Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sticks and stones may break my ... jeans?

My daughter has always been pretty easy on her clothes. We get a lot of things passed down to us from a cousin, and by the time we are ready to pass them on again, they are usually in the same condition as they were when we acquired them (with the exception of paint splatters here and there ... she's an artist, you know).

However, this past year we started something new: Kindergarten. And wow ... has she ever been mean to her clothes recently! She's got holes in shirts that I thought were indestructible, and those school lunches ... let me just say the stains are nearly impossible to remove! Mostly we don't mind a little stain here and there, but the holes are a force to be reckoned with, particularly in the knees of her jeans. She is pretty laid back when it comes to fashion, but she will not, and I mean NOT wear jeans if they have "knee holes".  Like these for instance:

Perfectly good pair of jeans, not ready to be thrown out, but not being worn. Well, I finally found a solution to the problem that we both love. I get to go for a while longer without ditching clothes unnecessarily, and she gets to wear something she thinks is amazing. It's a simple patch job.

Now, before I start in on my instructions, let me make clear that I am not a pro. What I did today was the first time I've ever tried to patch something, and I threw it together using knowledge from other projects I've done in the past. This might not be the "right" way to do this ... but it worked for me. If you have tips I would love to hear them!

Okay ... so what you need:

  • A pair of jeans with holes (or without - if you are just feeling extra creative one day!)
  • A small scrap of coordinating fabric
  • Embroidery floss to match the fabric
  • Iron-on adhesive (I use Heat-n-Bond ... LOVE this stuff)
  • Cardboard for template (optional)
  • Needle and scissors ... no machine necessary!!

The first thing I did was to make some cardboard templates:

This step isn't 100% necessary, especially if you are a pretty decent artist. You could draw directly onto the back on the Heat-n-Bond if you wanted to. I like to use a template because I save them for later if I ever need it again. 

Next, you iron your adhesive onto the wrong side of your fabric. Make sure you follow the instructions that came with the adhesive that you are using. Mine says to iron for 6 seconds ... easy peasy.

Then I used my cardboard template to trace the pattern (hearts in this case) onto the paper-back of the adhesive. Remember if you are using a template that has a right versus a wrong way (like a letter for example) you'll need to trace your template upside down.

Next, cut out your pieces and lay them out on the jeans to decide where you want them to end up. I wanted to cut out more than just the hearts to cover the holes in the knees ... just a single knee patch wouldn't have looked right in my opinion. 

Then you iron the pieces down, again following the manufacturers instructions (mine said to iron 2 seconds, I went just a bit longer since the jeans are thick). Next break out the embroidery floss and stitch the pieces down with a simple backstitch. I used 3 stands of floss, doubled for a total of 6 on the needle at once. To do a backstitch, you come up through the fabric, then go down back to the underside about 1/4" away from the beginning stitch, then up again 1/4" away from when you stitched down ... and then back down in the spot where you stitched down before. Wow ... that sounds WAY more confusing than it really is. Here are a few pictures that should help. You also can see what the back of the fabric will look like:

I like to do one more good press with the iron after all that stitching, and then you should be ready to go!

She loves them, and I do too! 

Now if I could only think of a creative way to save my son's jeans, I would be in good shape! Something makes me think he really wouldn't appreciate the hearts on his knees ...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Out with the old t-shirt, in with the new summer top!

This past Sunday I had a "summer bug" and needed to create something summery before these doldrums of winter just wore me out! So (after building a snowman with my kids), I took an old t-shirt of mine and turned it into a cute summer top for my daughter! It was super easy and went really quickly! Here are the instuctions:

You'll need:
  • old t-shirt
  • scissors
  • elastic thread
  • regular thread
  • ribbon
Okay, here we go ... first, do a little online research on "shirring" fabric. I'll give you a quick breakdown here, but I watched a few videos on YouTube before I attempted this project. Here is the video that I found most helpful.

Second, find an old t-shirt in your closet that you don't want anymore. This one was a medium or a large, and was just a bit short on me:

Next, cut it right below the arm holes. This step doesn't have to be exactly perfect (one more reason to LOVE this project!) and a rotary cutter is nice, but not necessary. I actually cut the front of the top a little higher than the back - and not intentionally - but the end result is still super adorable and actually looks like I designed it that way (and only you know differently!!):

Next ... get ready to shirr the fabric! 
  • You'll hand-wind your sewing machine bobbin with the elastic thread, being careful not to stretch it too far while winding. Then just place in your machine as usual. Use regular thread on the top of the machine. I used orange on the top to match the fabric, and plain white elastic in my bobbin. 
  • Then you will want to set your sewing machine tension about as high as it goes (I cranked mine up all the way).
  • You'll also want to use the longest straight stitch that your machine allows.
  • Finally ... keep in mind that while sewing you will want to gently pull the fabric in the front to get the "stretchiness" right. I would recommend sewing on some scrap fabric first to get the feel of it before beginning (or else you'll have to rip out a few rows and start again, like I did)
I didn't mark my fabric, but used my sewing machine's foot as a guide to make my stitches about a quarter to a half inch apart:

No need to hem down the top (though you could) if you are using a t-shirt as it won't fray, and it ruffles beautifully. 

That's about it! I could have been done here, but my fabric didn't gather as much as I wanted, so I had to add some straps to ensure it didn't fall off of my little girl. If you want to add some straps, just try it on your model and pin the straps in place where you want them:

Then I used a plain old zigzag stitch (but remember to use regular thread in your bobbin and re-adjust your tension) to stitch the straps in place. Then you are finished!

After all was said and done I added a little embellishment to the front using some buttons I had in my stash ... but it's really not necessary. I love this project because it's adorable and super easy! I plan to make many, many more this summer! Time to hit some thrift stores!