Thursday, December 13, 2012

Super simple blanket....

You know we all love those boutique style receiving blankets.  They are usually made of micro fleece or minky fabrics and oh!  How soft they are!  Well, did you know they're really easy to make?  No?  Okay, well lets make one!

Level: Beginner
Cost: depends on the fabrics you choose.
Time: About 45 minutes.

1) You'll need 1 yard of two different fabrics.
2) Scissors
3) Sewing machine with thread
4) Pins

Before we go any further, lets discuss your options for fabrics. 
Minky:  First let me say that I hate minky. It stretches, moves, and sheds.  Man does that crap shed!!  It gets in my nose and I sneeze fuzzy pink snot for days afterwards!  Not to mention, it's expensive.  Most is upwards of $12 per yard and is just ridiculous.  Try fleece instead!
Fleece: This is one of my favorite materials to work with for blankets.  It's very warm, but very light weight and you're able to use it in a ton of ways.  Fleece doesn't fray when you cut it so you can use it for all kinds of blanket projects.
Flannel: I LOVE flannel for blankets.  It's soft too, but a lot lighter weight than fleece.  It's perfect for making SUPER basic receiving blankets and is usually really cost friendly.  It goes on sale a lot and can be had for less than $3 per yard!  It does not stretch and frays, but frays beautifully.  I use it for exposed seams blankets very often, such a rag quilt.
Cottons: Basic cotton, oh I love thee. So many prints and colors, ah!! Cotton does not stretch, but does fray so the edges when working with it need to be finished (or hidden from wear).

Really you can use ANY combination of these fabrics in one blanket.  If you use a cotton for the front and a cotton for the back, you'll want to put a layer of flannel, fleece, or batting inside your blanket....but that's another tutorial for another day.

Lets get started.
Here are my fabrics:
 The first thing you want to do is lay out your fabrics.  My cotton print is face up and my pink fleece is on top of that.
Next, what we'll do is trim up the cotton so that it's the same size as the fleece.
Next, pin it all the way around, spacing pins about every 1.5-2 inches or so. I like to stick pins in to where I can sew right over them. Some like to pin sideways.  Up to you.

Next, sew all around the edges.  Be sure to leave about a 6 inch gap for turning the blanket right side out.
Once you sew all the way around (leaving your gap), pull the blanket thru the gap, turning it right side out.  You'll have a lil gap, with two folded edges that you need to pin closed.

  Now, you're going to pin all the way around the edges of the blanket again making sure your gap is closed and that your fabric is smooth.  (It's a lil hard to see my pins in the next pic, but they're there!)

Next, stitch pretty close to the edge of your blanket, catching both sides and your gap to sew it closed. Go all the way around.  This is called a top stitch.
Now, do it again.  It'll make a clean, nice "custom" edge on your blanket which is really lovely if you're giving them as gifts.

Now you have a gorgeous lil blanket you can give as a shower gift or make a nice pile for yourself for your new addition!

Happy Sewing!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chiffon Ballet Skirts

So, daughter started ballet last week and was FLOORED when I saw the price tags on stuff.  A silly little chiffon skirt?  $8 after taxes!  Being that I sew, I knew I could get the chiffon for cheaper.  Especially since the skirt I bought was only one layer.  I thought, Hey, I could do better than this!  Ha! 

That being said I hopped on over to my favorite place to buy chiffon!  AFC Express!  It's cheap, and it's great quality---oh, that being said, I'd like to point out a couple things.  1) Polyester chiffon, you can buy anywhere.  It's nice, it's pretty yada yada....but, when you cut it, it frays!  NO GOOD for these ballet skirts.  Unless you wanna hem,  I'm lazy!  2) AFC Express carries NYLON chiffon.  Soft, sorta stretchy, and does NOT fray!  Yay for not having to hem in a circle!! WOOT!

So for this project, you'll need:
1) About 1 yard of NYLON chiffon. (Savvy's existing skirt is a size 4/5 in girls.  1 yard was plenty.  I'd say around size 7/8 ish, you'll need a little more than that)
2) An old tshirt or 1/4 yd of jersey knit fabric.
3) Elastic 1/4 inch.

You'll also need the obvious.  A skirt you like so you can recreate it, scissors or rotary blade, sewing machine w/ thread and a work surface.  For me, that's my floor.

