Posts Tagged ‘tutorial’

All that glitters…a quick tute to extend the life of a pair of kids pants.

K, so I’m not done the sparkle dress yet, it is cut out and waiting for me to do.  In the meantime I made up a couple of pillows using another sequin fabric we had at work.  I had a bit left over so I decided that it would be great for fixing a pair of my daughters pants.

She got a pair of jeans from the Salvation army a few months back during one of their dollar sales.  She loved them, wore them all the time and then the inevitable happened.  She got holes in the knees.  The pants were starting to get a bit short anyhow but they still fit in the waist.  Fixing them wouldn’t be a problem since the style already had a seam right around the knee area so all I had to do was cut of the legs at the seams, use the cut off bottom portions as pattern pieces and add new fancy bottoms to her pants!

Here’s what I did, you can adapt this to any pair of pants and the fabric you choose can be gender appropriate of course.

Old jeans
fabric for new pant legs

I split the pants up the side seam and trimmed the leg off at the seam that was at the knee.   If your pants don’t have this particular seam (and they probably don’t since this is purely for design) just cut off the pant leg slightly above the knee (or just below would work too) so the seam doesn’t run directly across the knee.  Nothing is more uncomfortable than a line of bulky fabric right across the kneecap.


I was instructed to keep the little embroidered girl on the right leg so I cut it out to put it back on the new leg as an applique.  Next I ironed the jean pant leg so the seams were out flat.  Then used it as a pattern piece to cut out the new legs.  I added some length to the new ones while I was at it so she could get some more time out of the pants.


Then I just sewed the new pant legs on, sewed up the side seams and hemmed them.


Some thoughts on this project:

The type of fabric you use will determine the final look of the pant.  Choosing a more casual fabric would have given the pants a more casual look.  Choose your fabric based on your child’s favourite colours, prints etc and try to choose something that is similar to the pants fabric.  The fabric I used was a thicker knit but the jeans had a lot of stretch to them so the two fabrics actually worked out well together.

This works for boys pants too, just choose fabrics more suited to your little man.

This is a great way to reinforce knees too.  create a double layer of fabric across the knee and a single layer of fabric for the lower portion of the leg.

Use your imagination, straight legged pants can become flared leg pants and vice versa.  Just add a strip of fabric an inch or so above the hem if all you need is to add some length and the pant leg is in good shape.

For the Love of Buttons!

I love buttons.  I get excited seeing a jar of random buttons, all the colours and shapes.  I wonder what the buttons were on before they landed in my possesion.  I wonder how old they are, what their purpose was etc.  It’s a strange obessesion really and this morning I found a reason to get my buttons out to use them. :)

I had received a bunch of clothes from a friend, for my daughter.  one of the items in the bag was a pair of plain white tights.  My daughter wore them the very next day and promptly put a hole in them.

I let her wear them for a while like that and then decided today, as I was doing some mending, that perhaps I should attempt to fix them.  Embellished tights are really popular on the runways right now, though I have yet to really see them on anyone in the normal world.  I felt this would be the perfect thing to fix the hole in the tights and to use my buttons.  I googled embellished tights first to get some inspiration.  Cocorosa’s tutorial had caught my eye a few months back and it was one of the top hits when I did my google search.  Park and Cube has a cute one too.

Anyhow, I gathered my materials:

Parker’s tights with the hole in them
thread and needle
plastic water bottle


I started by sorting out the buttons I wanted to use.  I have a thing for green and pink right now and I had lots of those button colours so I sorted them out and put the rest away for another day.

In order to start mending the hole I needed something hard to put in the leg of the tights so that it would stretch it out a bit as well as keep me from stitching through both layers of the leg.  This is where the water bottle came in.  I put it in the leg of the tights where I wanted to put the buttons.  Then I threaded my needle, made a knot and started stitching on buttons.


Once I finished mending the hole and had more buttons on the leg I decided to have my daughter try them on so I could see how it was looking.  I then marked some more spots to put buttons.


And voila! Tights are as good as new and they look pretty cool too!



