I finally talked my mother into sharing her unbelievable creativity with the world! She’s started an Etsy shop and I connived a blog out of her too. And since we are now living long distance but still talk about our projects all the time, it seems only fitting that we share our virtual creative space (and this way we won’t get our fabric stashes confused. Oh, wait, I would totally benefit from that. Dagnabit). So I’m moving in to my mother’s…blog.
Please drop by to say hello! Sorry in advance for the hassle if you deem it worth your while to update your feeds.
I was going to wax an elephant for a moment here, on my last sulala post, but I’ll just say this: thanks. Even after I thought I’d quit with blogging, I found myself thinking about my readers, the blogs that I read, and the projects I’d seen. No matter how many “official” sites there are out there, I nearly always choose a blog for knitting and sewing patterns, for ideas for babies, and cripes, let’s be honest–for humor at 3 am when I haven’t slept in a few days. Not to mention that blogs were a lovely human connection when I didn’t know a soul in my new state except the squatter who lived beneath our dumpy apartment.
I’m learning how to be fulfilled with making do, and a lot of that has to do with the glimpses of the fabulous lives I watch you all leading and writing about–fabulous not because they are magazine-spread worthy (or maybe they are, for example if this is your bedroom rug), but because they are yours and you are thoughtful enough to share them.
And I promise to continue my long, confusing, parenthetical sentence structure no matter what my URL my be.
PS. Still working on the tutorial T-shirt romper. I’d like to update the horrendous pictures! In the meantime, have you seen Dana’s 90 minute shirt that uses similar techniques? Check her out!
A note before I continue: There are obviously all sorts of types and qualities of T shirts out there, and I recommend you experiment with yours a bit before jumping in at the machine. Remember to use a ball point needle and hold your threads to the back when you start each seam. On my machine I give ‘em a little pull to get going, so see what makes your feed dogs happy. You also might want to try different tension settings on your presser foot. I lightened mine a bit for this project.
Experiment with pressing as well, since your T-shirt material like mine might flatten like mine a bit too much and get that odd shine over seamed areas. I still ironed my seams because I wanted the crispness, but I probably should have used a pressing cloth or something smart like that.
Back to the back…
I chose a back snap placket for this romper because I wanted to feature the T design on the front. You could also choose to do an envelope or crossover neckline, or add snaps at one shoulder, if you’d rather.
To execute the back placket (This is like doing half a welt pocket!):
You will need the romper back, along with two strips for the placket. My two strips were about 2 1/2″ by 6″, with the grain running the long way (so that it goes in the same direction as the rest of the back when the plackets are applied). You’ll also need two or three snaps to finish the placket eventually.
1) Cut the back. Determine the center of the romper back. Measure 1/2 inch on either side of the center and mark it for cutting. Measure down about 4 1/2 inches (or whatever length you wish to use) and mark the bottom of the placket. You now have a hole in the center of your romper back, about 1 inch wide and 4 1/2 inches long.
2) Pin placket sides. Fold your placket pieces in half, long sides together and press. With the romper back right side up, line up the cut edges of the pressed placket pieces with the cut edges of the romper back. The tops of the placket pieces should line up with the neck edge of the romper back, and the bottoms should extend below the bottom of the cut section. Stitch, using the double seam technique described here if desired (although you don’t have stretch the straight stitch. I just do the double seam here because it finishes the edges and looks nice. It won’t fray if you skip the zig zag). Fold and press plackets out, with one placket side laying on top of the other so that they fill in the hole you cut in the center of the romper back.
stitched (view from wrong side.)
