Friday, December 15, 2017

Handmade Christmas: Making Stockings

I finally bit the bullet and sewed up some Christmas stockings for our family. I bought this fabric close to 10 years ago, and really, I'm glad I didn't get around to it until now, because there were only two of us back then so I'd have been making more now anyway.


My biggest hang up with making the stockings was that every template I came across just seemed so small. We've been using some cute, cheap, but too small stockings from Walmart for the last few years, and I hate having to cram everything into a stocking that's so tiny. Our stockings always get filled with at least one package of socks for each family member, and they are soooooo difficult to fit in most stockings.

I liked the general shape and style of the stockings in the Fabric Worm tutorial, but it was still a bit small.

I ended up printing out the Fabric Worm template, and I did some slashing and spreading, and came up with this. I cut vertically down the leg of the stocking, then horizontally across the middle of the leg, and again horizontally across the middle of the foot. I laid out the pieces on a big piece of craft paper (from an ikea roll) and taped them down in an expanded fashion.


I widened the leg piece by 2.5" (so I total of 5" once it's assembled) and I added about an inch everywhere else. I had to re-draw the heel and toe to make things line up and still look 'right'.
The cuff had to be recalculated too, since I added width, so I ended up cutting the cuff piece at 21.5" x 9", the batting for the cuff at 21.5" x 4.5, and that worked out well.

I think I'd cut the cuff at 21" wide next time, maybe 21.25", since the cuff seemed a little bit too long to fit inside the stocking when attaching it to the main part of the stocking. Having that fold-over cuff makes sewing very forgiving though, so you really can't tell.

I also added a fabric hanging loop, and cut a piece that was 6" x 3", and folded the sides into the middle (hotdog style) and then folded them together again (hotdog style), which left me with a strip that was 6" x .75". I opted to sew a line of stitches down the open edge to keep things together.

chain piecing fabric hanging loops

When it came to attaching the loop to the stocking, I didn't want to just sew it along with the cuff, so I actually basted it in place on the stocking first, then pinned the cuff on and sewed everything up with my walking foot. I figured this would not only secure its placement, but also make it a little more sturdy.

fabric hanging loop "basted" to the inside of the stocking

I made ample use of my pinking shears as I sewed up the pieces of the stocking, which helped reduce bulk and let everything lay properly.

Around the top of the stocking where the cuff is sewn to the main body of the stocking is currently unfinished, and since I don't plan on washing these stockings (famous last words, I know) I might just leave it unfinished. If I'm feeling particularly lacking in things to do at some point, I might run that seam allowance through the serger just to finished that one seam off.

lining/hanging loop close-up
I followed all of the directions for the Fabric Worm tutorial, except where noted here. My results look so (surprisingly to me) professional! I'm really happy with the finished stockings and I look forward to using them for many years to come.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Altering the Sweet Legs Plus Leggings for a Better Fit

I've been intending to do this for over a year, and finally got the courage to do it over the last week. I replaced the waistband in my Sweet Legs Plus leggings I bought last fall (I think they were called Dark Night Plus).

I've googled on this one and I think I must be the only person who things the waistband on the Sweet Legs Leggings Plus is too tight. The rest of the leggings fit great with lots of room to spare, but that waist band! Argh!  Because of this, I never wear them.  I have 3 pairs, and I've worn 1 pair once.

I pulled my least favourite pair out of the drawer, grabbed my seam ripper, and seam ripped the stitches that held down the waistband (cover stitched originally), then seam ripped the stitches that attached the waistband to the pants (serged originally).

I had to be really careful not to catch any of the fabric, but it went well, and I ended up with the elastic coming out intact enough I'll be able to reuse it for some pj pants for one of the kids.

I then measured the length of elastic I wanted to use to be comfortable. I just used the 1" braided elastic you can get from Walmart.  I think it was less than $2 for the length and I can easily get 2 waistbands for myself plus at least 1 for the kids out of one package. I want to try cotton swimwear elastic, but I'd have to order that online, so I haven't yet.

I used to be an hourglass before I had the kids, but I'm definitely more of an apple now.  Needless to say, I was weary of using elastic in my waistband at all, but because I'm not an hourglass, my best shot of having my pants stay up is with some sort of elastic (or so I've heard). It's about as loose as it could possibly be too, so it's pretty comfy.

I cut the elastic to length, and sewed it up using my regular sewing machine and a zigzag stitch.  I placed a scrap square of fabric under the 2 ends and sewed over that too (trimming the sides off after sewing). It worked well!  My zigzag settings for sewing the elastic together were 2.25mm width and 0.5mm length. I'm a chicken, so I zigzagged over 2 times and back-stitched on each end.