How to squeeze one more year out of a kid’s t-shirt

So my Daughter started school today and was very excited about it.  She got herself dressed but when she came downstairs I noticed the shirt she was wearing was about 3 inches too short in the arms and body so in addition to her belly hanging out, she looked like she had gorilla arms! lol!  That and she had obviously worn this while painting one day and it was covered with little paint spatters.

I had her change her shirt and off to school she went.  When I got home I decided to see if I could get one more year out her shirt.  She has three of the same shirt (my mom found them on sale for a buck somewhere) and I knew they would all be fitting the same so I took the black shirt and the purple shirt and put them together to make a ‘new’ shirt.

Here’s the black shirt before:


and here’s the purple shirt before:


I love how the grease stains on the purple shirt show up so much more prominently in the photo than they do in real life.  Yeah, laundry is not my forte and my daughter has a hard time understanding the difference between her shirt and a napkin.

Anyhow, first thing I did was cut the sleeves off of the black shirt.  I didn’t measure anything, just eyeballed it and used the first sleeve cutoff to measure the second sleeve so they were even.


I needed to add about 3 inches to the length of the sleeve which worked out that I could simply cut off the purple sleeves at the underarm point.


I needed to add approximately the same amount the bottom of the shirt so I cut off the bottom portion of the purple shirt that equaled the length I needed to add plus the hem allowance of the black shirt.


I then inserted the purple piece I just cut off in the bottom of the black shirt, matched the side seams and lined up the cut edge with the top edge of the hem. Then I stitched around the hem of the black shirt to attach the two pieces making sure to follow the stitch line of the original hem.  I used purple thread but you can use a matching thread.

Next I matched up the sleeve edges, right sides together and serged them together.  You can use a straight stitch instead, knit fabrics tend to be resistant to fraying so there really isn’t much need to finish the edges.


So here’s how the shirt should look at this point.


In order to give the sleeves the look of being layered I flipped the seam up and stitched a “hem” around the black part of the sleeve.


I wanted to try and cover up some the paint spatters on the front of the shirt.  Reverse applique is my favourite thing at the moment so I decided to put some reverse appliqued flowers on the front.  It didn’t completely get rid of the paint splatter but I think it looks very cool now.

I cut the sleeves and front from the back of what was left of the purple shirt.  I used the back since it was less stained and slightly bigger than the front.  I turned the shirt inside out and pinned the purple to the front.


Next I turned it right side out again and drew my design on the shirt.  Then I simply used a straight stitch and went around the design a couple of times.

I trimmed the excess purple from edges on the back and then cut out the black inside the petals.



And voila! New shirt that should last at least one more year before she completely grows out of it.


Some thoughts on this project.

To lengthen the sleeves you don’t have to cut the sleeves short, you can just add to the hem of the sleeves similar to how I added length to the hem of the shirt.

If you don’t have enough to lengthen the sleeves, just cut them off and hem them as short sleeves, that way they can’t be too short. :)

You can leave the front of the shirt plain, sew on an embellishment, iron on a patch, embroider something, it’s really up to you.  I just really like reverse applique. :D

Bowling shirt and Skinny jeans tutorial two-fer!

I promised and here it is.  Seriously you will laugh at the ease of these two projects.

First things first, the bowling shirt. This could work for any size, kids or adult, boys or girls.  My example is a shirt I made for my son.  It’s the same skull fabric I used for his first shirt but it’s white skulls on a black background instead! hehe! Fabric choices are totally up to you but crisp cottons work great for this project.
One thing I want to say on the subject of boys clothing is think outside the box.  We get so caught up with images that we can’t see past them.  One thing I hear complaints about the most when it comes to sewing for boys, and I’ve made this complaint myself, is the lack of boys patterns both in fabrics and in sewing patterns.  I’ve found that a lot of the girls patterns I have for pants, shirts and shorts can easily be transferred to boys with little to no alterations.  The pattern I used for the bowling shirt here is a ‘girls’ pattern but honestly, it’s such a basic pattern they could have easily made this unisex if they had just used a photograph of a little boy AND a little girl, instead of two little girls.  Anyhow, next time you are out shopping for patterns and fabrics for your little man, try to remember that just because it’s a little girl pictured or the sewing sample in the store is ‘girly’ it doesn’t mean that it is just for the girls.