Step One:  Making the Pattern and Cuts.
First thing we'll do is lay out our fabric.  Fabric always comes folded in half.  On chiffon, you'll recognize the selvage edge immediately.  It almost looks/feels crunchy, and directly across from that is the fold.  Leave it folded in half the way it came.  The skirt above is only ONE layer...I like TWO. :)

Once you've got your fabric laid out, open up your skirt and lay it right on top of your fabric.  Now...there's TWO ways you can cut out your've seen those jagged edge skirts right?  With the points on them?   They're called a "handkerchief hem". Sort of like this:

Okay, so the two ways you can cut around your skirt.  If you want the hanky hem cut it like this:
If you want the circle style of the original, cut it like this:
You'll cut all the way around, through both layers of the chiffon, but watch that skirt...don't cut that!
From here on we're dealing with the circle skirt: 
Mine's cut out:

My chiffon is cut away and I have three layers.  My skirt, my two layers of chiffon.

Next we're going to cut out our waist.
Take a sharpie, pen, pencil, whatever will show up on your chiffon.
And mark out where your waist should this:
(The red dots are my marks, but you can still barely see my black sharpie dots too!)
Then, remove your skirt being careful not to let your chiffon layers under it go flying.  Fold your circle in half.
The red arch represents where my markings for the waist are.

Then, fold it in half again, left to right.
Now you should be able to still see your waist markings in the corner where the right angle is.  We're going to cut that now.

Careful not to cut too much off.  If you make the hole too big, we're boned :(  cut it RIGHT where your marks are.

Now set that aside. 

Step 2: The Waistband
For the waist band, I like to use the bottom hem off of a stained, worn, ripped t-shirt.  It can be a size too small. We all have a t-shirt from our kids that wasn't accepted at the resale shop, that no one wanted as a hand-me-down, or is even worn out enough that the shirt doesn't even suffice for play clothes.  So, I'm using that.  If you're using a bolt cut of jersey knit, you'll have an extra step.

Take your jersey or your t-shirt hem and lay it flat.  Iron if necessary.  Now, I have a cutting/measuring board, but you can easily use a ruler or measuring tape.  You need a two inch wide strip.

I laid the edge where I cut off my tshirt on a line on my cutting board.  (Bottom)
Then, I cut off a two inch strip using my rotary blade.
Using a t-shirt is great because the side seams are already in place (Yippee!!) But if you're using jersey knit, you have an extra step.  You'll need to measure your kiddo's waist and make an additional cut on your strip to that length.  then, folding right sides together, stitch your strip into a circle/band.  Then you can lay it out as shown above. 

Still following?  Okay, moving on.

Step 3: Attaching the Skirt

Now what we're going to do is grab our skirt again.  Remember there are two layers of chiffon and one waist band.
Separate the skirt pieces.  Flip one up and leave the other laying down. Like this.
Make sure your waist band is still RIGHT SIDE OUT...Seams on the inside of your tube.
If you have your skirt laid out like above, we're going to move our bottom skirt out of the way (In the pic below, it's above where I'm doing my pinning.)
Using pins, pin your skirt to your waist band.  Like shown:
Now we'll sew. Using a zig zag stitch, we're going to sew the skirt to the waist. On my machine it's number 4.

As you're sewing, make sure that when your needle goes to the right, you're NOT sewing on the skirt, then when it goes to the left, it is.  Follow like the zig zags I drew into the above pics.

Your lower skirt is now sewn on!  Yay!!  Now, for the top part.  Repeat what you just did.  Pin the other skirt to your waist band, flipping it down, putting the edge of your skirt up to the edge of your waist band. See below: (Remember to check your waist band!  Make sure it's still right side out!)

Now that both of your skirts are sewn on, it should look like this:

Moving on!

Step 4: Finishing the Waist
Take that top skirt and tuck it down INSIDE the other skirt, folding your waist in half.  Line up the edges of the waist band and pin in place then stitch down. Right along your edges you just made with the zig zags.

And now, fold your waist band over again, pinning in place, or folding over as you sew...I chose to fold while I sew.
Notice how where I folded my waist band over, I was sure to just barely cover where I'd zig zagged?  Stitch just over top of those seams or right under them. Dont sew all the way though, leave yourself about an inch for your elastic.

