Monday, January 31, 2011

skull & crossbones sweatshirt

A perfect shirt for snowy weather.  I refashioned this size-4-for-little-boys sweatshirt from these two shirts: a sweatshirt that previously belonged to my sister (that I don't think she ever wore) and one of my favorite t-shirts that Logan outgrew a couple of years ago.

I cut around the skull and around the crossbones separately and fused the pieces to the back of the shirt using double-sided fusible web.  I love that stuff!  It holds the applique in place so I never need to use pins.  The only thing I might have done differently here would have been to put the applique on the front of the sweatshirt.  Logan always asks if he can wear the shirt backwards so he can see the skull.

I also gave the front a little flavor with this "skulls" applique . . .

I fully intended to make this a hooded sweatshirt.  But I ran out of sweatshirt.  I could have pieced something together, but I just didn't want to spend the extra time.  I used the ribbing from the original sweatshirt to finish the neck, the arms, and the waist.

And I even added the classic "sweatshirt V" at the front of the neck.  I really don't know what this design element is all about.

The pattern for this sweatshirt was adapted from a pattern from the book Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollehn.  This book has some unique designs and offers neat ideas for combining multiple prints and even types of fabric.  There are lots of cute things for little girls, but there is really only one pattern for boys: the hooded sweatshirt.  I'm really happy with the amount of ease built into this pattern.  It's a little big, just like a sweatshirt should be and it could be worn for a few years.

Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon: Book Cover

 I just love making new things from old clothes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

t-shirt quilt top {complete}

I finished the t-shirt quilt top for the hub just like I committed to on Amy's blog.  I just didn't get to the next part . . . quilting it before his birthday.  It's basted and ready to be quilted someday soon.

These t-shirt quilts are great for at least two things: preserving memories and making a quilt top without buying all that fabric.  And for me they provide a bonus by offering lots of scraps to use to make smaller t-shirts for little boys (or girls, but I don't have any of those).

For anyone interested or who may be interested in the future, here is how I put the top together:

(A word of caution for beginners: this is absolutely a project you can do, but just be aware that knits--the t-shirt fabric--slip around a little more than wovens.  So if you have trouble with the knit, do let it turn you off to quilting.  Wovens are usually easier to work with in a quilt.)

I had 20 t-shirts that I cut up but I only ended up using 18 of them for this project.  And I only used the front of each.  This is a pretty big quilt, so you could probably get a way with fewer, especially if you used the entire front of the t-shirt and the back (even if it's just a solid color, it can still work well in the quilt).

Cut cup the sides of the first shirt.  Cut around the sleeve and the neck band, so you have a front and back panel from each shirt.  Repeat for all shirts.

Cut out the t-shirt designs as you please.  Many of the t-shirt quilts I've seen use the same measurements for each quilt block.  I tried to cut all sides at any of 6.5, 12.5, and 18.5 inches.  Sometimes the shirt or design size didn't lend itself to any of these measurements, so I had to be flexible here.

For this one, I used my 12.5 inch square acrylic ruler to cut around three sides (both sides and top) and then slid the ruler down to add some length and cut around both sides and the bottom.  So this block measures 12.5 by 18.5 inches.

At times, I used two acrylic rulers side by side (a 12.5 inch square and a 6 by 24 inch) to extend the length more easily and to ensure I could center the design on the square.  I also had to slide the 12.5 inch square ruler down to get the entire design on this square.  This block measures 18.5 by 18.5 inches.

Don't forget to look at the tags and on the back or bottom of the shirt for treasures like these!  These can be incorporated into the quilt any way you like.  The grey patch still attached to the shirt scrap will be appliqued on the front and the other two tags will be sewn into the binding.

Once all the blocks are cut, sort them by relative size.

Now comes the intellectual part.  You just have to start laying them out and moving them around until you get a square or rectangular-shaped top.  I had to move mine around about six times before I settled on a design.  I tried to keep them in straight rows because I knew that would be easier than a random pattern, especially since I decided to add sashing between each block.

The rows weren't perfectly even, so I had to trim some blocks a little to match the length of the shortest block in that row.  With a few smaller blocks, I decided to add extra sashing to make the block long enough to match the other blocks in the row.  But one of the good things about working with knits is that they stretch.  So if the difference in block measurements was within 1/4 inch, I left the blocks alone.