 I quartered the elastic and the pants (separately, with ball point pins) and pinned them together at those quarter marks (on the wrong side / inside of the leggings).

Using my 3 thread narrow stitch on my serger (I love LOVE LOVE my Juki 654DE), I attached the edge of the elastic to the inside edge of the pants, and was super careful not to nick the elastic. I contemplated sewing with my blade disengaged, but wanted to get any pesky bits of leggings fabric that was sticking past the elastic, so I left it engaged.

I then folded the elastic down one time to hide it, but still leave that serged edge exposed. I contemplated rolling it down once more, but tried it on like that and it fit better just being folded down once.  After folding the elastic down, I quartered it again and pinned those quarters down. I love pins.

I went back to my regular sewing machine and used my 3 step zigzag (5mm width, 1mm length) to sew down the elastic and hide it from sight.  I sewed with the wrong side facing me and kept the zigzag as close to the serged edge as I could.

I think it came out pretty well! The leggings are now super comfy and I have pulled out my other two pairs to seam rip tonight.  I took note of the length of waist elastic I found comfy and will easily be able to replicate this alteration on future pairs.

I'm particularly excited because I'm in time to order a few pairs of holiday Sweet Legs and have them altered in time for winter!

I've also drafted a leggings pattern from the Made to Measure leggings class and I'm excited to start cutting and sewing some super custom leggings for myself in the next little while.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fav Tee - Toddler Edition

I decided that my almost 2 year old needed a t-shirt out of the leftover fabric from my Concord T-Shirt by Cashmerette (which I may or may not have blogged already depending on when I publish this).

I bought 2 meters of white cotton/spandex (95% cotton / 5% spandex) and had about 0.5 meters leftover after I finished my Concord, and fairly quickly realized that I was going to be able to make more than 1 toddler shirt out of the leftovers.

While Patterns for Pirates was having a 30% off sale (it's over now), I snapped up the Fav Tee, which is the girls version. I had originally planned to get the bundle with the women's t-shirt as well, but I am so happy with the fit of the Concord, I didn't really feel the need to.

E's measurements put her in the 9 month size...she's going to be 2 in two weeks...and wears an 18 - 24 month size is basically all the kids brands out there (Carters/Oshkosh, Old Navy, Children's Place, etc).  Definitely go by your kid's measurements, because the 9 month size actually fits her.

This t-shirt pattern has lots of options...wait, can I just take a minute to sing the praises of Patterns for Pirates for using layers in their pdf's?  It makes it so easy to print the size, or two/three (if you're grading), and not have a bunch of extra lines to ignore.

The no trim pages are also just fantastic. No words. Amazing. Heavens opening, angels singing, annoyance free pdf pattern printing. Just the best.

Ok, so back to the options...I chose to make the 3/4 length sleeve, scoop neck, tie bottom version. The tie bottom takes a fair amount of fabric, but it is so cute, I think it's worth it. I'm also looking forward to trying the contrasting tie bottom at some point.

For the first shirt, I did basically all the assembly on the serger, with just hemming the cuffs and top stitching the neck band on my sewing machine with a double needle (first time using one of these and it's pretty cool!).  With the double needle, I found I got the best results with my stitch length at nearly 4mm and the upper thread tension at 3.  The twin needle I bought was a Shmetz, 2.5mm Stretch Twin Needle.  I kind of regret (just a little) not buying the slightly wider twin needle.

I also sewed in clear elastic to the shoulder seams, which was something I did for the first time on my Concord T-Shirt, and I figured it'd carry over to this shirt (it did). 

Here's what I'm doing differently for the second one -

  • I'm hemming the cuffs with the (double needle) before seaming the sleeve. These sleeves are tiny and a huge struggle on my sewing machine no matter how I manipulate the fabric.  
  • I sewed the tie band pieces together on the serger the first time, and for the second shirt I've zigzagged this seam (1.5mm long / 2.5mm wide). It gave my much more control and less bulk in the points. I'll still attach the band to the shirt with the serger though.
  • I'll be sewing the tie front opening facing on the sewing machine this time. It's just too fiddly and tiny to get it to work well on the serger. It was not fun to stitch it on the serger the first time and the edge isn't exposed in the end, so I'm fine zigzagging this part too. 

