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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Me be a princess, Mama?

Fabric store purchase = $70*

Staying up till 2:30 a.m. wrestling with FOE and nylon/spandex fabric = $ At least 30 new gray hairs — perhaps years off my life

Fulfilling birthday boy's only wish (a pink dress) = Priceless


*Don't worry, I purchased more than just the dress fabric.

Photography and model = My sister

The Chicken's FOE tutorial, which I should have read first.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sweater Sleeve Kid Pants Tutorial

This is not fine sewing — you'll want to skip this post if your inner perfectionist screams at the idea of "winging it." This is a fun and funky tutorial to help you make a pair of kids pants out of the sleeves of a wool sweater. I used a pair of 18-mos-sized sweatpants as a pattern, and adjusted for length to fit my tall 2-1/2-year-old. The sweater I used is at least an adult XL with long, raglan sleeves. To see the other pants that I made with sweater sleeves, see my original post here.

What you will need:
  • A 100% wool sweater, adult-size (Large, XL or beyond)

  • A pair of kid pants that have a rise that fits the child recipient (you can add length if you have enough sweater)

  • Enough 1/2-inch elastic to wrap around the child's waist, plus a little extra (you could use other elastic widths, just make sure to adjust the waistband accordingly)

Step 1: Gather your materials
Start with a Large or XL, 100% wool, adult-sized sweater. The bigger the better, because you never know how much it will shrink when you "felt" it.

Step 2: Cut out your pattern
Cut along the inseam of the pants that will become the pattern. This photo looks like I cut through both layers together, but I didn't. If you look at the back of the pants, you can see I started on the other side and worked my way around. I used size 18 mos. sweatpants, because I knew that the inseam fits my two-and-a-half-year-old, and that I could add length.

Step 3: Get your fabric ready
Wash and dry the wool sweater to "felt" it. Cut the sleeves off sweater at the seams. I washed and dried this wool sweater in hot water with soap a few times before deciding to cut into it. I could have "felted" it more, but I figure it's fine as is.

Step 4: Layout your pattern (part 1)
With inseam and sleeve seam on the same side, lay the "pattern" over the "fabric."

Step 5: Layout your pattern (part 2)
Make sure the you have enough width at the top by stretching out the elastic. Move the pattern up or down till you get enough width for the waist (plus a small seam allowance) as well as the right length at the bottom.

Step 6: Cut inseam
Following the curve of the sweat pants inseam, cut the sweater to match. On these sweats, the inseam has the same curve for the front and back. The only difference is the rise is shorter in the front, longer in the back.

Step 7: Rough cut the waist
Follow the curve of the highest part of the waist (the back) and leave an extra inch or so for turning to make the casing for the elastic.

Step 8: Trim the front rise (part 1)
With inseams up, place the pant leg on top of the sweater in preparation for trimming the waist. See how the rise is lower in the front.

Step 9: Trim the front rise (part 2)
Leaving about an inch allowance for the casing for the elastic, and following the curve of the waist, trim off the excess waist in the front of the pants (see orange line in step 8).

Step 10: Rough cut second leg
With inseams on the same side, lay the first leg/sleeve on the second sleeve to use as a pattern. Cut rise and waist.

Step 11: Trim waist/front rise of second leg
Make sure that you flip the second leg over, so that inseams are where they should be — on the inside. You are making mirror copies of the legs, a right and a left leg. You don't want two of the same leg. Match up the crotch and the waists, then trim the front waist/rise of the second leg. I ended up trimming a bit of the back because it curved up to a point. You want it to be fairly straight across the back.

Step 12: Prepare for sewing
Turn one leg wrong-side out, then insert the other leg so that the right-sides are together and the inseams match up.

Step 13: Pin together
With inseams (and stripes if you have them) matched up, pin legs together. Make sure the waist and rise match. One of my legs had some excess at the back rise, so I trimmed it off.

Step 14: Sew inseam
With a zigzag stitch, sew along inseam, removing pins before you get to them. Sew inseam twice. To get the knit fabric to go through my machine smoothly, I pulled a little on the back of it as I was sewing.