You can see in the photo below how the bottom right square is about 5 inches longer than the rest of the row.  I liked the look of the three blocks in a column, so I had to live with trimming this one down.  I just had to make sure that the design still fit on the block and I decided to wait until after it was quilted to trim it so I wouldn't risk trimming off too much.

You could just sew each block in the row to the next block (right sides together) for each row and then sew the rows together.  I decided to add woven sashing to help highlight each block and give the quilt top more stability.  I used a solid black Kona cotton for my sashing.  Adding sashing requires a bit of basic math.

Pick one of your rows, the one that looks the longest.  Add together the width of each block in that row.

For instance, my longest row had three 18.5 inch blocks and one 12.5 inch block.  Summing these widths together equals 68 inches without sashing.  I wanted to add 2 inch sashing between each set of blocks, so I had to cut 2.5 inch blocks for a 1/4 inch seam allowance on both sides.  Add 3 x 2.5 to the 68 inch block total gave me 75.5 inches total for the longest row (this is the measurement before sewing so it won't be quite this long).

I then had to make each row equal 75.5 inches.  So if my next row of blocks totaled 60 inches, I would need 10.5 inches of sashing.  Split between three sections of sashing, each block of sashing would be 3.5 inches wide (10.5 / 3).  

If you have 5 blocks in a row instead of 4 like all of mine, you can do the same calculations, but add 1 inch to the total needed for sashing.  This is due to the extra inch lost in seam allowances for additional blocks.  So if the total needed for sashing is 11 inches, add 1 inch to make 12 inches.  Then divide this total by 4 sections of sashing to get 3-inch wide sashing for each section.

The length of each section of sashing should be equal to the length from top to bottom of the blocks it will be sewn to.

Sew all of these together, press each seam, and sew a long piece of sashing between each of the rows.

Add you're done.

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 17, 2011

my challenge this week

Amy from Amy's Creative Side is holding her monthly challenge this week.  The idea is to commit to something this week, document the commitment to make it official, and then just do it.  Then we get to link up on her blog and see what everyone else was able to complete in a week.

I spent a few hours this past weekend cutting up the hub's old t-shirts to make him a t-shirt quilt for his birthday next week.  So my challenge to myself this week is to complete the quilt top.  I will have to quilt it this weekend, so the first part of my goal is to finish the quilt top before Saturday (hopefully that doesn't mean a Friday all-nighter).

This is a fun way to set a goal.  We girls always work better in groups.  So even if you're not particularly crafty and are part of my family and are reading this post out of obligation, I challenge you, too, to commit to something this week and do it.  Come on.  It'll be fun!

Amy's Creative Side

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

my pattern worked! {in the end}

My pattern (ultimately) worked!  The goal was to make a long sleeve t-shirt pattern to fit my 2-year-old (in this cute little kid print knit). I haven't been able to find a slimmer fitting pattern that small, so I decided to make my own pattern. This would allow me the flexibility to easily alter the pattern and make it as slim, long, short or otherwise that met my fancy.

This pattern was almost perfect . . . for my 4-year-old. I'm not sure how but the pattern helped me make a simple t-shirt large enough to fit Logan. So it wasn't a total waste. And he was ridiculously happy to have it.

The only modifications that I have to make are to add a little length to the bottom of the shirt pattern and maybe drop the neckline just slightly. I added this extra trim layer at the bottom that I cut from an existing t-shirt to give the shirt a little more length (and extra character).

And if this was a confessional, I would tell you about how I totally screwed up the ribbing at the neck by cutting it the same length as the perimeter of the neckline. So it sagged terribly. After researching the proper way to attach ribbing, I recut the ribbing at 75% of the total length of the perimeter of the neck. Much better! And you can't even tell that I had to rip and redo! So I'm not confessing anything.

A successful project for sure! I traced the pattern and adjusted it a little to better fit my 2-year-old. So I will have to test it out again once I find some cute (boyish) knit prints.
And I have a pants pattern to go with it (a pajama set) that I'm dying to try.  Maybe this weekend.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

patternmaking . . .

I just love patterns!  I have accumulated quite a few and I estimate that I have actually used about 1% of them.  I guess it's for lack of time.  Most of the patterns I have are for making clothes for me and with all the other sewing that goes on in this house, there's just not much time left over for me.  Alas, the life of a mom.

