Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Argyle tee

Here's another example of taking a plain t-shirt and adding some paint and some stitching to make it more fun. I started by sewing a t-shirt like this blue one using a light gray knit; this was my first shirt so I hadn't realized I needed to lengthen the pattern for my little guy's long torso. I love argyle of any kind so I decided to try some stenciling and some flossing like I have seen all over mommy blog-land recently. I got the idea for the flossing from Cheri over at I am momma, hear me roar

 Once I had the shirt made I decided to tape out an argyle pattern using my trusty blue painter's tape. I wasn't sure how I would make a freezer paper stencil for this pattern and it seemed like a lot of tedious work to cut out a bunch of tiny diamonds. In theory, the tape was a great alternative (you'll see in a minute why this idea might not have been my best). It was really easy to lay out the pattern and I could keep repositioning the tape until I liked the spacing and layout.

After taping off the argyle pattern it was time to paint. I used blue, orange, and lime green fabric paint (Tulip matte soft) so the finished product would be nice and bright. I just painted random diamonds. I didn't want to cover up all the spaces I had taped off and even though argyle is usually a repeated pattern I didn't want mine to be perfect; I like the random quality. I also doodled a little on the tape with a Sharpie to see how some stitching would look.

I decided that I needed to define each of my diamond shapes with some machine stitching so that the unpainted shapes would stand out as well. Here is where my brilliant plan to simplify the stenciling process by using the tape went awry. I decided to use the edges of each strip of tape as a guide while sewing on my outlines. By sewing over tape I ended up with tiny squares that had to be pulled off one at a time. Once again, my desire to finish a project got in the way of double-checking to make sure I wasn't making more work for myself. I'm sure you've heard the adage, "measure twice, cut once." Sadly, it is one I usually forget to remember. On the positive side, I really liked the way my lines came out; the tape did help me sew in nice straight lines.

Here's what it looked like after I'd finished picking off all my tiny squares of tape (some of them with tweezers). I watched a little TV to make the process a little less boring. I was pretty happy with my efforts thus far but I still felt like it needed something more. Enter the flossing.

I used white embroidery thread/floss to add the hand stitching in the middle of each empty line. I think it made the whole argyle pattern look more authentic. I'm so happy to have finally finished another cute shirt for my little guy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Better Birdie Bodysuit

My little guy lives in short-sleeved bodysuits now that it's summer. We have lots of them in cute colors but they're all plain. I have a hard time finding patterns or designs that I like. I don't want to cover my baby in brand logos or characters from television shows. I just want a cute little shirt so I decided to add a stencil to make it unique and more fun.

I started with this little red heathered bodysuit from Wal-mart that was on sale for super cheap; just the way I like clothes he's going to ruin in a single meal.

I found a bird silhouette on the web that I liked and then I traced it onto a little piece of thin cardboard. I used one of the little squares that comes inside of a fat quarter of fabric (I knew I'd find something to do with all those little squares). I just taped down the edges with blue painter's tape and put a piece of aluminum foil inside the shirt in case the paint bled through. Why foil? Because it was handy and I hadn't yet bought any freezer paper.

I started by filling in most of the bird with black fabric paint (I used Tulip matte soft fabric paint). I wanted a little of the red to show on the breast of the bird. The black alone felt a little plain so I decided to add a little grayish-blue that I mixed up. You can see some of the blue on the rock the bird's standing on. I removed the stencil once the black paint dried and then free-handed the blue accents around the tail and for the eye.

I'm really happy with how this turned out. The blue really pops on top of the black and helps add a little more dimension to my bird. Now he looks like he has some feathers and I love the wispy tail.

 This project can also be viewed, along with many fabulous others, at the Tea Rose Home link party.

The most flattering shirt dress? Absolutely!

I finally finished a project for myself. Now that I am a mother I tend to dedicate all my crafting time to making cute things for my little guy. I decided it was time to take an evening to make something nice for myself.

I ran across a tutorial for the most flattering shirt dress from Prudent Baby while exploring the world of mommy blogs. It looked cute and the directions sounded easy enough. I would definitely have to say that this is a beginner project.

I've seen several adorable shirred summer dresses for little girls lately, but since I only have a son I wasn't going to be making him any dresses; enter the most flattering shirt dress. I am super happy with how this summer dress turned out. I think this may be my favorite summer dress ever and this was only my first try; I saved my favorite fabric for after I worked out all the kinks (you know, in case I messed up everything horribly and ruined all my fabric).