Step 15: Top-stitch inseam (optional)
On the right-side top-stitch next to the inseam to help the seam lie flat on the inside. You can skip this step.

Step 16: Turn waist edge (optional)
Turn the top edge of the waist to the inside, about a quarter of an inch, and sew down with a zigzag stitch. Alternately, you could just run a zigzag around the top edge without turning in down. This might be a better option, since the turning adds bulk around the waist.

Step 17: Make casing
After finishing the edge of the waist, fold over the waist about an inch and pin. Starting at the back of the pants, sew a zigzag stitch around the pants waist, stopping a couple inches before completing the circle. You need to leave an opening to run the elastic though.

Step 18: Add the elastic
Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and run it through the casing, making sure to not twist it. Keep holding the other end of the elastic so you don't lose it inside the casing. Safety pin the elastic ends together and try pants on the recipient. I skipped this step and the next, and had to undo a bunch of stitches to make adjustments to the elastic.

Step 19: Sew the elastic together
After the elastic is properly sized, pull it through the opening in the casing and run some zigzag stitches along it to close the loop.

Step 20: Close the casing
After making sure the elastic fits properly, sew up the remaining casing. You're done!

Step 21: Bribe child to take photo
Let child watch video so you can take a no-flash photo that's less blurry. Ignore slightly wonky inseam, and enjoy!

Step 22: Bike ride
Make up for video watching with bike ride and outdoor photo shoot. Much better.

Larger photos can be found over at the flickr set.


Trivia tidbit: My photo of the original recycled sweater pants appears in wee form in the book Knitalong by Larissa Brown and Martin John Brown.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Kids Sweater-Apron Tutorial (Re-visited) & Give-Away


Remember my Kids Sweater-Apron Tutorial from a while back? Well, I decided to post the entire thing over here on my blog, instead of redirecting everyone over to my Flickr. It's another one of my ploys to draw readership and get to know more about my readers (last time I got to meet so many lurkers — fun). And, just to make it exciting for youz guyz, there's going to be another give-away. Since my sons love the original two aprons, I've made up another one (solid gray with stripe-y pocket and navy trim) for the lucky winner. This time it's cashmere — what it lacks in density and structure it makes up for in softness — mmmmmmm, cashmere. It's big enough for a five-year-old, but could be worn by someone more wee.

Same rules apply: leave a comment on this post, AND, link back to this tutorial on your blog or flickr. In about a week, I'll have a kid pick a name out of a bowl. I'll post a reminder with the actual cut-off time before then.


Green Kitchen's


One shrunken adult-sized wool sweater
Seam binding or other edge trim
Buttons (optional)
Sewing machine
Thread to match or contrast

Getting Started: The Rough Cut
Step 1: The Rough Cut
Take one fulled/felted/shrunken sweater, and, using pinking shears, cut along the seams to separate the pieces (front, back, sleeves). You should be able to make two aprons out of one sweater. Hold the body piece of sweater up to the recipient for sizing. Make adjustments to length, width, neck shaping, etc. This sweater was just right for my son, so I didn't alter the shape. The second apron I made (see end of this post) was a slightly different design with more altering. Use your imagination and let the sweater give you ideas for what works best.

Trim Seams
Step 2: Trim the Seams
Trim off any thick seams. You only want to have one thickness of sweater to work with.

Make it Symmetrical
Step 3: Even Things Out
Fold sweater piece in half vertically to make sure the sides are symmetrical. Trim where necessary.

Choose a Binding
Step 4: Choose a Binding
I used a polyester knit seam binding because that is what I had around. Having a knit binding is important because you need to stretch the binding around the thick sweater edge. I'm sure you could do it with a woven, but you'd need to make sure it's pretty wide to take the sweater thickness into account. Make sure you have enough binding before you start sewing. Don't trim it until you have sewn it on.

Sew Binding to Back
Step 5: Sew Binding to Back
On wrong side of sweater, zigzag stitch the seam binding around the apron. Try to keep the stitching close to the edge of the sweater, so, that when you turn the binding to the other side, it gets hidden by the binding. I went quickly and some of my zigzag shows on the front.