3) Clip back at bottom of placket. (Warning: here’s where my words are failing me, and the pictures are utterly horrible. So sorry.) Clip the romper back at angles toward the plackets. Then trim the top of this newly created flap to 1/4″.
back bottom held to wrong side (view from wrong side)
4) Pin and stitch bottom edge of placket. Turn the romper back so that the wrong side is facing you. Fold the plackets out, and finger press this flap toward the back. The wrong side of the flap should be flat against the wrong side of the romper back. Then lay the plackets back in place over top the flap, one side over the other. Trim the bottom edges of the plackets even with the edge of the flap and pin through all of these layers (pin and stitch only through the plackets and the flap, leaving the romper back free). Stitch, first zig zagging back and forth at the edge and then with a straight stitch 1/4″ away, but do not stretch the straight stitch.
placket bottom stitched (view from wrong side)
5) Topstitch. Press all seams flat and away from center back opening, if you want to press (but be careful–I accidentally ironed a wrinkle into mine). Turn romper back so that the right side is facing you and topstitch approx. 1/8″ away from the edge of the placket on the back. Aren’t you amazed at yourself?
Coming soon: Shoulders, sleeves, and sides. Or shoulders and a neckband, you decide.
Hello, and thanks for your patience! In the past few weeks, we’ve moved in Massachusetts and married off our last remaining single sibling in Tennessee. Oh, and Gracie learned to clap and to say it is the cutest thing ever would surely cheapen the experience.
But back to the romper…
First, I forgot to say that if you don’t have a romper-style garment to copy, use any kind of onesie or sleep and play and just continue the line of the side to add legs. That’s why I like this style, very simple and easy to fit.
Cutting out your pattern is great fun, but more a matter of personal choice than anything else. Figure out how you want to preserve the image on your T shirt first, then arrange the rest of the pieces around that. Since the front and back are identical (you could raise the neckline in the back and lower it in the front if you wanted to, but it works well if they are the same in this style, which has a back placket and added neckline), you can simply lay out your T-shirt, smooth it down, and begin cutting your pattern pieces.
A tip: don’t throw away any T shirt scraps yet. They may come in handy later! Especially if you tend to mess up experiment a lot like I do.
Here’s how mine worked out.
- romper front & back -middle front & back of the T
- romper sleeves- one cut on the fold of each T sleeve
- T neckband to be used for romper neckband
- long side remnants to be used for back placket (cut 2: approximately 2 1/2″ wide and 6″ long, with the grain running up and down the length) and edgings for the sleeves and leg (approx. 2 1/2″ wide and a bit longer than the sleeve and leg edgings. Don’t stress about it.)
- long bottom remnant to be used for leg opening snap reinforcement (approx. 2 1/2″ wide. Length is, well, just make it longer than your leg opening!)
Some other tips: you can cut your romper sleeve at the edge of the T sleeve so that you use the hem that’s already made. You can do this with the leg openings, too, at the bottom of the T, if it doesn’t mess with the placement of your T image. It’s a great time saving step that also looks good!
And a view without the pattern pieces.
Up next: the back placket.
**The updated and improved version of this tutorial is at my new blog! Stop on by…
Tutorials, huh. Well, I will do my best to be clear and succinct, but if at any point you find me veering wildly off course into unwarranted verbosity, please recall my tagline up there at the top of the page.
Also, some of my techniques are downright rudimentary. You may not want to be this low class, but then again you may find something that works for you!
This tutorial is for a simple romper. I think it is easier than a snap-down sleeper for a few reasons, not the least of which is that the front and back are identical. It also preserves a centered T-shirt image. Oh, and I wanted to make one for my nephew. Thus, a tutorial is born.
You’ll need: a shirt, romper, onesie, something that fits your baby. Or you can wing it, but for this kind of thing I like to start with clothes that fit and make adjustments so they fit my baby. You’ll also need a T-shirt that is longer than your baby is tall. And snaps, and all of the usual sewing accessories.
Note on sewing knits: I don’t have a serger (Yet. Someday I will and I will flaunt it), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how my machine handles knits. I don’t use my walking foot because it does not like uneven layers and most of these seams are just that. Here are a few tips for sewing knits without a serger:
- I use the Jalie method on almost every seam: first, zigzag at the edges without stretching. Then do a straight stitch 1/4″ from the edge while stretching slightly.