Measure your child's waist and subtract 2.  That's the length of the elastic you need. Pin a safety pin to the end of your elastic

                  (A), push thru the opening
                  (B),  when you have about a 2 inch tail, pin the elastic in place
                  (C), continue pushing thru until the elastic comes out the other side....again, about 2 inches are needed here.

Over lap your elastic about an inch or so and pin in place.
Sew back and forth to hold the ends of the elastic down.
Remove your pin.  Pull on your waist band a bit and your elastic should slide right into your casing, then stitch that lil opening closed. 

Guess what.  You're done :)
Add a little bow if you're feeling creative and then let your little dancer twirl!!! :)

Happy Sewing!!! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cloth Diapers. My way.

Yawn.  Hi guys.  Well so I decided to stay up and make a couple more diapers for my princess, but alas, it is late, and I only finished one....  But good for you guys because this time, I took pictures!  Yay!!  So, who wants to learn how to make a cloth diaper??  Well, grab a cup of coffee and settle in.  This one might be a little long!

2 - 1 yd peices of Flannel fabric (you can also use cotton for the outer part of the diaper, but for this tut, we're sticking to flannel!)
Sewing Machine
1/4 or 3/8 in elastic.
Small Safety Pin
1 prefold Gerber Diaper (sold in a 12 pack at Walmart, trust me, you'll use em!)
Velcro or closure of your choice
Pattern (I'll explain that in a sec.)

Pattern info: I derived my pattern from one of my daughter's disposables.  I simply opened it up, pinned it to some computer printer paper, and traced around it. You can do that too, easily.  Use a pencil so you can fix mistakes if necessary.  Also in the picture you'll notice it's HALF a pattern.  What I did was place my disposable on the edge of the paper, centered.  This allowed me to trace only one side of the diaper (way easier!) and will help with having more symmetrical diapers.  Tabs are the same size, thigh holes, etc.

Usually, fabric is sold already folded in half, selvage to selvage.  So you'd have 45 inches of fabric by 36 inches of fabric, but since it's folded in should have about 22 inches by 36 inches.  First we are going to make the inside, or the lining, of our diaper. Choose one of your flannels, preferably a solid color.  I used white for the inside of my diapers this time.With the fold facing up, you're going to fold the sides together to touch.  Then you'll place your hand drawn pattern onto the fold of your fabric that you created. (Remember, we only drew HALF a pattern on the paper, so we need to have it on a fold.)

The store fold is at the top, my fold is at the left.

Now, I have made several diapers with my pattern and have discovered that my daughter needs longer tabs (in the above photo, these tabs I'm referring to are the ones at the top of the pattern).  So when I cut out my diapers, I made my tabs longer when I cut.  You can do this too, just cut a couple more inches out from the pattern.You'll notice in the picture below that the tabs (now on the bottom) are longer than my paper pattern.

The red square above indicates the fabric we will use to create our mini liners.  Now...unpin your pattern from your fabric and unfold.  You should have TWO pieces.
These are the INSIDE of your diaper.  Set them aside while we cut out our soaking liners.  Take the left over fabric from cutting out your liners and create two long rectangles from your left overs.  I like a 5 inch by 14 inch soaking liner.

Now, you'll have four rectangles.  Take two and pin them to the diaper lining we just cut out, one on top of the other.
Go ahead and pin in the other liner too.  Then you'll have two diaper liners with two rectangles each pinned to them.

Next what we're gonna do is cut out our EXTERIORS.  Take your other yard of fabric and lay your diaper lining on top of it.  Since it's flannel it should "stick" to it.  This means you probably can lightly pin it down without much movement while cutting.  My daughter has requested a purple diaper and a Scooby Doo Diaper (Scooby is gonna have to wait! LOL!)

Diaper liner laying on top of my exterior fabrics.
Cut around your diaper liner.  You'll have two exterior diaper fabrics.  Mine are Scooby and one is purple.
Interior liner, Purple exterior, Scooby exterior, cut to size of interior liner.
What we need to do next is grab our prefold diaper.  We're gonna lay it out flat, then fold down the top, and fold up the bottom.
 Lay your prefold (folded side down) on your diaper exterior fabric.  You'll notice it's likely too long.  No biggie. We'll fix that in a sec.

Savvy baby is a girl, so I know better than to think that this straight rectangle is going to catch all her peepee.  So what I did was fan out the sides of the folds on the prefold diaper to create an hour glass up front.

