before the original smocking encounter (It was printed in 1983, so I guess that means I've been referring back to it periodically for various projects for nearly 30 years!):

  • I also had bought a couple of smocking magazines (who knew that such publications existed?) from the newsagent - they had some great stitch ideas but were pretty light on for instruction on the actual 'how to smock' component.
PS.  Have just been 'surfing' Pinterest, and came across this tutorial, which might be helpful if you're planning to try some smocking yourself (I'm going to be referring back to it for my next project...).


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