Miter Corner
Step 6: Miter Corner
At corners, lift foot and miter the corner of the binding. Lower foot and continue. The knit binding is pretty forgiving, so I didn't worry too much about making perfect corners. I just tried to not have obvious gaps or lumps.

Binding End
Step 7: Binding Off
When you get all the way around the apron, trim off extra seam binding, leaving a couple inches for finishing.

Cut Corners
Step 8: Cutting Corners
Because of the thickness of the sweater, clip the corners to make it less bulky before finishing the binding.

Binding Front
Step 9: Binding Front Side
Fold seam binding over to the front of the apron and straight stitch it close to the edge of the binding.

Seam Binding End
Step 10: Seam Binding Finish
This is how I finished off my binding. It's not beautiful, but I couldn't really think of something else to do to make it look better without doing some hand stitching. I zigzagged the end, overlapped, and stitched. Folding over the end would have made it much too bulky.

Neck Strap & Ties
Step 11: Neck Strap & Ties
To ready the seam binding for the neck strap and apron ties, I zigzag stitched the seam binding to itself so that it wouldn't flap open. You could leave this step out if you are in a hurry. You can see by my uneven stitching that I was in a bit of a hurry.

Neck Strap
Step 12: Attach Neck Strap
Fold over ends of neck strap and stitch to sweater fabric just under the binding at the shoulders. I didn't stitch the neck strap to the binding because I didn't want it to show on the front. This made for a bit of extra work because I ended up hand stitching the front of the neck strap to the shoulder of the apron to avoid the gap.

Apron with Neck Strap
Step 13: Strapped
This is the back of the apron after the seam binding and neck strap are attached.

Fashion a Pocket
Step 14: Fashion a Pocket or Two
I used one of the sweater sleeves to make the pockets. A contrasting sweater piece could also be nice. Cut along the seam on the sleeve to see what you have to work with.

Layout Pockets
Step 15: Lay Out Pockets
I used the sleeve cuff for the little top pocket and the bulk of the rest of the sleeve for the big pocket. Trim pockets to fit, making sure to square them up as you go. Use your creativity when choosing pocket placement, size, and orientation.

Pocket Detail
Step 16: Pocket Detail
The little pocket at the top is made from the sleeve cuff. Since it's edge is already finished I didn't do any seam binding, just turned the edges on three sides and top stitched.

Pocket Binding
Step 17: Pocket Binding
The big pocket needed a finished edge on the open side, so I put some seam binding on it, same as the apron edge. But, this time, I just ran a zigzag stitch on the front.

Sewing Pocket
Step 18: Sewing Pocket
Pin pockets in place and then sew, hand turning the seam, and top stitching about 1/8 inch from edge. At the top of the pocket, where the binding is, I did a bunch of reinforcing stitches so it wouldn't tear out.

Apron Ties
Step 19: Sewing Ties
To make the apron ties, cut two equal lengths of seam binding. I guessed on length and they turned out a little long. Just make sure they're not too short. I attached the straps directly to the binding on the back side. It seemed like the strongest place and I didn't mind that it would show on the front because it's an area that is mostly hidden. Reinforce with many back and forth zigzag stitches.

Tie Front
Step 20: Tie Front Attachment
This is the front of the tie attachment.

Tie End
Step 21: Tie End Finish
I zigzag stitched the end of the ties to keep them from unraveling. It's not the prettiest solution, but for a utility garment I thought it was fine.

Button Detail
Step 22: Button Detail
I attached a button to the front of the apron to cover the stitches from the neck strap.

Finished Apron
Step 23: Ta Da!
You are finished.

Blue Apron


Variations on a theme:

Because of the kind of V-neck sweater I had on hand, my next apron became a halter style one. The front pocket was large, so I divided it into one medium-sized pocket and smaller ones for putting kitchen tools.

Sweater Apron (orange)Sweater Aprons

Buon Appetito! And, don't forget the link-o.

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