Category Archives: Sewing
I didn’t know if my kooky idea for this quilt would work at all, because in order to do it, I had to try some unconventional techniques and break a few sewing rules. First, I hand sewed a stack of irregular shapes at the bedside in a crazy quilting style because, first, I love that style, and secondly, it does not demand precision that I cannot maintain while sewing in the ICU with June, stopping and starting often and without using a table. Later I overlaid the irregular shapes with a fabric square with a heart cut out of the center to reveal the crazy quilted section below. Each crazy quilted section is built around a green frog fabric piece, because June loves Hopkins the frog from Signing Time. (And because I acquired lots of great frog fabric.) The hearts-and-crazy-quilting squares were sewed into 2×2 squares, and alternated with 2×2 squares of pink and the same frog-patterned fabric that the crazy quilted sections are built around. Then, much to my discomfort, June decided she wanted the quilt to be bound in dark blue, which is not located anywhere else in the quilt, but, hey, it adds an interesting contrast.
What worked: June loves the quilt. Also, using the negative space of the heart-shaped squares turned out just how I hoped.
What didn’t work: I mixed all types of fabric for the quilt including flannel, fleece and quilting cotton because I was working exclusively from my stash. This is dangerous because different fabrics react different to wear, tear and washing which can damage the quilt. But I wanted to try it anyway to test the limits of what I can mix and match from my large and varied collection of fabric of indeterminate type. The quilt held up surprisingly well after washing, although one crazy-quilted section did rip and needs repaired.
There has been a flurry of activity here in the Safari Household recently as we transition from our dino-mite summer back into our typical routine. Several posts are vying for very scarce editorial attention, and which one will triumph first is anyone’s guess. So in the meantime, I thought I’d share the topics of these posts which I hope to cover soon:
- Leaving Facebook- I left FB “for real,” as in deleted my personal account. I deactivated the FB page for this blog in the process, but you can still follow Yes This I Know on Twitter, Pinterest, RSS and by email.
- Continuation of the Nursing Saga- I reached my limit with dreading the nursing visits, and we “let one of our nurses go.” ***Joyously singing the Frozen song now*** Meaning I now only deal with one nurse visit per week.
- Crazy Heart Block Quilt– I am both thrilled and surprised that I finished this recently, just over a year after starting it while June was in the PICU recovering from her LTR (The project does not require anywhere near a year to complete; I say I’m surprised because I usually have to caplitalize on momentum to finish a big sewing project, and there’s just no momentum to be had on personal projects while parenting 3 kids under 5.)
- Special Needs Family Outings series- several posts about our travels and special needs travel decisions in general
- Reading- I’ve been in reading hyperdrive this year as a lot of varied topics have been important or intriguing to me, and unexpected connections seem to arise often between subjects or to ideas I’m mulling over at the time
- Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017- homeschool planning posts are always exciting!
….and a couple of stragglers that might escape the drafts box onto the blog eventually. Maybe even a Quotes of the Day.
Originally I planned to share a tutorial on how I added waist and hip room to a pair of maternity pants by adding tapered upper side panels. I soon discovered, however, that the pants were too worn out to carry on with, even though they fit beautifully now. See….I know what I like, it doesn’t change in time with the store window displays, and I despise shopping. If it were up to me, my current wardrobe would serve my needs forever. This can sometimes blind me to the fact that a garment is beyond saving. So rather than sharing my own tutorial, I’ve linked some awesome posts by other bloggers here on altering pants. But take a lesson from me and assess the overall condition of your item thoroughly before deciding on altering. 🙂
Altering Pants to Expand Waist/Hips or Convert to Maternity
Adding a Pregnancy Panel Two Ways from me at Yes This I Know, which includes the wonderful post below from Shwin and Shwin
DIY Maternity Pants by Shwin and Shwin: Remove a non-stretch waistband and add a stretch maternity panel
Remove a Dart in Shorts or Pants from Refashion Co-op: This is a sneaky way to get some extra width in the waist of pants, if a dart is present.
