Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ongoing battle with the Maddy top

I love Burdastyle's Maddy top, and I've never made anything like it before. So far, I've put together two practice Maddies, niether one of them wearable. I'm not ready to give up yet, and hope to have a third one cut out later today.

The pattern:

This is my first Maddy. I wanted to eliminate the zip, so I tried making the top out of knit. I used a vintage 1970's navy and white dotted fabric. This top actually fits pretty well, and the knit makes the zip unneeded. The problem is that the second I stepped out the door and into the searingly humid Missouri midsummer heat, I was reminded of why polyester was the bane of my seventies childhood. The fabric made me incredibly uncomfortable and sweaty. It felt like I had a garbage bag wrapped around my torso. Ick.

Enter the second top, made out of a vintage cotton piece of yardage from the thrift store and a bit of pink quilting fabric. The vintage fabric had faded spots that I tried to cut around. About that zipper---I thought I had a zipper foot for my machine. If I did, it is long gone. Since I have never put a zip in anything since I was 15 years old and in home economics class, I never noticed it was gone. Heh. Anyhow, I attemped to put in the zip with a regular presser foot. It worked---kinda. The seam is a little further out than I'd like, but the real issue here is that I put the zip in too high. The poor thing looks like it's trying to escape this garment! Haha! I may pick it out later and put in a blue zip with a real zipper foot. Even though this zipper placement sucks, I'm no longer scared of putting them in, and once I either get a new machine (needed soon), or find a zipper foot for a 1992 slant shank Singer, I'll be doing many more zippers. Lower down, of course. The point is that zippers are easier than I thought. :o)

The tops were both made in size 48 and both fit me.

Behold the neck pokey zipper!
The next Maddy will be a newer knit, in a cotton blend, with the insert being a paisley quilting scrap. I think I might be a glutton for punishment because this knit may be tough to gather. Oh well. Maddy works best as a knit top for me right now. I like the idea of a pretty print for the center, and I can't find many novelty knits here in the middle of nowhere. So we'll see how the combo of woven insert and knit top goes.

Maybe by next week I'll have a wearable Maddy.

Happy sewing!


Clothes for my toddler boy from old polo shirts

Hi again. I'm going to make every effort to get caught up on posting my projects here and on Wardrobe Refashion this weekend. Last month, I mentioned that I was waiting for a LEKO software pattern from It got lost in the mail and they sent a second copy which arrived last week. I've just begun to play with it, but made this shirt for my youngest out of polo shirt fabric scraps. There are parts from three different shirts in this project, and it fit him really well. I got lazy with the hem and didn't press before sewing, so it's a little wavy, but not too bad. I think I might add a little length to to pattern for my guy, though. He is long-waisted, like me. Here's another ex-polo shirt, with bands made from an old turtleneck. I've learned that turtlenecks make great neck and sleeve ribbing for T shirts. They have a lot of stretch, are soft because of the cotton cottent, and most importantly, are easy to find in the closet or at the thrift store in any color you might want! Suggestion: Make a test neckband to pull over your head before setting your collar to make sure you've picked a knit with enough give to it. So far I've had no problems with that, but that might just be luck. :)

This shirt hides juice stains really well! It's a busy black and white knit that looked horrible in the original men's polo shirt, but works well as a ringer tee.
I haven't sewn these yet, but the turtleneck will yield up a soft pair of play shorts to wear with the above shirt.
Here's that red and white polo fabric again:
And again, in a shirt for my eight year old. He wanted a red white and blue shirt, and we raided our old clothes for the blue tie dyed shirt. This was a test of the LEKO pattern software for his measurments, and it came out as a perfect fit for him. I think the software will work best for a child from about age 6-10. I'm still not ready to write a review of it, and have had less than stellar results with some of their free downloads for grownups (but I'm an odd set of measurements!). You can check it out here, if you like. The price is not bad:
This is the shirt my son is wearing in the action shot.

Thes pics ended up out of order, but this is how I cut out another shirt from a humongous polo shirt with a logo on the front. By folding both sides in to the center, I was able to make both the front and back sections out of the front of the shirt. You can't see it here, but the placket and the logo are above the section where I cut. It was a wide and boxy men's XL. This shirt ended up as a ringer T with black from the turtleneck I've been dicing up, and I will embellish it with a stencil or an applique later on. I was going to use the decorative knit from the original shirt on the bottom hem, but later chose not to.
See how far off the grain the polo was originally cut? Stuff like this makes me feel soooo much better about my nascent sewing skills...
I made shorts out of the same shirt... The grain was way off on the sleeves of the original shirt, but I lined it up and got his sleeves from this piece.
Here, I am using the sleeves of the turtleneck for sleevebands!

The ugly old victim shirt.
I have been noticing that a lot of boy clothes are made out of polo pique. It wears like iron! I will definitely be making more polo shirt creations. I have some new victim shirts lined up and ready to cut up. Sorry for the inevitable typos I may not have caught in this post. I'm posting pre-coffee this morning.
Happy sewing!

I love Threadbanger tutorials!

Oh my goodness, I have a lot to catch up on. I've been sewing and crafting, but not getting things posted. I'll start out with the rockstar shirt I made for my 16 year old. Above, this is what the finished shirt looks like after a trip though the washer and dryer. I wish I had better photos, but my son ran off with his new shirt before I was able to get them. This is a crappy nightime shot with an older camera. Later on I'll post an action shot. He has already worn it several times since I gave it to him.