That's it! Not to many changes for the second one.  All in all, I managed to cut 2 of the tie band shirts and one non-tie band shirt out of 0.5 meters.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

1 inch full bicep adjustment
95% cotton / 5% spandex

$13.98/m x 1.5m

Size 18
Mid length, scoop neck, hemmed 3/4 length sleeves

Serger settings

Left needle : 5, other 3 are set at 4

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Marlborough Bra - Part 1 - Top Cup

I fiddled with this pattern big time and wanted to detail all my changes and process.

I used the 32DDD as a base, and added 2.75" to the band piece (for a total of 5.5" in band circumference).  I also split the lower cup and added 0.25" to each side of the split (0.5" total).

My lace isn't galloon (the stuff with the nice border), it's yardage, so I needed to do something to finish off the top of the cup. I added a 0.25" seam allowance to the top cup piece, and used 0.25" elastic to finish the top of the cup.

The reason I added the 0.25" seam allowance was because that was what I would lose in attaching and folding down the elastic.

I applied the elastic by laying the top cup piece and elastic both right side up, and zigzagging down the top edge. I then turned the elastic to the wrong side and zigzagged it in place. Dammnnn this looks great for very little effort!

Here's the top cup piece after the first zigzag -

And here it is after being zigzagged in place -

My zigzag was set at 2.0mm long and 2.5mm wide on my machine and I think it looks good.

You may be wondering what the orange sticker dots are all about...I use them to denote the 'right side' of the fabric.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall Fare: Spiced Pear Muffins

Let me start by saying how much I love the recipes from The Kitchn.  I don't think they've ever steered me wrong.  I actually made some delicious pumpkin muffins earlier this week, which I completely forgot to photograph, so I'll talk about them next time I make them.

Today I made Spiced Pear Muffins. They're great. Perfect fall food.  Leaves turning red? Make these muffins. I'm currently eating one alongside a cup of Forever Nuts from David's Tea. Perfection.

I ended up using bosc pears for the first time ever. Usually I get bartlett pears and use them for everything, but when I stopped in at the grocery store this morning, all their bartlett pears were several days away from being ripe, and I wanted them now!!

The bosc pears worked great, I'd use them again in a heartbeat.

So, for the recipe, I didn't do what I was told...using a mixer when it comes to muffins...I don't know, it just seems...wrong.  I melted the butter (and upped it to 2 sticks...because I'm evil and it makes the best muffins ever to up the butter), mixed all the wet ingredients in one bowl, all the dry ingredients in another, then lightly mixed the wet ingredients into the dry, followed by folding in the pears.

I always forget that I'm a 'mix the sugars into the wet ingredients' baker now. I love the way things mix up when I do this (almost as much as the life-changing effects of bringing your milk and eggs to room temperature), but I almost always forget!

Delicious muffins, great texture, nice spices next to the pear.  A winner. I'll make these again.  Ooh, also, no sugar on top - too messy!  I don't want to have to follow the kids around with a broom anymore than I have to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Boo Who? Halloween Pillow Cases

Late last night I decided that both kids absolutely needed Halloween pillowcases for their toddler pillows, so I set out to find a tutorial.  I had seen a mention of the 'burrito method', which I was familiar with from sewing the Kalle Shirt by Closet Case Patterns, but I couldn't really picture how it would be used on a pillow case.

I ended up finding this YouTube video that told of a 15 minute toddler pillow case using the burrito method, and it was super clear on how to get this easy process to work. More like 'burrito magic!"

I have a small stash of Halloween fabrics from a quilt I started a few years ago (and mostly finished, the top anyway), so with those leftovers, and a few from my bag making days (the zigzag fabric), I got to work.

I had hoped to be able to make the kids matching pillows, because they fight over everything, but I didn't have enough of any of my Halloween fabrics, so they'll just have to fight over them.  Both of the Halloween prints are from the same collection - Boo Who? by Jerianne Van Dijk, Licensed to SSI.  I really wish I had bought more of these fabrics at the time, since I definitely want more, but they've been in my stash for years now.

I did a cursory search online for more of this collection, and was reminded that there are a million new Halloween fabrics that I'd also like to try. LOL!!

We have the ikea toddler/cot pillow, and it seems a bit big for these pillow cases - it hangs out the end a little (creative photography hides this). With that in mind, I'd add 2 inches to the main fabric piece, so it would measure 30" x 18" instead of the 30" x 16" it measures now.  Other than that, it's perfect! I see many more of these in my future, and the kids love them too.

I have enough scraps to make a couple of little Halloween themed bags. I'm thinking maybe this one or this one...