Take Out (Expand) Your Jean’s Waistband Tutorial from Cotton and Curls: This is a fast way to add width to a waistband. You’ll need to keep the work covered by your shirt, unless you are using the added fabric as an fashion accent to show off your alteration.
DIY Materity Pants from Your Favorite Jeans by Say Yes: Similar to the tutorial from Cotton and Curls above, this alteration adds width but also stretch to pants by using elastic for the panel inserts.
Adding Width to a Waistband from Mad Mim: This is a more labor intensive way to add width to a waistband, and you won’t need to hide the band with your shirt if you’re able to reattach the label over your work as suggested.
Just a quick update to celebrate the completion of the Dinosaur and Pteranodon Quilt for Rowan! Like many things- laundry, cooking, sleeping in a real bed, and finishing the multiple blog posts that I have alluded to recently- finishing the quilt has been on hold since I’m staying at the hospital with June. I finished all of the hand quilting around the applique dinosaurs (and pteranodons) while at the hospital, but I wanted to machine bind it for better durability. My son has been asking to sleep with this quilt for weeks, so it was on the top of my at-home to-do list this weekend while Greg is manning my post at June’s bedside.
Of course, I couldn’t find my good camera to take a better photo, so this will have to do. Also featured is part of an actual dinosaur model that Rowan made from play bricks. I thought it would be too ironic if, for the sake of photographing my gift to Rowan, I were to dismantle the masterpiece made by the intended recipient of said gift. Thus, the blurry iPhone photo of the long-awaited dinosaur quilt, photo bombed by a toy dinosaur:
Next up in the maternity sewing series is two ways to add a full pregnancy panel to a below-the-belly pair of maternity pants. The first way is for drawstring or elastic-waist pants, and the second is for less flexible waistbands.
Pregnant women are pretty sharply divided between those who prefer the below-the-belly waist bands and those who prefer a pregnancy panel. I am 100% in favor of the panel because it provides better coverage- I won’t accidentally flash my belly if my shirt shifts, hangs, or flutters- and because it distributes the elastic pressure used to hold the pants over my entire belly instead of only on my lower intestines. Apparently, I’m really prone to the myriad of reasons for GI upset during pregnancy, and I also have bouts of sciatica and round ligament pain which affect my midsection. It is not an exaggeration to say that when I put on a pair of intestine-squeezing, below-the-belly pants, it initiates a countdown to debilitating abdominal pain. So, when I find a pant style that is only available in below-the-belly, I use one of these techniques to convert it to a mercifully more comfortable full-panel version.
Converting drawstring or elastic-waist pants to a full panel
I forgot to take a before photo, but this method preserves the existing waist band, so you can see it in the photos below. I had two pairs of these Old Navy maternity capris with an elastic waist band as well as a draw string. This is a simple conversion that requires only a few cuts and a straight line of sewing.
1. Locate where the elastic is sewn down within the waist band casing. You’ll probably see a vertical line of stitching somewhere on the casing marking this spot, and it’s likely at the back of the pants near the tag. Cut through the inside wall of the casing at this point.
2. Cut the elastic to the left or to the right of the vertical stitching. Don’t cut on both the left and right because the elastic will retract into the casing where it’s cut. Also take care not to cut the drawstrings if you have them.
3. Starting on the side you did not cut, begin to pull the elastic through the opening in the casing to remove it. If the elastic won’t pull through, it is likely sewn down at another spot, so cut through the casing at that spot to either remove the stitching or cut the elastic free on either side of it, if you don’t mind leaving a little elastic remnant inside. Once the elastic band is out of the casing, cut it free on the other side of the vertical stitching and discard, again without cutting the drawstrings. You’re left with a little patch of elastic attached to the drawstrings.
4. Dealing with the drawstrings: if you don’t want the drawstrings, remove the elastic patch and the attached drawstrings at this point. If you want to retain them, refashion the draw strings such that they are pulling on either side of the elastic so you have more give in the band. I had actually already completed this step when I took the photo above. I cut the drawstring free on either side of the vertical stitching and reattached each side of the drawstring to the corresponding half of the elastic. This way there is a tiny amount of give when the drawstrings are in use.