On to the tutorial.

Things you will need:

shirt pattern – you don’t want anything too fitted and it doesn’t have to have short sleeves, fancy yokes, pockets etc.  The more basic the better.  I used Simplicity 4978.
Main fabric – in the amounts indicated for the size you are making
Contrast fabric – this will depend also on the size you are making so read the tutorial completely and you should have a better understanding of the amount you will need.
interfacing – again, consult your pattern
buttons (4 to 6, I used 5 for this shirt)
imagination :D

Start by choosing the size pattern you will make.  Last time I did a size 3 for my son.  It fit but just barely so I made a size 5 this time to give him some growing room.  I then decided to use red as the main fabric for his shirt and the black and white skull fabric as the contrast.


I traced out the pattern pieces I needed onto waxed paper since I plan to use the pattern a few more times.  I cut the front, back and sleeves out of the main red fabric.  I cut the collar and pocket out of the contrast.  The thing that makes this a bowling shirt, for me anyhow, is adding a stripe of contrasting fabric down one side of the front.  In order to figure out how much fabric I need for this I measure from the highest point at the shoulder/neck point and down to the hem.  I cut a strip of contrast fabric that length (you can add an inch or two just to make sure) and I cut the width of it about 5cm (2.5 inches) plus 1cm (.25 inches) on either side to turn under.  Depending on the size of your shirt you can make this wider or narrower, it’s really one of those things that is up to you to decided what you think looks best.



When cutting out your pieces, take note of the direction of the pattern in the fabric, if there is a pattern.  The skulls on my contrast fabric all go the same direction so when I cut the collar, I made sure that the skulls would be facing up when it’s attached to the shirt, same for the pocket.  Since this was a remnant piece I didn’t have control over the amount I got, so the skulls on my stripe actually go sideways.  Ideally, I would have bought enough fabric to cut the stripe so that the skulls were all going up.

Once the pieces are cut out, apply interfacing to your front facings and under-collar.  If you are doing long sleeves with a cuff, you will probably interface the cuff.  Follow the instructions on your pattern for this.  Next step is to add your pocket and stripe to the front pieces.  If you are doing a pocket and it’s not included in your pattern just cut a piece of paper into a square shape or whatever shape you want.  When you have something you like, add seam allowance and cut it out.  You can put your pocket on whatever side of the shirt you like, the stripe will go on the opposite side.

Next turn under 1cm (1/4 inch) of the long sides of the stripe piece to finish the edges.  Position it on the front of the shirt without the pocket and make sure that it is far enough away from the center front that it will not be covered by the buttons.  I could have put my just a little more to the side but it still looks ok.


Pin everything in place and topstitch.  I used a contrasting red thread but you can use a matching thread if you like.


And there you go!  Finish the shirt like the pattern instructs or however you might normally finish it if you are like me and don’t read the instructions.  :)


Now for the skinny jeans!  Again, this could apply to kids or adult, boys or girls and you can adapt the info to re-construct a pair of jeans/pants you already own.

Things I used for this:
Pant pattern (I used Burda 9626 but any basic pant pattern can work)
Tracing paper
Old pair of jeans (you can use fabric yardage too, just consult the pattern for the amounts you will need)
knee, calf and ankle measurements
calculator (or lots of paper to write out your math equations. :D )

I chose the pattern size that closest fit my daughters hip measurement.  I then measured her knee, calf and ankle and wrote those down so I wouldn’t forget.  I traced out the pattern pieces I needed using waxed paper.  Wax paper is cheap and perfect size for most patterns I need to trace but you can use any transparent paper you have around, I’ve used old patterns that I know I will never use again.


Next I prepped my jeans.  I cut up the leg seams and crotch seam.  I was careful to cut out the zipper so that I could re-use it.  I also took off the back pockets to reuse.  I planned to reuse the waistband as well but the button wasn’t in good condition so i used the waistband off of another old pair of jeans I had.  I pressed each piece flat and then I prepped my pattern.