I bought this cute navy and green fabric at JoAnn Fabric & Crafts.  It was $6.99/yd and I bought two yards. I love that three hours (approximately, I didn't set a timer or anything) and $13 later I have a cute dress that I actually feel good in. Jaime from Prudent Baby says the dress is so flattering because, "V-necks take the attention away from your giant post-baby boobs, and a shirred waist is never too tight and can be placed at your skinniest part (flabby baby belly=hidden." How right she is.

When you reach the point where you're ready to sew up the sides, the directions even point out that you should be careful to stop at the notch you made so you don't sew your armholes closed. This seemed obvious, yet I found myself pinning the sides together from the top down. Thankfully I double-checked my pinning and caught the problem before I had to pick out two long seams. I decided to use a red pin to mark my stopping point just below the armhole while all my other pins were black.

This is the point at which the all your seams are sewn and you try on your "dress" to decide where you want the shirring to go. Jaime from Prudent Baby says it will look like a tent. I felt more like I was wearing a rectangle, but you get the point. The shirring makes this dress. I was ready to go.

I was a little nervous about sewing with the elastic thread since I had never done it before. There are a few tips at the bottom of the tutorial but I also found this super useful information for sewing with elastic thread. I followed the directions given at Creative Heart and everything worked out as it should. I took me a few tries, and half my spool of elastic thread, to get the bobbin tension set correctly, but once I got it the sewing was easy. Initially I had a problem with the elastic thread unwinding a little from the beginning so I taped the starting end to the top of my bobbin; problem solved.

Here's what the shirring looks like on the inside of the dress (they only had black elastic thread but it shows up better for a picture anyway and it doesn't show through the dress).

And what it looks like from the outside. I used navy thread so it blends in well with the pattern. If you look closely you can see the blue pencil line I used to draw my first shirring line. I drew all the way across the front and back of the fabric because I didn't trust myself to sew in a straight line without a guide. The pencil is water soluble so once I wash the dress you'll never know it was there.

Here's the finished product. I love it! I can't wait to make another. I just wish I could nurse in it. Either way, it's super comfortable and it hides everything I currently want to hide. This project is definitely a winner.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spruced up cardigan

Here's the finished product. I liked the pale pink sweater that I found for pretty cheap from Old Navy but I felt like it needed a little something extra; enter some felt flower embellishment. (I can see now that I should have taken my sweater out of the dryer before it got all wrinkly. I think it's still pretty cute though.)

A few weeks ago I bought these shoes at Payless and I was inspired by the cute flowers on the toes.

I have seen lots of fun felt flower ideas on multiple blogs recently and thought I would make some of my own. It was super simple too and very quick; just the right project to complete while one little boy took a nap. I looked through the clip-art available in Microsoft Word (I know, what a strange place to look for a template for crafts, but it totally worked for this). Once I found a flower I liked I made several copies (again, in Word) and scaled them so the largest was 3" in diameter. I scaled down the rest of my copies by 1/2" from the previous size. 

 When I cut out all of my templates I was ready to cut them out of my felt. I liked the contrast of the bluish-lavender colored felt and the pale pink of the sweater. I wanted more of a pop than tone-on-tone flowers offered. I stacked and re-stacked my layers until I was happy with how the flowers looked.  When I was satisfied, I glued all the layers together using Fabri-Tac permanent adhesive since it's washable.

Originally I planned to use all six of the sizes to create my flower, but once I stacked them I decided it was too much. For the large flower I ended up using the five biggest flowers and for the smaller flower I used the four smallest sizes. When the glue between the layers was dry I was ready to add the centers. I just used a few glass beads that I had on hand and stitched them on making sure to go through the layers for added support. (I have a small baby around so I don't need to be dropping anything small, glass, and swallow-able onto the floor.) After adding the centers, I was ready to glue the finished flowers to my sweater. I pinned them in place until I liked the placement. I thought the flowers looked better when slightly overlapped. I glued them to the sweater using the same glue as before.

The finished product has been successfully washed and dried and everything is still in place. And now I have a spruced up cardigan to wear since I'm not wearing  necklaces anymore due to a strangulation hazard (from the baby strangling me when he tries to rip the necklace off my throat).