5. Prepare your elastic panel. You can use a pre-made maternity panel, upcycle fabric from an old garment, or use any kind of stretchy fabric you want. Like my last project, I used the hemmed bottom of an old cami that no longer fit right but was still stretchy.
6. Pin the panel. Because you’re preserving the existing waist band and it’s not meant to be seen anyway, there’s no need to make a traditional right-side-to-right-side seam which would hide your line of stitching BUT add uncomfortable bulk inside the band. Instead, with both the pants and the panel right side out, arrange the bottom edge of the panel inside the waist band of the pants- exactly how the finished pants will look- and pin inside the waist band, taking care to keep the drawstrings low in the casing below the pins.
6. Sew the panel to the pants. After pinning, fold the elastic panel down around the outside of the pants to reveal your pins inside the waist band. Using matching thread*, sew a straight line around the entire waist band where the panel and waist band overlap, being careful not to catch the rest of the elastic panel, the opposite side of the pants fabric, or the drawstrings inside or outside of the casing. Remember, you aren’t sewing a typical right-side-to-right-side seam- the raw edge of the panel will be visible below the line of stitching inside the waistband…but only to the wearer!
*TIP: You may want to use elastic thread if your waist band fits snugly, and if you can manage it. I haven’t gotten elastic thread to work on my machine, and I’d rather risk a break in the thread (which usually doesn’t affect the integrity of the garment and/or is an easy fix) than try to hand sew the elastic thread.
You are ALL done!! Put on your new comfy pants and relax.
Converting side-panel, semi-fixed, or fixed-waist pants to a full maternity panel
I defer to those who have come before me on this topic. I successfully converted this pair of side-panel maternity jeans to a full-panel using this helpful tutorial from bloggers Shwin and Shwin. This tutorial can actually be used to add a pregnancy panel to non-maternity pants as well as existing maternity pairs.
Here is how mine turned out. After the alteration, they became my favorite maternity jeans for all three of my pregnancies.
We’ll kick off the maternity sewing tutorials with how to make a faux cami, which can be used as an outfit accessory or to provide some necessary extra coverage. I find that I often want some extra coverage for the neckline of maternity shirts, but my existing tanks and camisoles either don’t fit during pregnancy or are too bulky and hot under my outfit. This is an easy and fast DIY solution. In fact, if you “upcycle” an existing garment that already has a hem, no sewing is needed. Here I use an old tank/cami that doesn’t fit as-is. You can make many versions in one sitting, varying the fabric type, colors, and embellishments like lace. I looked for tutorials online, but I couldn’t find one I really liked because I wanted secure attachments on the sides as well as the bottom. This is my solution, and it is working great for me!
Fabric (new fabric or from an existing garment)
Making the Faux Cami:
1. Decide how wide and long you’d like your cami to be by measuring the distance between your bra straps where the cami will be placed and the length from that horizontal line down to the bridge of the bra. Add about an inch to both of these measurements to make room for the snaps (less if your fabric is stretchy and you want to make sure it’s snug). If your fabric is not hemmed, add a hem allowance of your choosing to the length measurement.
2. Fold your fabric in half lengthwise (the hem or top edge of the fabric should be folded in half). Remember the finished edge will be at the top, so if you’re using the hem of an existing shirt or tank, the bottom edge of the shirt will be the top of the cami. Starting at the fold, measure half of your intended width and mark it on the hem. For instance, if you want your cami to be 9″ wide, measure and mark at 4.5.”
3. Starting at the hem or top, measure the full intended length of your cami down the fold and mark it on the fold.
4. Cut from the width mark straight down for about half of the cami, then taper inward sharply, then taper inward more slowly until you reach the length marker, and cut straight across to it. Your folded fabric will look similar to this (my fabric is misaligned to show mutliple layers- I actually cut two camis here since I was using an old tank top and I just cut through both sides at once)
And when you unfold the fabric, you’ll have a shape like this.
