Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MODKID Knit Bubble Dress Pattern Tips

Have I talked about the Sewing MODKID Style knits book, yet? If you have sewn Patty Young's MODKID patterns, you know how clear and colorful her instructions and pictures are. This is my go-to book for anything knit that I make for Evangeline.  It has so many great patterns for basics like tees and leggings, fun dresses, a bathing suit and yoga pants. The book is a comprehensive guide on how to sew with knits with or without a serger and coverstitch machine.  All the fun stretch trims and laces and how to use them are covered. Sizing goes from 2T-10. I definitely recommend that you check it out!

I made Evangeline the short sleeved version Bubble Dress in a single fabric, rather than two.  It gave for more of an everyday look.  The purple and blue striped fabric jumped out at me when I was at the Pacific Fabric outlet store. It has a sparkle stripe which is my favorite and makes the fabric pop. Truthfully, I would make something for myself if I though I could pull it off.

I'm a novice when it comes to sewing knits.  Knits have always seemed really intimidating so after reading the how-to section of the book carefully I sat down with my serger and sewing machine. After serging the shoulder seams it was time to tackle the neckline. I don't own a coverstitch machine that will finish the neckline in one step.  First, I serged the neckline. Then, I grabbed my sewing machine manual which is always helpful when tackling a new project. Flipping to stretch knit stitches, I picked the one that was described as being the most stretchy and looked OK.  Boy, was I wrong. Yuck!

It was wobbly  and puckered and just wouldn't do.  So I (not so) patiently picked out that mess of a neckline and went back to the drawing board. 

 Still beginning with the serged edge I carefully pinned the neckline over 1/2".  Pinning and sewing slowly were really key to even seams in this dress. This time I used a stretch stitch (called a "stretch triple straight stitch" on my Pfaff) that looks like a regular stitch but goes back and forth when sewing and a twin needle. The needle was on the narrower side  The result, while not perfect, is flatter and more closely replicates a coverstitch hem.

Another really important thing is not to stretch when sewing the hems and necklines. Stretching the fabric will make your neckline stretch out and look terrible like my above example. Use your hands lightly to guide the fabric and let your machine do all the work.  

I'm pretty happy with the end results and grabbed some great pictures of Ev wearing the dress!

I am part of the Amazon associates program.  If you decide to purchase something on Amazon through my link I receive a small portion of the sale to help support my blog.  These are my opinions and I only recommend products I already own and love!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This is just a quick post to say Happy Thanksgiving and Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias.  I am so thankful to have all of you that read this blog and support my sewing endeavors! Gracias!

Gobble Gobble

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What I am skipping for the holidays this year

When Sharon from Momof6.com listed the blog topic for today in the "Getting Ready For the Holidays" blog party, I immediately knew what I wanted to talk about. 

Last week in my Favorite Family Traditions post I mentioned that I have a strict Holiday budget that I plan on sticking to and that my extended family will be getting homemade gifts this year. My other motive is to change the way the kids view Christmas.  My favorite part of the Holidays has always been watching others open gifts that I've chosen for them.  I try hard to be a thoughtful gift giver and I'd like my children to learn to get joy from planning gifts that are tailored to each person.

In that vein, these are the things I'll be skipping this year:

Buying Gifts for Family

The older kids will be the ones receiving purchased gifts that include books and toys.  I like to think of it as money well spent because getting "home-made" things can be disappointing to older grade-schoolers and tweens who are really just hoping for a new wrestling action figure. I always hope that the kids won't have to practice "being appreciative" of a gift I give them on Christmas.
On the other hand, my niece and my daughter (who are both 4) still love presents that I make. They can expect fancy Christmas dresses, doll clothes and maybe quilts, which I know they'll love. Here they are last year in their "princess" dresses.

Last week, I made a list of things I want to make for each person on my list.  The list is long because I have 5 siblings and my husband has 3.  We also have parents and a few nieces and nephews.

The rest of my family and friends will be getting home-made gifts.  I'm planning some food gifts, ornaments, and other projects that I have working on throughout the year.  This is where I'll be enlisting the help of the kiddos.  They can help craft some of the items that we'll be giving and we can take that time to talk about each person in the family. I'll walk them through identifying the family members' likes and dislikes and things the person can't eat or wear (we have various allergies in the family). Hopefully this will help them be thoughtful gift givers.

Buying Ornaments

Every year Santa Claus brings new ornaments to each of my children, my husband and me in our stockings. This year they will be handmade by elves. I've been compiling a list on Pinterest of Christmas things, including ornaments.

Elf on the Shelf

Lastly,  Elf on a Shelf.  It seems like such a fun idea to countdown to Christmas.  I've looked at all the silly things people do and really am envious.  Unfortunately, Evangeline gets spooked easily and I'm afraid she might be scared of a little Elf friend that moves around when everyone else is sleeping.  She's afraid of Swiper the Fox from Dora because he "swipes" things.  Sometimes she still won't go to the bathroom or walk down the hallway by herself because she is thinking about Swiper.  This is after we banished the show from the house almost a year ago.  So, Elf on the Shelf is an idea that I am going to shelve (hehe) until she is older and reality and fantasy are a little further apart.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crafting with Big Kids (Share Your Life)

Sometimes I feel like my 8 year old grows-up every day.  Ari seems a little older and a little farther away from me every day he is at school.  With the rush of homework, school activities and playdates; opportunities for connection have become a challenge.