Being that your prefold liner is too long, simply eye ball how far back you think your lil one can go, and snip it off....
I fanned out my backside too on Savvy's diaper, so that it really looks like an hour glass.

I pinned that down.  Now is where we sew.  Grab one interior piece and one exterior piece and head to the sewing machine.  Set your machine to a zig zag stitch on a very wide width.  You're going to need to make sure the edges of your liner pads are caught just INSIDE the stitching.  See photo below.

See how the stitches are right at the edges of my liner pads?

Do the same to your exterior with the prefold.  Get as close as you can to those edges.
Now that you've finished stitching down your pads, we're going to put the diaper together. Take your exterior diaper piece and lay it pad side down on your floor work surface.
Then put the lining, pad side UP on top of it.
See my purple peeking out?
Pin it down well because when you sew around curves, fabric tends to shift a little.  When you pin it, you're going to leave a large gap about the width of your hand or larger on what is going to be the FRONT of the diaper (the end with the shorter tabs) because we have to turn it right side out after this.  Use a straight stitch to stitch all the way around.
Once it's stitched down, stick your hand in there.  Does it fit?  Good.  Turn the diaper right side out then! 
Reminds me of Popples.  Did you ever have one?  Love the early 90's toys, but I digress!
Now that it's turned right side out, lay it back down to pin. We have to make marks for where our elastic is going to go.
The red lines on the above photo indicate where your pins should be for elastic casing. Along both legs, and along the back of the diaper.  The back is the end with the longer tabs.  You're going to use a straight stitch and stitch about 1/4 inch away from the edge of your diaper along those marks, don't go too much further than that.

The red arrows in this photo indicate where your casings are.  Notice how I stayed right near where my pins are. This is important because you don't want your diaper to end up being too small.

Another pic with arrows to indicate your casings for reference.

Grab your elastic and a small safety pin.  Cut your elastic to the length you need it to be. You'll need three pieces. For a newborn it'll be small.  My daughter wears a size 4 diaper and I made her elastic pieces 8 inches each.  Allow a little extra room because you'll need some over hang.
Put your safety pin thru the end of your elastic.

Now please, on this part bear with me because it's tricky to show so I have to try to explain.  Put your hand inside that opening that you used to turn the diaper right side out.  Push your hand all the way up to the back of the diaper.

The first piece of elastic will be installed in the casing at the back of the diaper.  Using your other hand, guide the safety pin into the casing and continue to push it through.  Make sure you use your hands to feel where the elastic is. When you feel the one end of the elastic getting shorter, pin it down.  Then continue to push it through.  Then pin the other end when you have a little extra hanging out of the casing.
The red marks indicate my extra elastic. Can you see where my pins are?  I'd say there is an extra 1/2 to 1 inch of elastic hanging over.
 Now you have to stitch that down with a straight stitch...these stitches will be the opposite direction of your casing, creating a rectangle of stitches on three sides and the edge of the diaper at the top.
Now, stick your hand back in there and retrieve your safety pin, then reload it with another piece of elastic.
Now to do the legs.  This is easier to get pushed thru because you have more room to do so.  So put your hand back in there and find your casing, don't forget, don't let the ends slink into the casing.  You need the extra hang over to stitch it down.
Leg elastic pinned down.
Stitch down your elastic on the leg, just like you did before.  Then do the other leg.

When your elastic is all installed, remove your safety pin.  Don't wanna leave that bad boy inside the diaper!  Double check for other pins too, just to be sure.

Next, flatten out your diaper and close up your opening by tucking the raw edges of your fabric down inside the diaper, and pinning it together.  You can press the diaper with an iron for clean lines.  Then with a straight stitch, you're going to stitch that front opening closed, but start at one side where your elastic casing is, and stitch all the way around the front of the diaper (short tabs end!) to the other side where the other casing is. This method will catch that opening and close it up. It should look like this all the way around the front end of the diaper.:

Nice clean pretty edges.  Now do the back and sides too.  You're pretty much finished now.  After this point, you'll add on your closure of choice.  I know some people like snappies, diaper pins, safety pins, etc, but my choice is velcro. So I cut myself out two tab pieces and one long strip for the front. I like the long front for multisizing purposes.

Close it up, and you're finished!
Go make a bunch for your kiddo and save a butt load (ha!) of money without having to use disposables!!!
Enjoy my daughter's tush!

So cute right?!  :)