Here’s my math.  To determine the width I wanted around the knee I added 2.5cm (1 inch) to the measurement I took.  I then divided that number in half.  I measured across the knee of the pant pattern front and subtracted the knee measurement I had just determined.  I can’t remember my exact measurements but for example, if the knee measurement was 20 cm (8 inches) then I added 2.5cm (1 inch) to total 22.5cm (9inches) for the knee.  Half of that would be 11.25cm (4.5 inches).  If the front pant pattern knee measurement was 20cm (8 inches) then you would subtract 11.25cm (4.5inches) from 20cm (8 inches) to get the difference of the two knee measurements.  Therefore I would need to remove 8.75cm ( 3.5 inches) from the knee.  Divide that number in half to get the amount to take off equally on each side (4.5cm (1 3/4inches).  Do the same for the calf and ankle measurement.  Mark on the traced pattern the amounts you need to remove from the sides to get a close fit and redraw your side seams.  Do this for the pant back as well.Make sure to re-add seam allowance.  If the fit isn’t close enough when you are finished you can always take it in some more.


I forgot to take pictures of the rest but basically what I did was laid out my front pattern on my jeans front matching the finished hem with the actual hem on the jeans.  I then did the same for the back.  I re-cut the pockets to fit the new smaller jeans and re-used the original jeans zipper.  I cut new belt loops and re-used the waistband from another pair of jeans.  I cut it to the length of the waist of the jeans, keeping the original button and making a new button hole.

Here’s the finished pair (these are a size 5 for my daughter).



Some thoughts on the skinny jeans:

-you may want to measure around the ball of the foot to make sure that the foot will fit through the ankle opening.

-I decided to distress the jeans a bit so I made use of a cheese grater, sandpaper and my scissors to create holes and worn spots.

- if you are wanting to make regular jeans into skinny jeans you can use the same math as above but subtract the difference in measurement directly from the jeans.  You can also put the jeans on inside out and pinch and pin out the excess.

-I had to add elastic to the back waist.  You can do this by cutting  slits in the inside waistband at the side-seams, making sure not to cut right through both layers of fabric.  Insert a piece of elastic and secure with stitching at one side.  Draw up the elastic to the whatever you need and secure the other side. tuck in the elastic ends and whipstitch the openings closed.  See my post about cut offs for the little lady to see pictures of this.

Remember Grade 9 Math? (a quick refresher and tute)

Me neither.  So when I decided to make hats for the kids I found myself pondering the mystery of pi.

Tools for this project:

a calculator or you can be brave and do this on paper
marking pencil
old pair of jeans and/or some fabric scraps (you need about .5 meter of two different fabrics, one for the outside of the hat and one for the lining)
scissors (both paper and fabric)

First things first, measure the head of the person you are making the hat for.  I was making one for my son and one for my daughter.  Their heads both measured 20″ (50cm).

Write that number down for reference.  Next, using your calculator (or your significantly superior brain if you are doing this on paper) and divide that number by 3.14 (pi).  This will give you the diameter of the circle for the top of the crown of your hat.  I remeasured my circle circumference just to check and it was pretty close, but I suggest remeasuring before you continue to make your patter pieces just to make sure.

To make the circle for the crown top, I took my piece of paper and marked a dot in the middle, this is the middle of my circle.  If you happen to still have your old geometry set from high school (or may be you kids have one) you can use the compass to draw your circle.  If you don’t, just use your ruler, place ‘0’ on the dot and keep moving it around to create your circle.  Don’t forget to divide your diameter in half so you get the radius, otherwise you will make the circle too big.

Here’s my math:  20″ divided by 3.14 equals 6 3/8″ diameter (radius = 3 1/8), or 50cm divided by 3.14 equals 16cm diameter (radius = 8cm).


I added about 1/2″(1 cm) seam allowance.

Next I made the pattern for the crown.  The length is going to equal the circumferance of your circle and the width can be whatever you want it to be.  My measurements worked out to this: length equals 20″ plus 1″ seam allowance (50cm plus 2cm seam allowance).  For the width I measured 3″ (7.5cm).