- Always hold on to both threads when starting your seam. You can then use them to pull the fabric through the feed dogs so the needle doesn’t plunge them into your bobbin case and make that icky start to your seam.
- Use your hand crank a lot, especially when you begin a seam.
- Experiment a bit first so you know how your machine handles knits, especially in regards to beginning and ending a seam.
- Pin, pin, pin, pin (yes I am singing “Sing, sing, sing, sing” in my head as I type). Just makes life easier.
On to making your pattern…
1) Find a garment that fits your intended recipient and is similar in style to the one you want to make. Turn it inside out and trace all of the pieces. To make a nicer pattern, I trace the whole thing, then fold my in half, lift it to a light source, and cut on the average (so to speak) of my two traced lines. This way when I open it up, both sides are identical and I get the chance to edit my tracing.
I generally use a 1/4″ seam allowance, mostly because that’s what I like to sew but also because it makes it easy to trace the serged edges of your model garment and use the above described Jalie method of sewing knits.
Make alterations as needed to fine tune the fit to your baby (I added an inch in the trunk and an inch to the legs).
A note on sleeves: I used to try to make fancy-shaped sleeves such as you’d find in a pattern, but I’ve since found that I am just as happy in this case if I just fold the sleeve in half (oxter to shoulder) and cut on the fold. I use a length of yarn to measure my armscythe along the seam line and then use that yarn to fine-tune my sleeve tracing, also at the seam line.
Coming soon: the cutting.
Cheekiness aside, sorry for missing all of your comments!
Last week I was in the land of dial up internet and no cell phone service (aka, rural Ohio), this week I’m back in Boston, next week we close on our condo on Monday and leave for my SIL’s wedding on Tuesday, and the week after that we move. So you can see that my title refers to my physical status in addition to my mental state. I really am neither here nor there (anybody else singing “The Grand Old Duke of York” in your head right now? “And when they’re up, they’re up. And when they’re down, they’re down. And when they’re only halfway up they’re neither up or down”).
The scariest part is, what if this is my new normal?
But look! I’ve finally gotten around to posting pictures of Gracie’s Easter outfit!
The story is brief: I wanted to make a sweater for her out of this reclaimed yarn (no pattern, just a simple raglan), which happened to match this gifted fabric perfectly. I used view B of Butterick 3782, and contented myself with only a small amount of being put out with pattern makers who believe that a baby’s weight is the only measurement that matters. To make up for it I indulged in a little bit of self-righteous disgust that the inside finishing was so incomplete and lined the entire dress.
Then I made these shoes, which were indeed easy and foolproof. Sorry I didn’t get a good shot of those. Grace is moving too fast for my camera these days.
And, since I made a sweater it ended up being hot on Easter so I made a romper with bloomers, too. Very easy–look for my romper tutorial soon (or maybe in June sometime).
Thanks for stopping by!
Well, my intention to get a good photo shoot turned into “run up to the street and grab a few shots while the babe is napping.” But here they are, as worn.
A few things I love:
-the cost. I spent less than an hour cutting and around five hours sewing. The fabric was about $5/yd for a total of $10, the zipper was $0.35, thread was a few bucks each for yellow & blue but I will use them again, the pocket lining, well if I link to this post you’ll know it was basically free, and the jeans-style button was part of a pack of 6 for $1.50. Oh, and the pattern was I think $12, but this is the fourth time I’ve made it, so we’re down to $3 a pair.In other words, for around 15 bucks I have jeans that I love to wear.
And really, these took not a great deal more time than it would take for me to go to Target (let’s be honest here), find a pair of jeans on the rack that looks like it should be worn by Someone My Age, try them on, *turn 50 times in the mirror while squinting to try to convince myself that they look ok,* go get the next size up, repeat from * to *, go back to get the original size and decide what the heck, throw them in the cart, get groceries and wander the whole blasted store looking for whatever item is not where I think it should be (because that always happens to me at Target), find something else I didn’t know I needed, check out, get home, try them on for Tom, and finally repeat from * to * again. I’m not that vain, but maybe I am.
