Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forth Time's a Charm!

I hunted and hunted for cute little leggings for newborns/three month olds to no avail.  There are tights for newborns (which are always too big) and little pants... but nothing like the leggings I pictured in my mind.  My sister found little mini some very adorable striped leggings to wear under dresses in the dollar bin at Target (of all places) and I really wanted others in all kinds of colors and patterns.  I’m sure I could find some online in some boutiques or similar places, but I really don’t like paying exorbitant amounts of money for something she’ll only wear for a few weeks... so I got the idea to create leggings out of adult knee socks.  (now, I'm not saying this idea is completely original - although I'd like to think so - you can probably find some very good tutorials online to make some of your own...)

I modeled the first pair I made off of the striped leggings from Target.  They were pretty straight forward: two tubes for legs with a panel in the back to allow room for a bulky diapered bum.  After quite a lot of finagling and some pinning and sewing and re-sewing and more pinning, the first pair turned out wearable (amazingly).  They were black and I added a little white bow to the front for embellishment.

Then I set to work on some white ones.  They were ok, not quite as cute because I didn’t have enough sock for a panel in the bum area, so I had to improvise as I sewed (and we know how well that goes...) So wearable, but not as adorable.  By this time, she had grown out of the initial black pair because I made them kind of tiny unintentionally.  Anyway, I started on the next pair, which were white and gray stripes.  I don’t know where I went wrong with these - you’re supposed to get better with practice, right?  Well, I was making mistakes all over the place.  

I didn’t leave very much room on top for elastic, so the rise is all wrong.  I also sewed the panel off-center and somehow attached the back to the front of one of the legs on accident.  So I had to rip that out.  In the end, I had one somewhat haggard looking pair of leggings with a small hole in the front of the leg.  I tried to applique a flower over it, but I’ve never appliqued before and it ended up looking, well, like I’d never appliqued before.  I sewed on some flower button embellishments instead and then added some cute little buttons to the ankles and although they look pretty cute and she has actually worn them, they are definitely not quality material.  

So, on to pair four.  I had these amazing shamrock socks that were this perfect kelly green color and I was excited.  Here they are: 

This is my method in more detail.  First, I cut the socks off right at the ankle.  
(For these socks, they were a little long and I didn't want the strips on the leggings, so I cut the tops off too)

The ankle part is what turns into the waist of the leggings.  I cut both socks down one side about 6 inches or so (this obviously depends on the size of the baby).  Then I turn the socks inside out and put the right sides together, pinning what will be the front off the leggings and sewing a straight stitch from the “waist” to the “crotch.”  I take one of the leftover feet, cut the toe off and cut up the bottom so that it is just a wide strip of fabric.  

I pin this between the two socks to what will be the back of the leggings, making sure it is centered between the two and taking care to pin well and not bunch in the “crotch” region.  Then, I fold the top of the leggings down and sew a casing for the elastic to go through.  I measure out the elastic and thread it through using a safety pin and sew up the hole.  Done!  

The green shamrock sock leggings turned out better than any other pair I had made!  And the best part?  There was enough sock left over for some awesome Irish wrist bands. 

I was so excited about the cute leggings, I decided to use some of my scrap fabric to make cuffs for the bottom.  I measured out two strips of fabric to go around the ankles.  I folded one in half and put right sides together and sewed it into a ring.  I turned it right side out, pinned it into the inside of the ankle and sewed it on.  

When I flipped it to the outside of the legging - presto!  Cute matching cuff!  I repeated with the other leg.  

Anyway, on my fourth attempt at leggings, I finally made a pair that I think are almost mistake free!  
My sister informed me that I had enough fabric left over to make a matching pinafore.  I didn’t really know how to go about that, but, bolstered by my success, I got right to work.  I laid out one of mini’s dresses for a pattern and traced around it with a sharpie onto the fabric.  Then I realized that:  (Mistake #1) I had just drawn on the right side of the fabric not the back.  

Since I had only drawn the front piece so far, I turned the fabric over to draw the back piece on the BACK of the fabric.  And then I realized that I didn’t really have enough material, like I thought I would.  So I played around with some different angels and ideas, and decided to make the back a “faux wrap” so I wouldn’t need a full back piece, just two partial back pieces.  Then I realized that: (Mistakes #2 and #3) I could only make it work if I redrew the pattern across some lines I had already drawn and it really doesn’t matter what side of the fabric you draw on with sharpie - duh, it’s a sharpie.  They bleed like mad.  I finished cutting the pieces out anyway and surveyed the damage.  Yep, you could definitely see marker lines across the back where they should not be.  Sigh.  I decided to try to make it work anyway and if I got done sewing it and couldn’t cover up the uckiness, well, I’d just chalk it up to practice.  I can use a lot of that anyway.  
First I turned all the unfinished edges under (except those that would just be sewn together, like the sides) and hemmed them so they’d be finished.  The neck gave me a little trouble, but I muddled through.  Then I pinned it right sides together, sewed the two back pieces to each other and sewed down the sides.  I hemmed the bottom last.  Surprisingly, it looked like a dress.  The shape was actually pretty cute.  I looked at the back and figured I could cover up most of the marker by just doing some kind of trim around the neckline.  I cut up some fabric scraps into strips, ran a basting stitch down the middle of each strip, and pulled the bobbin thread to gather it and make ruffles. Then I pinned the strips of ruffles around the neckline and the bottom hemline.  I started sewing and... the machine jammed.  I tore the fabric out, unjammed the machine and tried again.  It jammed again.  I repeated again.  It jammed again.  Over and over again, the machine jammed.  I was getting frustrated, to say the least.  I could not figure out what was going on.  I kept taking the thing apart, taking the bobbin out, looking for issues, putting it all back together.  After the umpteenth time, I turned to the manual and the troubleshooting section to look for answers. 
“The machine may be threaded wrong...” oh please, I may be a novice, but I know how to thread my machine. 
“The presser foot may not be compressed...” Yes, yes it was.  
I tossed the book aside and decided to go it alone.  Try and try again, and it kept jamming.  I adjusted dials, I tried starting in different spots on the fabric... Finally I decided to check to make sure the machine was threaded right; nothing else was working.  (Mistake #4) Low and behold, somehow in  the time it took me to pin on the ruffles, the thread had come unlooped from “Step Three” of threading my machine. 
With the machine re-threaded, I sewed on the ruffles.  I loved it.  It was so cute with the trim, and you could hardly see the marker lines.  I added a little rose that I made out of a leftover ruffle to the front.  

I decided to try it on mini with the matching leggings right away.  I had to pull a little too hard for mini’s liking to get it over her head and I realized that (mistake #5) I had not measured the neckline correctly and it was too small for comfort.  But, at least it was on her, and it looked like a dress!  

After all day of wearing it, I realized (mistake #6) that the zigzag stitches I used around the strips of fabric were not enough to keep it from unraveling on the edges.  I was a little sad, but the “distressed” look is kind of in right now, and she’ll only be wearing it until her head grows just the slightest bit larger.  So it’ll work for now, and next time I do ruffles, I’ll know better.  
So, here we are - my very first dress that really looks like a dress!  

SYS Thurs

1 comment:

Natalie said...

I totally enjoyed this post! It is all a learning process. I sewed for a long time when I was young and just came back to it a couple years ago - so I'm not really a novice, but I still go through all this too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...