For the brim I cheated a little to figure out the measurment.  I have a chart in my college drafting book to help figure out meausrments for circles.  Here’s a little exerpt that should help you with figureing your own measurements. This is in inches.  I’ll explain converting inches to centimeters at the end of the post.

distance covered          1/4 circle          1/2 circle          3/4 circle          full circle
18                                         11 1/2                 5 3/4                  3 3/4                   2 7/8

19                                         12 1/8                6 1/8                    4 1/8                   3

20                                        12 3/4                6 3/8                   4 1/4                    3 1/8

21                                        13 3/8                 6 5/8                   4 1/2                    3 3/8

22                                        14                         7                            4 5/8                   3 1/2

23                                        14 5/8                 7 1/4                    4 7/8                  3 5/8

24                                        15 1/4                 7 5/8                   5 1/8                    3 3/4

25                                       15 7/8                 7 7/8                    5 1/4                   3 7/8

So I’m sure you are now wondering how the heck to use this chart.  Get a large piece of paper and mark the center of one edge.  I used the 1/2 circle since I was aiming for a not too floppy brim.  In the first column for distance covered I looked for the measurment that matched the circumference of the hat crown (20″) and then looked at the 1/2 circle measurement since I didn’t want a brim that was too floppy but not too straight.  The radius for the inside of my brim would then be 6 3/8 inches.  On the paper, using the mark you made as the center point, use your compass or ruler to measure the radius.  You should have drawn a half circle.  This is the inside of your brim and should match the circumference of the crown.  Don’t forget to draw in 1/2 inch (1cm) seam allowances.

Next I decided how wide I wanted my brim and marked down another 3 inches from the inside of the brim.  Again, dont forget to add seam allowance.


So you should have the three pattern pieces needed to make the hat.  I cut out two sets of each pattern piece, for each hat.  The first set I cut from an old pair of jeans for the outside of the hat.  The second set I cut from a scrap of cotton fabric for the lining of the hat.


Next I put the brim pieces together.  Fold your brim in half, right sides together and stitch across the end.  Do this to the brim lining piece as well.  Press the seam allowance open or to one side.


Place your brim and brim lining together, right sides, and stitch around the outer edge.  Clip the seam allowance, turn right sides out and press.


I topstitched around the edge after pressing.


Next I took the crown piece and folded it in half, right sides together and stitched the ends.  I pressed the seam allowance to one side. Do this with the crown lining as well.


I marked the crown in quarters using pins and marked the crown top in quarters as well.  I then pinned the crown to the crown top, matching the markings.  I stitched the two pieces together and then did the same with the lining pieces.


You can clip if you want, I didn’t find it necessary though and I just pressed the seam allowance down.

Mark the crown in quarters again and mark the inside brim edge in quarters.  Put the two pieces together and stitch around.  I trimmed the seam allowance to even it up but you don’t have to do this.

Next I wanted to put the lining on in a way that reduced the amount of hand stitching I might have to do.  So I marked the crown lining in quarters and marked the inside of the hat in quarters again.  I put the right sides together and pinned it at the markings.  The hat should be completely inside the crown lining.  I stitched around the edge and left an opening so I could turn it out.  After pressing I was going to hand stitch but then I got an idea that would eliminate all hand sewing. :)


I turned in the seam allowance on the opening and pinned it closed.  I then edge stitched around this seam line from the outside.  This closed the hole in the lining, keeps the lining from flipping out and looks nice.  yay!



Finished hat!

Some thoughts on this project:

I might consider making the crown a little wider, maybe 4 inches.

You can do decorative stitching on the brim, add eyelets for vent holes, put pockets etc.  This is such a basic hat.

If you want a floppier brim, use the measurment for the 3/4 or full circle and you can make the brim wider too.

If you are using a lighter weight fabric for your hat, you may want to consider using a stiff interfacing to give it some body.

How to convert inches to centimeters.

Basically 1 inch equal 2.5 centimeters.  So to convert from inches to centimeters, simply multiply by 2.5.  To convert from centimeters to inches, divide by 2.5.  simple.  When dealing with fractions for inches  you simply divide the top number by the bottom one but here are the decimals to make things easier.