-these are the low rise version, and yet they still cover everything when I sit down. Amazing!
-I cut my waistband straight instead of on the bias. I’m going to do this from now on, because it fits really well whereas the other two pair stretched out during the day.
-Bonus of making jeans: now I am excited to see how they will wear in a month or two.
-this backside shot is not the greatest. (It can’t be my backside that’s the problem, though, can it?) I think they are better than they look here.
Thanks for all of your comments & support! I will be happy to cheer for you, should you decide to join me on the dark side of making jeans. If there’s anything I can tell you to help you decide to take the plunge, just let me know!
On track! Only tomorrow will tell if they are a hit or a miss…
PS Those are baby feet in the background!
The baby and the cat both wanted to get up at 3 am today. I was happy to oblige, as you can imagine.
The good news is that once they were both settled, I was decidedly not. So I put my hand to my latest pair of Jalie jeans and have declared a 3 day jeans challenge for myself. (Yes, I am obsessed, but if you were still wearing maternity pants when your waistline had long since returned to normal(ish) you might find yourself obsessed too.)
Today was pockets day, tomorrow shall be fly and long seam day, and Friday will bring the waistband, hem, buttonhole, and rivet (Secret message to Julie–JoAnn’s has jeans rivets for half off right now! I don’t know if that is better than buttons for what you’re doing, though).
Topstitching used to be no fun because I was certain to be unhappy with the results. But with my super special tracing paper method, I tend to be much less unhappy–nay, almost satisfied with my results!
STEP ONE & then some:
Make two blank templates from the pattern piece on tracing paper. Then fold the edges according to how they will be sewn (top 5/8″, sides and bottom 3/8″). Fold in half from top center to the point. Doodle your doodle on one half (you may want to spend some time doodling your doodle elsewhere first until you’re happy with your design). I have found that it is easier to be consistent with straight lines.
Unfold your edges and refold at the center line. Fold other blank template at the center line. Pin these two together, lining up the edges (in the following picture they are not lined up just to show you there are two).
Take the pair of templates to your un-threaded machine and prepare to stitch along your drawn lines. Carefully stitch along lines. I used a long stitch here, but next time I’m going to try using the same size I use for topstitching.
Unfold your two templates. Voila! You now have perfectly matching pockets! Pin to the fabric.
Thread your machine. I use two spools of thread on the top, and a normal bobbin. My machine does fine with this, but you may want to experiment first. Carefully stitch through tissue paper and fabric along your dotted lines.
I do a lot of “ooching”–lifting the presser foot and using the hand crank to shorten the last stitch before I want to turn to make sure I am exactly on my lines. Another tip: be sure that all of your threads are under the presser foot and trailing behind it as you start to avoid an ugly thread snarl.
Using tweezers, tear off the tissue paper. Attach pockets to backs at marks, make the rest of your jeans (it’s all downhill from here, baby).
Try to avoid stopping strangers on the street to ask them to admire your perfectly topstitched tush. *Highly recommended.
So here’s my progress so far! Pockets are done, man. Tomorrow it’s the fly, and were it any other fly front I’d be scared but the Jalie instructions are so good I might just forget to feed the cats again so I can be up & at ‘em at 3 am again. Or not.
What’s my excuse for missing Monday this week? A little thing called Patriots’ Day. Now there’s something I like about living in Massachusetts! Random holidays are always a check in the “pro” column.
I did manage to make a little dress for Gracie. It’s a test run for a dress that will match her cousin at my sister-in-law’s wedding. I need to add buttons and buttonholes today.
I’m going to make a few of these fabric high chairs for gifts, some shoes to match the dress I finished last week (of course, you saw that one coming six miles away), and I’d like to start my next pair of jeans. We’ll see!
Now for real content: I had thought that Tom’s trench was the sewing highlight of the year. I was wrong. I’ve started making sleepers for Gracie out of old T-shirts, and have been delighted to find it to be easy and have great results. She’s getting so big, I need to make up another batch. No serger needed!
need to fine tune my snap placement