Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Fit to a T baby romper, part 3: back placket

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.

DSC05174.JPGplackets pinned in place (view from right side)

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 clipped (view from right side)


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?


completed placket (I’d recommend not ironing in a wrinkle like I did!)

Coming soon: Shoulders, sleeves, and sides. Or shoulders and a neckband, you decide.


Fit to a T baby romper, part 2: cut it out

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!

fit to a T romper: cutting

And a view without the pattern pieces.


Up next: the back placket.

Fit to a T: baby romper, notes and preparing the pattern

**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.

Jeans, as worn today (and probably every day from here on out)

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!


Jeans day 3: DONE!

I’ll wear ’em for you and get modeled pics tomorrow.

Final count–
day 1: 2 hours
day 2: a little over 1 hour
day 3: 2 hours


Jeans day 2

On track! Only tomorrow will tell if they are a hit or a miss…

PS Those are baby feet in the background!

Jeans pockets–getting your rear in gear (a brief tutorial)

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.


Baby sun hat pattern


This pattern has been MOVED to our new home!

Stop on by!

Aug. 2010: and check out the new baby sunbonnet pattern while you are there!

From sew for baby

Today is the first day of the rest of your week

My blog gets unhappy when I start treating it like an FO parade. And since I’ve recently committed to keeping the blog happy, I’ve decided to take a page from these fine bloggers and do a themed post every Monday, wherein I capture the current state of my projects, whatever the state.

I’ve been planning my life by the week these days anyway (does that even make sense? No. Ok.) so in my head this posting schedule is part of one happy cycle of productivity. Laugh now, I understand. If I didn’t get all starry-eyed  at the idea of a new Organizational System I’d be laughing at myself too. But I am nothing if not an eternal giddy optimist when it comes to a System. As long as it is mine, of course, because I am nothing if not stubborn as an ox when it comes to fitting into someone else’s System.

The added bonus is that I am now forced to take bad pictures of my WIPs, instead of being bad at taking pictures of my WIPs. Someday, hopefully soon, I will leave this dim, leaky basement apartment and you will all be amazed at how light and airy my pictures become!

And off we go.

For knitting, I was going to knit two hats for my SIL, who is kind enough to like what I make and may have recently been involved in a felting debacle with the last hat I knit for her. I did what anyone in a similar situation would do: headed off to buy some acrylic! But my grandmother (she of house shoe fame, not the recent sock recipient) is in a nursing home for a bit, and so I am going to try my hand yet again at some crocheted house shoes again. I know, I know! Giddy optimist, remember? So the goal is one hat and at least one shoe.


Sewing-wise, I set out to sew a shirt that has been cut out for almost two years now. Fresh to sewing in the summer of 2008, I made three muslins and many adjustments to the pattern to get the fit I thought I wanted for this shirt. I think in my enthusiasm I maybe over fit it a little bit. And I certainly did a poor job cutting, as I discovered an unintentional center back seam this morning. Grr. Then I ran out of white thread.


Which means back to the drawing board, and my fallback position is…cutting out another pair of Jalie jeans. My sewing friend is coming over on Friday and I’d like to have something well underway for our session.

And oh, what a fine week it shall be! What are your plans?

Color me sheepish

One of the problems with not blogging for almost year is that I keep running across things I made, that I forgot I made, or at least forgot to tell you I made. Case in point: yesterday it rained (but not inside this time, thank goodness!) and I put on my raincoat. Then I thought, hey! I showed the blog Tom’s raincoat but not mine!

Then I thought, hmm, mine doesn’t look so good, maybe I’ll just keep it a secret. But this is a project from last March and I’ve learned a lot since then, so we’ll call this a lesson instead of a FO report.

The fabric is another JoAnn’s clearance find, not quite so opposed to the iron as Tom’s but prone to wrinkle (I was going to write “wrinkle like a mother,” but now that I am one that simile hits a little too close to home). The pattern (link to McCall’s site) is McCall’s 5060 (link to PR), and it went together fairly well (link to my PR review). Had some trouble with the collar, but I think that was more a result of me thinking I understood what was supposed to happen rather than actually understanding what was supposed to happen. That ever happen to you?

I made it double breasted (view C, but did the inseam pocket from view A) so that I could continue to wear it throughout my pregnancy last spring and early fall. By fall I couldn’t button it, but I could hold it closed and that was enough.


(the collar flip up is unintentional. I didn’t exactly spend a lot of time staging this shot. Although the lean-against-the-stroller-handle pose is rather nice, and true to life!)

You know, it’s funny that I forgot to show this to you because I have worn this so often. Last summer was chilly in June and I wore it about every day. Then every time it rained in July and I had a long walk from the train to the library I wore it. And last fall, even after Gracie-face came into the picture I shrugged it on quite a bit on milder days.DSC04045.JPG

However, even though it is on the most-played list, this coat will probably not make my greatest hits album. Indeed, had I blogged about it before I would have had a better sense of what was wrong with it. Perhaps blogging is not just vanity after all! 😉

First off, I thought I was being cool with the highly contrasting buttons but now I’m not digging them. I think it is the scale in addition to the color. They are too understated to be so bold, or something like that.

And second, I just don’t think it is that flattering. I realize that part of that is my fault because I scoffed at the shoulder pads but didn’t adjust the pattern for leaving them out. Also, I have since concluded that an under bust seam would be great. And, if I had blogged about it before, I would have seen that someone else on PR came to the exact same conclusion, with smashing results!

I do love the lining, though. Another clearance table steal, wish I’d bought more!