1/8″ = .125,   1/4 = .25,   3/8 = .375,   1/2 = .5,   5/8 = .625,   3/4 = .75,   7/8 = .875

T-shirt sleeves into shorts and a t-shirt scarf, mini tute

A few weeks ago I agreed to do a pay-it-forward gift exchange.   A friend had posted a note on their facebook profile that the first five people to leave a comment would receive something handmade by her.  The deal was there was no set deadline, but it would be within the year, no set value and no notification of when or what was being sent.  It could be something crafted, it could be a box of cookies or a full on meal.  The only stipulation was if you left a comment that you had to re-post the note on your profile and agree to do the same for the first 5 people who commented and so on.

I really didn’t know what to make and then I came across a tutorial on This Old Dress.  I didn’t want to buy anything new to make my PIF’s so I dug in my sewing closet (yes I actually have to dig in there) and pulled out two t-shirts to use.  The original tute shows how to decorate the fabric with fabric paints to create more interest but I didn’t have the time or motivation (or paint for that matter) to do that so I chose a navy blue and light blue tshirt and figured the two together would make it interesting enough.


For this project you need one or two tshirts, the bigger the better, depending on how full you want your neck lush to be.  You can use tshirt fabric for this too, just sew up two rectangles with a zigzag stitch to create a tube.

Lay out your tshirts flat.  cut off the hem and cut off the body portion just at the underarm point.


Set aside the top portions of the shirts for the next tutorial and hang on to the bottom hem pieces.  Cut the two body portions of your t-shirt into horizontal strips so that you have loops.  I cut mine about 1″ (2.5cm) wide.  Next come the easy part, take each loop and give it a good stretch.  The fabric should curl up and almost double in length.  Once you have stretched all your loops you will want to tie them together.  Hold all the loops in one hand and wrap one of your hem pieces around the bunch and tie a knot.  And that’s it!   fun, super soft, versatile scarf.


Some thoughts on this project:

The bigger your t-shirt, the longer your loops will be, the more you can do with your scarf.

This will work best with cotton t-shirts (or cotton knit fabric from the fabric store) as it will stretch out and stay stretched out.  Any amount of spandex/lycra in the fabric will simply cause it to shrink back up to its original size.

Experiment with painting and dying your t-shirts to create a little interest in the finished product but do this before cutting your t-shirt in to strips.

If you sewed a piece of fabric into a loop for this project, be sure to wrap your hem piece (or extra strip of fabric) around the seamed area to cover it as it doesn’t look the nicest.

Now that you have finished your fun scarf and are looking pretty trendy right now, what do you do with the leftovers?

You can cut the sleeves and upper body portion of your shirt into strips and make some bracelets or whatever but if you have a toddler hanging around your house (or maybe one or two hanging out at your friends or family’s houses) make a pair of one of a kind shorts!

For this project I used the sleeves from the two t-shirts I make my tshirt scarf out of.  I also used a pair of my son’s shorts as a guide.

I used two sets of sleeves for this as I felt that one set would be a bit too short.  it really depends on the length of the sleeves of your tshirt so use your own judgement.


I laid a light blue sleeve on top of the dark blue sleeve and used the ready-made shorts as a guide for length.  I then trimmed off the excess fabric from the dark blue sleeve making sure to leave it long enough to attach to the hem of the light blue sleeve.


I then tucked the dark blue sleeve into the light blue one, lining up the cut edge with the edge of the hem inside the light blue sleeve.  Then I stitched over the hem stitch line of the light blue sleeve, catching the dark blue one on the inside, stretching lightly as I went.


Next I used the ready-made shorts as a guide for cutting the crotch of the new shorts.  Lay the sleeve flat with the underarm seam as the new inseam of the shorts.  Cut the crotch shape.  It doesn’t have to be exact and the front doesn’t have to be different from the back since these are knit shorts.

Sew the crotch seam.




To finish the waist I cut a strip of fabric from the leftover upper portion of the light blue tshirt.  I made it two times the width of my elastic plus seam allowance (approx. 2.5″ since I was using a 1″ elastic.) and the same length as the waist of the shorts.  I cut a piece of elastic to fit my son’s waist and stitched the ends together to form a loop.  I stitched the strip of fabric together to form a loop and folded it over the elastic.  I then stitched the encased elastic to the shorts making sure to stitch only through the fabric and not the elastic.