Ari is an avid and voracious reader.  He spends most of his free time buried in a book. I try to read what he reads to give us a basis for meaningful conversation.  Our reads include Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson, and other fantasy books.  Recently, he started on the Warrior series.  Have you heard of this?  The books basically center around an entire society of cats.  Although he enjoys all the cat drama, I'm having trouble getting motivated to read along with him.

He and I like to do crafts together  but it has to be something he is interested in.  While painting with fingers and felt boards are some of the things his sister enjoys, I'm going to try to come up with more challenging and interesting things for a 3rd grader to do.

So I'd like to introduce a regular feature on Fridays on my blog: Crafting With Big Kids.

First, My disclaimer: My son is 8 and the crafts I will be presenting are intended for older grade schoolers.  It's possible that these things can be adapted for the Preschool set with parent help, but are not recommended for little ones.  My intention is to use scissors, needles, glue guns, irons, paint and some cooking which will require adult supervision even for the big kids! Please do these crafts with your kiddos.

Please check back tomorrow for our fun craft! I love suggestions, so please leave a comment or send an email to chickadeejess@hotmail.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Make a bow-tie! {TUTORIAL}

Recently, I tested a fun pattern for Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop.  I made a fantastic "Little Gentleman" suit for Ari complete with a vest, pants and corduroy jacket.  I almost never sew for Ari because he is really a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy.  He feels so special in it!  I think I'll be sewing for him more. 

My sister made Ari a bow-tie last year and it looks so cute with his suit!

Here is my tutorial for you to make a swingin' bow-tie of your very own. 

These are also fantastic as gifts for any man (or little man) in your life. Perfect for any occasion, this bow-tie takes very little fabric, so save your scraps!

Start with a rectangle of fabric 6" x 9". Then cut another smaller rectangle of the same fabric 1 1/4" x 2 1/5".

Fold the edges of each piece of fabric so they meet in the middle like the picture. Do a quick press with your iron.

On the short right side of each rectangle fold the fabric over 1/4 inch. This will cover up any raw edges when you are finished. Press again. Put aside the smaller piece of fabric.

Fold the left side into the middle. 

Fold the right side with the creased edge into the middle until it covers the raw edge.

Now it's time to shape a bow-tie! 
Fold your rectangle in half length-wise with the creased side up. Do a couple of hand stitches here about 1/3 of the way up from the fold (like in the picture). It doesn't have to be very perfect because they will be hidden. Keep your needle threaded and re-knot.

Pinch in the center, right where your stitches are. Fold up the first long edge to meet in the middle, then fold the second long edge into the middle.

Secure with a few more hand stitches, looping over about 4 times. You are working through quite a few layers here so you will have to work the needle through.

Wrap the small strip of fabric around the bow-tie with the creased edge over-lapping the raw edge. Have the edges meet at the back, and make a few stitches to close it up, being careful not to stitch into the main part of the bow-tie.

Now you have a few options for wearing the bow tie. If you aren't able to measure the neck that will be wearing the bow tie here are some average sizes.  Its definitely better to make it too big than to small!

Thanks to the GPuniforms page for average neck sizes.

Men's Average Neck Sizes:
  • Men Extra Small 13.5" 
  • Small 14.5"
  • Medium 15.5"
  • Large 16.5"
  • Extra Large 17.5"
  • 2XL 18.5"
  • 3XL 19.5"
  • 4XL 20.5"
  • 5XL 21.5
Boys average neck sizes:
  • Boys Extra Small 10"-10 1/2" 
  • Boys Small 11"-11 1/2" 
  • Boys Medium 12"-12 1/2" 
  • Boys Large 13"-13 1/2" 

An easy solution is 1/4" wide elastic.

Use the measurements above or measure the person's neck who will be wearing the bow-tie. Make sure you measure over a button up shirt under the collar.

Cut a piece of elastic 1" longer than the measurement of the neck. 

Put the elastic through the loop on the bow-tie and overlap 1/4". Sew the elastic together and slide the stitches under the loop.

Now you have a great bow-tie!

For a more finished look on the neck portion you will need another rectangle of fabric Length of neck + 2" x 2". Make a tube by putting the fabric right sides together and sewing one short edge and the long edge with a 1/4" narrow seam. Turn right side out. Fold the raw edges toward the inside and press the whole thing.

 Tuck the raw ends inside 1/4".

Sew 3/4" square of the scratchy side of velcro to one end. On the other end, on the reverse side attach a 2" piece of the softer side of the velcro. This will give the wearer some room for adjustment.

Thread through the backside of your bow-tie and try it on!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Favorite Hoilday Season Family Traditions

Sharon from Mom of 6 has planned some great Holiday link-ups! These will be especially useful this year because I plan to home-make my gifts.  Not only are we on a strict budget (that I plan on sticking to) but I really want to spend some time on a meaningful gift for my family members without feeling a little sick when I get the credit card bills. 