I am working on a shirt patterns for the boys.  I have a pants pattern for my 4-year-old that has been used more than any other pattern, but it's a little big and I can never get the adjustments quite right (because I don't record them, I sure).  So I've decided to make my own patterns that fit them exactly right . . . until the next growth spurt, I guess.

So that's what I'm up to right now . . . and it's really fun!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

and Lucy's present . . . a new bed pillow

This is Lucy's Christmas present.  A little late.  She needed a new pillow for her bed because the other pillow was scratched and worn.  I was hoping that the original bed pillow was an actual pillow with a cover so I could just make a new cover, but it wasn't.  It was a cover filled with fiber-fill.

So I scrapped that idea and made an actual pillow to allow me to just make a new case next time.  I used some extra sheeting (I used polyester/cotton blend white sheets that I picked up from Ikea...these are not very pretty and they feel rough to the touch but a twin set costs $5 and I use them as lining for my pillow covers).  I lined the pillow cover with batting and quilted the layers a little to ensure the batting does not shift.

My favorite part of this entire pillow is how I stuffed it.  I didn't have any foam and I didn't want to use fiber-fill.  So I dumped my entire tin full of waste fabric into the pillow instead!  I read a tip once to save those non-usuable selvedges and tiny thin scrap pieces as filling for boxes when shipping fragile goods.  So I have been saving for over a year . . . but I don't ship fragile goods.  So I decided to fill this pillow with them.  It's a little rougher and bumpier than I would like my pillows to be, but for a dog it works great.  Lucy's first choice for a place to sleep is bundled clothing, so this is like the next best thing.  And I got to use my entire tin!

I bought this dog print fleece as a remnant and, of course, it wasn't wide enough.  So I added these grey fleece stripes which ended up being more trouble and not really worth it.  Next time, I will just cut the fabric in half and let there be a seam down the middle.  This bed sits under an end table with at least 7 blankets, so I doubt anyone but me will notice the new cover.

My mom made Lucy this blanket when she was about one year old.  So we've had it for almost 8 years now. .See how it puts her right to sleep?  We both love it.  The flannel on the back is starting to wear but it shows how much Lucy uses it.  I will keep this blanket forever.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

bird patch quilt

I made this quilt for my mom for Christmas.  I feel really bad because this is the first quilt that I made her and I don't think it's anything special.  Although she would say that anything handmade by me is special, I just can't get myself to think this one is great.

I struggled with the design.  I made nine-patch squares and cut them apart for a crazy nine-patch look.  But I'm not sure the pattern is necessarily the problem.  I'm not sure these prints work together.  I like most of them separately but not together.

Sometimes, this is just the way things work out.

But I really, really like the purple color that I choose for the filler.  I originally purchased a cream color to go with the green but went back for something else.  I'm much happier with this color because it adds more interesting color.

And I like the embroidered owl and bird, but now that it's done I wish I would have added a few more birds side by side.  One looks a little lonely.  I used my new Cricut to cut a paper template for these (cutting the fabric directly didn't work for me).

For the back, I used this cupcake, cherry, apple print which is really cute but doesn't belong in this quilt.

I like really do like the green tiny polka-dot print for the binding but, again, not on this quilt.  I like the binding to stand out, but this one just blends in, except for that strip of light green binding that I added for extra character.

So for this quilt I tried blending a few separate, bold prints together and it didn't really work.  But I did design it myself and it's not a complete distaster.  It's still usable as a warm blanket, and it does give the eye something interesting to look at.

And it keeps the legs warm while playing the ukelele.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

my 2011 crafty resolutions

1. Spend less time thinking.  Spend more time doing. 

We all love to buy fabric, but I've found that I spend more time trying to find the perfect project for my fabric that I often get nothing done.  I need push aside the urge to find "the" project and just start making something.  I'm not even sure the perfect project actually exists for any fabric.

This goes for my stash of old clothes, too.  I keep some of them to make clothes for the kids, but they sit and sit while I think of the perfect project.  I need to just cut into them and see where it goes.

I spent a lot of 2010 searching for the perfect size pattern for each of the boys.  I would know the fit that I was looking for, but couldn't find the right pattern.  Instead of just cutting up the fabric and adjusting as necessary even if it meant scrapping that one and trying again, I would just do nothing.

So I'm keeping it simple this year with just one goal: stop thinking and just begin.