And then just trim the threads and put on your favourite toddler!






Some thoughts on this project:

if the sleeves are long enough you don’t need to double them up.

I realized as I was adding the photo’s that I cut the crotch before I added the other sleeve to add length.  There really is no right or wrong way to do this, it’s all about getting the finished product. lol!

You may want to wash the face of the toddler you give your shorts to before taking their picture.

Mei Tai style baby carrier with Tute

I’m pretty sure my brother’s girlfriend doesn’t read my blog but just in case she does visit pre-baby…hope you like your gift!

My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby this August.  I’m super excited about it and in addition to a few other things, I wanted to make them a baby carrier.  I personally used the Mei tai style carrier with a few modifications based on Corrina Troth’s ‘Frankencozy‘.  For me this was the most fabulous thing since my daughter was put into my arms but the design doesn’t suit everyone.  Case in point, my other sister-in-law requested one from me but after trying the style I used, requested the type with padded shoulder straps as she tended to carry mostly on her back, backpack style, which the wide straps of my carrier did not comfortably suit.

So on to this Mei tai.  I got a remnant of bright orange fleece at work and it’s the kind of orange hunters wear.  Since my brother and his girlfriend like to hunt I thought it would be fun to make something for the baby out of this fleece.  Also my brother is in the military so I thought something with camouflage would be fun to.  When I visited my mom and found a piece of camouflage material she wasn’t using, I knew it was meant for me.

Usually a carrier like this requires up to two yards of fabric in order to properly cut out all the pieces.  I, on the other hand, did not have nearly that much in just one piece so I’m going to show you how I squeezed this cool little carrier out of less than two yards of fabric.

Things needed:

marking pencil (optional, I eyeball a lot of things)
denim/canvas sewing machine needle
approx. .5 meter/1/2 yard of 60″ wide fleece
approx. .5 meter/1/2 yard of 60″ wide denim or canvas
approx. .8 meter/ 7/8 yard of 60″ wide decorative fabric (use a medium weight fabric with a tight weave)

For the pieces, refer to the photo’s for reference but basically the body is about 32 cm/13″ wide by 40 cm/16 long.  The shoulder straps are about 20cm / 8″ wide by 150cm/60″ long.  The waist straps are about 20cm/8″ wide by 75cm/30″ long.  I cut the center portion of the strap curved in an attempt to accomodate the natural curve the straps want to make when tied around the waist and in doing so, eliminate some bulk caused by the subsequent bunching.  I based this info off of another carrier, however the information is no longer available online so I can’t link to it.

meitai pattern

I’ll start with cutting out the pieces.  For the body cut one piece out of the fleece, denim and fashion fabric. If you are tight on fabric, measure out everything before you cut to make sure that you can fit all your pieces.  Because I had so little fashion fabric I laid it out on the floor in one layer.  I cut the body from the corner of one end, making sure the shortest measurment was in the fabrics lengthwise direction.  From the bottom portion of the fashion fabric I used the full 60″ length for the length of the straps.  I had about 16 inches so I simply cut the strip in half.  from the remainder of the fabric I measured off  30″ in length and split it in half, since it was already 16″ wide.  From the last piece, I was able to cut two of the center waist pieces.  Not sure what I mean for the layout? here’s quick picture that should help.

meitai layout

You will also want to cut out two center waist pieces in the fleece to use as padding for the waist.  If you want you can extend the length of the piece by about 4″ (10cm) on either side so that the padding extends into the waist strap a bit.  You will also want to cut to rectangles of fleece that are 13″/33cm by 7″/18cm to use as padding in the shoulder straps.P6280050

Here is how I put it all together.

I started with the straps.  Fold the shoulder strap in half, right sides together, and stitch across one end and up the unfolded side so that it makes a tube.  Clip the corners, turn the tube right side out and press.  Do the same for the other shoulder strap.


Take your shoulder strap padding peice and fold it in half.  Insert it into the open end of the shoulder strap.  You may have to wiggle it around until it is laying flat in a double layer, even with the open end of the tube.  Next, top stitch around the entire strap and make a couple of lines of stitching in just the padded area to keep the padding in place.