But For Today....Favorite Family Traditions

In November, its all about Turkey Day.  My husband and son go to play soccer in the morning. This is the only day of the year he and his friends will be guaranteed all have off together and it's a perfect time to catch up and score a few goals. Evangeline and I watch the parade on TV and wait for her favorite floats and balloons.  This year we are heading to my uncle's house just across town.  This will be a great time with food, drinks and family.

Come December, Advent Calendars! I have a whole Pintrest Board devoted to it! Check it out!

The kids and I really love advent calendars.  There is just something special about opening a suprise everyday.  The Nutcracker advent calendar I bought last year from Amazon is so awesome. It has a new mini-board book for each day that you can hang on the Christmas tree as an ornament.  All of the books together tell the Nutcracker story.

I used to buy the chocolate ones because they are easy and cheap (and have chocolate) but this year I want to make advent calendars for each kid in which I can put little notes, gifts or candies. I haven't decided what I want them to look like yet, but I'm leaning towards the matchbox Christmas tree or other Christmas-sy shape.

Onward into December, we will be driving through different neighborhoods looking at festive Christmas lights and displays while blasting Xmas songs and singing at the top of our lungs.

Drinking "snowman soup" is another fun thing we started doing last year.  This came from our favorite Ms. Sheila at preschool. The ingredients are: a couple chocolates kisses, a mini candy cane, some mini-marshmallows and a packet of cocoa. Have the kids add all of this to a mug and add some hot water.  They love mixing it all together with the candy-cane!

We will watch endless Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music.  Our favorite movie is Elf but Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas is a close second (to me anyways).  My favorite Christmas music is the crooner stuff.  I have a soft spot for Dean Martin and Andy Williams. 

We'll spend Christmas eve with my husband's family eating tamales and maybe pozole. Christmas morning we spend in our own home and then get gussied up and head to my mom and dad's for gift exchanging and food.  My dad always comes up with something new and interesting to cook; last year it was duck (new to many of my family).  

We don't really have a New Years tradition because my husband is a chef and usually works but I may let the kids stay up this year and make a little party out of  it! Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

Easily Add Belt Loops to Pants {TUTORIAL}

Have you ever wanted to attach belt loops to pants that have none?  Nope, me neither.  I'm just not a belt kind of person.  However, my husband is.  He likes to wear a belt everyday.  He is a Sous Chef and his favorite type of pants to wear to work are "Chef-type" pants.  They are a little baggy and have lots of pockets with a elasticated drawstring waist.  Unfortunately they don't come with belt loops, so that's where I come in.  Chickadee to the rescue!

Add Belt Loops to Pants--TUTORIAL

For this tutorial I am using pre-made single fold bias tape which can be found at any fabric store.  Specifically, I used Wrights 117-200-031 Single Fold Bias Tape, Black, 4-Yard which is 1/2" wide and is 50% poly/50%cotton.

You could also make your own.  Here is a link to a great method at coletterie.com.  You will need a bias tape maker, but trust me these save so much time and give such nice results   I got mine from Amazon, but you could probably pick one up a well stocked fabric store.

So here is a picture of my SINGLE-Fold bias tape.  It also comes as double fold, but that is not what you want.  The single-fold will have one flat side and one side with the fabric edges coming together in the middle.

The first thing to do is to mark where you want the belt loops.  Pictured here is the front of the pants.  The front two belt loops will be placed in a little closer together.  Measure to make sure they will be the same distance on each side from the center of the pants. Put a pin (or use a fabric marker/ chalk pencil) to mark your belt loop placement.

I put two in the front, Two on the side seams and one at the back seam.  From there you can measure the distance from the back seam to the side seam and place a pin in the middle for a total of seven loops.  You can add more or less depending on your preference.

Measure the width of the belt you would like to wear with the pants.My husband's belt is a little less than 2" wide so my belt loops will be perfect at 2" long.  You will also need to add 1/2" so you can fold each raw edge over.

At 2.5" x 7 belt loops I will need a strip 17.5" long.  Add 1.5" in length to account for imperfect cutting, etc. for a total of 19".

Sew a narrow edge seam on each edge of the bias tape.  This will stop the bis tape from stretching out and adds a finished look.

Cut your strip into seven 2.5" pieces (or whatever your measurement is x number of desired belt loops). I found using a clear ruler and rotary cutter was easiest but you can use scissors.

Press each end over 1/4" to the side with the line running down the middle.  I recommend you do this with your fingers (finger pressing) by just pressing firmly and/or using your fingernail to get a crease.  Using an iron for this project will probably get you burned because these are such small pieces.

Pin the Belt loops to your pants in the places you marked previously, creased side down.  Sew back and forth 3 times at the top close to the edge of the loop.  I know, this seems like a lot, but your belt loops get tugged and pulled and the stitching needs to be secure. Trim your threads close and repeat on the bottom part of the loop.  Do the same for the remaining loops.

Now you have belt loops where no belt loops have gone before.