I used the fabulous tute over here:

I did not have two matching T-shirts at home, so I grabbed two shades of red off of the 25-cent table at the thrift store. Once I got the shirts set up and marked off the 2-inch intervals, the sewing went really fast! I placed my finger behind the pressor foot at intervals to build a little stretch onto the sewing. I wasn't worried about how even my stitches would look, since most of them would end up hidden anyhow. I wanted to do what I could to make this project durable enough for a young rocker who may not always be gentle with his clothing. This technique is called "crimping" or "crowding" the fabric, and it builds in a little ease. I'll take a picture of me doing this sometime in the future. It's a super-helpful technique.

Below is the shirt right after I finished cutting it, and before I washed out the marking pen. I was so thrilled to be able to make something that my kid would wear and enjoy. I will be making him a couple more of these in time for school. He says that in the fall he'll layer them on top of a long-sleeved shirt. He wants a black and gray one, and I'm also going to experiment with putting a stencil (maybe a guitar or a skull) on the inner shirt so it will be peeking though the cut away sections.

This project was fun, quick and satisfying. Give it a try!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wedgies no more! A quick toddler suit recon.

I've had this idea in my head for some time now, and I finally got around to giving it a try. I have noticed that all my boys got longer before they got wider as toddlers, and bodysuits that would otherwise fit them would give them wedgies when snapped together at the bottom. I used to take the suits up to the thrift shop to donate them, and hope I could find longer ones. My kids were all long-waisted as little ones, and it is really hard to find bodysuits for my youngest, who has a really long waist. I got the idea that I could just serge in a piece of knit to make the suits long enough to make my little guy comfy while playing. I'm still on the learning curve with sewing knits, but more or less ended up with the results I wanted.

My pictures ended up a bit out of order, and I'm not sure how to fix that yet, so here we are with the finished product:

I decided it needed to be topstitched down in some way, or the serged seams might bother baby. I used a zigzag stitch, and it's not as neat as I'd like. I need to buy a twin needle as soon as I can find one. In any case, baby likes it, and that's what matters the most.
No more wedgies!

Here is the wedgie suit. It fits him from side to side, but it is too short to snap shut without causing discomfort and making his diaper smoosh to one side. Poor little guy, he can't wear this thing anymore...

I picked a spot to cut it, and decided a four-inch wide strip of knit would correct the problem. I used new knit from my yardage stash, but a used shirt would have been better, because it would have been preshrunk and presumably softer as well. But it's the fourth of July, and I wanted to fix this little suit today. The suit has some small faded juice stains on it and isn't in perfect condition, so it made a good victim for experimentation.
I cut the knit to match the garment's width, and serged the new section of knit together at the sides.
Matching seam to seam, I serged it to the top section, right sides together.

It is hard to make sure that the seams line up exactly, but if you go slowly, you can get them pretty close. In any case, chances are no one will ever notice.
Adding the bottom of the suit. I had to remind myself to make sure I that kept the butt in the back. :o)
Here is the finished suit before topstitching. If my blue knit had been a little softer, I would have left it alone, but I felt like it would irritate baby if it was not stitched down flat to garment's inside.
I am so going to try this again. We really like toddler playsuits that have the bottom snaps. Now we can keep them for a while longer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I took the pledge!

Hopefully the button will work...

I, LaughingLark, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings! Signed, LaughingLark.

I am very excited about this! I'm already planning my next refashion...

Big doesn’t have to be boring!

Oh my! I have discovered the joy of bleach-stenciling with freezer paper! This shirt is the union of a big teal turtleneck (nearly 100% cotton), and a stretchy metallic turtleneck from the thrift shop. Each cost me twenty-five cents.

I wanted to give T-shirt stenciling a try, but I don’t have a lot of time to cut out a detailed stencil. I had been looking at mandalas for my son to color the other day, and I got to thinking that it would be cool to stencil or paint one on the side of a shirt, and I may do that someday, but for the time being I wanted something more “immediate gratification” that I could get done in an evening. Enter the snowflake shirt…

I cut apart my huge cotton turtleneck, with no help from the cat, and then the fun began.

What I did here is the same as what we all used to do at Christmastime in primary school: cut snowflake decorations out of paper. Only, in my case, I used a piece of freezer paper and tried to keep the design more flowerlike and less “snowflaky”. I added some butterflies for the heck of it. Then I cut my giant snowflake in half.

Moving on, I took a big piece of freezer paper, and ironed it, shiny side to fabric, to the back of my cut-apart shirt front section, then I flipped it right side up. I then positioned my two pieces of flower/snowflake/whatever where I wanted them, and ironed them to the shirt, shiny side down. I wish I’d taken some pictures of this process, but I was too eager to see how it would turn out. I may make a tute later on, if you like. It’ll be easier to write tutes when my son starts summer day camp next week. :)

I then took a spray bottle with bleach in it and misted some over the design. Then I got impatient and misted on more. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE! Less is more. If I had waited a minute or two more, the bleach would have started to do its thing just fine. Since I sprayed on too much, it bled under my paper, blurring my design. Sigh…

I worked right next to my kitchen sink, and as soon as the color faded as much as I wanted, I started rinsing, rinsing, rinsing as fast as I could. Then I filled the sink about halfway, and dumped in a bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% to neutralize the last of the
bleach. Some websites tell people to use vinegar to stop the bleach, but that produces chlorine gas. Don’t do it! Maybe those folks work outside, or have rinsed super-carefully, but vinegar just isn’t safe.

After a short soak in the hydrogen peroxide and water, into the washer it went. While washing and drying, I picked a pattern and cut out the rest of my shirt parts. I wanted to be done before going to bed.
I forgot to take off my pedometer for the picture, and right after this pic I went for my walk. The pedometer will be my friend for the next few months.
I got it done in an evening, and it was super-easy. I’ll make more snowflake/medallion shirts because they are fun, fast and cheap! I think I might just put the next design on one side of the shirt, though. Or maybe up around the collar area. In any case, there will be more of them.

Thanks for looking!