Variation and imperfection are completely okay because the edges of the cami will not be seen. You can cut it according to your preference or what fits best with your wardrobe. You want enough wide coverage on top so that the edges aren’t seen, but a narrow bottom half so there is no bulk where it attaches under or over the bra.
5. If your fabric isn’t hemmed, add the top hem now.
6. Fold one side over about an inch and make a hole for your snaps.
7. Place your snap pieces and attach with snap pliers, making sure that your fabric is wrong side up. You want the smooth caps of your snaps to be on the right side of the cami, and the stud and posts of your snaps to be on the inside. It doesn’t matter which is the stud or the post, but be sure you have one of each, because these will snap together to attach this side of the cami to the bra strap.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 on the other side of the cami.
9. Deciding where and how to add the snaps to the bottom is the tricky part, because it will depend on how large the bridge of your bra is and whether you plan to tuck the cami behind the bridge or in front of it. You can proceed with these steps and see if they work for you, or since your top snaps are in place, you can fit this to your bra and decide exactly where you want the bottom snaps to be, and in what orientation.
10. I decided to add my bottom snaps three inches apart, oriented as follows to tuck behind the bridge (note this photo shows my fabric wrong side up and the posts and studs of the top snaps are showing):
I placed the smooth cap of the higher bottom snap facing the wrong side of the fabric and the post facing the right side, since the smooth cap will be against my skin. The stud of the bottom snap is facing the wrong side so that……
11. Viola! As the bottom-most fabric folds up, around, and hides behind the bridge, the bottom-most snap will be oriented correctly to attach to the higher bottom snap. This photo shows the *RIGHT* side of the cami with top snaps fastened and with the sewing gauge representing the bra bridge.
If you’d like the cami to attach over the bridge instead of behind it, you can reverse the orientation of the bottom snaps. Keep in mind that the smooth cap of the snap will be visible on the “right” side of the cami in that design, but it should also be covered by your shirt.
The possibilities are endless for this project. Add lace to the top, try a knit, silk, satin, or lycra, or borrow fashionable necklines from any existing garment and make a less bulky, faux version to wear under other tops.
Those of us who sew, craft and create are forever working on our PhDs- Projects Half Done. Somehow I’ve found time to work on a few of mine, possibly due to my sporadic attempts at watching less TV and waking up an hour before the kids do. I’ll share a few sewing and crafting adventures here, including tutorials when I’ve struck out on my own with an idea. Most of my sewing and crafting is completed with the help of excellent online tutorials by others, though, in which case I’ll link to those resources instead. Here is a little of what’s going on here, and what may appear in upcoming posts:
Finishing the dinosaur (and pteranodon) quilt is a long-term project. I’ve sewn vertical and horizontal lines on either side of each seam between the quilt blocks, and now I’m hand quilting around each dinosaur appliqué so that a dino outline is stitched on the back.
I love it! But last time I hand-quilted, I was spending days and nights in the hospital on bed rest and later beside my daughter in the NICU/ICU, so my progress was very steady. This time, lugging out the quilt only during any “free time” in which I actually have some energy left is taking forever. Also, my hand quilting skills have not improved….they say a novice should be able to sew 5-6 stitches per inch, but my sewing looks like a kindergartner’s lacing project. It won’t win any awards but I’m happy with the look!
This project is noteworthy only because I finally squared up to my serger and tackled the basics of using and threading it. I cut up an old bath towel and made 10 washcloths with serged edges. I got tons of practice threading because I went through 6 standard spools of thread! Lesson learned: I need big serger thread spools because the upper and lower loopers are thread hogs…I should have guessed that just looking at the finished project though.
I *finally* attempted some maternity clothes alterations and succeeded on a few. I’ll share tutorials on how to make an easy faux cami, how to add a pregnancy panel to a low-cut elastic maternity band and how to add side panels to the waist and hips of a pair of pants. I’ll also link to resources on how to sew your own bra (crazy, I know!), how to replace the band of below-the-belly maternity pants with a pregnancy panel and how to make bra straps more versatile including band size extension, modesty lining, and creating a cross strap; plus I’ll link to the pattern for my favorite type of maternity shirt/swim cover.