Next fold the waist strap pieces in half, right sides together, and stitch across the end and about halfway up the unfolded edge.  Clip corners and turn.  Then layer your center waist piece like this: two pieces of fashion fabric, right sides together and then two layers of fleece on top.  Stitch across the bottom edge, trim the fleece very close to the stitching line to remove bulk.  Next you are going to attach the waist strap pieces to the center waist piece.  It’s a little complicated to explain so hopefully the pictures will tell you how to attach these pieces.



Next layer the body pieces together like this: Lay the fashion fabric right side up.  lay one shoulder strap on one top corner and then the other strap on the other corner and pin in place.  Place the fleece right side down on the fashion fabric and then the denim piece on top of that.  Stitch around the sides and top, leaving the bottom edge open.  Clip corners.  Make more stitching lines in the seam allowance where the straps are connected to reinforce the seam.  Turn right side out.  You should have the denim fabric layered between the fashion fabric and the fleece.  Then top stitch around the edges.  In order to further reinforce the shoulder straps I did some zigzag stitching.


Almost done.  Now to attach the waist strap.  Center the center waist peice on the bottom edge of the body with right sides together.  Stitch across and trim the fleece very close to the stitching line to reduce bulk.  Flip the waist peice down and press.  Fold up the other side of the waist piece and turn under the seam allowance.  Pin and stitch close to the edge from one end of the waist strap to the other, closing the opening in the process.  Then stitch some lines in the padding to hold it in place.  It also helps to reinforce the strap.


Clip your threads and you are finished!

Usually a meitai is worn like this:

The waist strap is tied around the waist like an apron.  Then the body is flipped up around baby, the shoulder straps go over the shoulders, cross in the back and then tie around the front either around baby’s body or under their bum.


You can still wear this carrier like that, however you can also tie it so the waist strap isn’t flipped up.  Basically lay the carrier on your front so the shoulder straps are over your shoulders. Then tie you waist strap.  You can then let the front flip down to put baby in and flip it back up and tie the same as above.


Some thoughts on this project:

You can make the waist strap straight.  You can add a hood.  You can leave out the padding.  There are dozens of ways to make this style of carrier and dozens of instructions online to make them.  Just google “how to make mei tai carrier”.  One of the best sites for instructions and links is Jan Andrea.  There are instructions as well as links to other sites showing many different variations on this carrier.

If you find the straps are not long enough, you can add fabric to the end.  The length of straps here should fit most sizes.  Smaller sizes will be able to tie the straps in a bow, while bigger sizes may have to tie in a knot.  If at all possible, try to cut your pieces out in one piece.  The more seams, the more areas at risk of becoming weak and tearing.  So if you are seaming, be sure to do lots of reinforcement stitching.

Please please please exercise caution when using this carrier.  There is a learning curve to any infant/toddler carrier and this one is no exception.  If this is the first time you are using this style, practice with a teddy bear until you get the hang of holding baby with one hand and adjusting the carrier with the other.  One of the best sites for instructions (and place to buy a ready made, super quality carrier) is Kozy Carrier.  You can see just how versatile this style is and if you decide to buy from her, know that you are supporting a stay at home mom and not some mass produced thing from a big box store.

Also, I worked hard on this redesign and would appreciate that you don’t use my instructions directly to create your own carriers to sell.  experiment with your own measurments, strap styles etc until you come up with your own version.  These instructions are meant to help anyone looking to make their own for personal use.

Pirate Pants! (aka quick tute for kids ‘wrap’ pants with super easy applique)

I totally forgot to take pictures of the fabric layout when I first started.  Sometimes I just get ahead of myself.  :)

My daughter has been invited to her first birthday party and its a pirate theme.  All the kids are supposed to dress up in pirate garb so I decided to make a pair of pants for her to wear.  I had made these before based on a tutorial I found on Blueprints blog, by VegBee.  I loved the look of wrap pants and they seemed like they would be uber cool for warm weather but the only downside was the idea of tying and untying the waist for potty breaks, not to mention this was not something she would be able to do on her own.  So when I read VegBee’s idea to make them elastic waisted (and to stitch the sides down to prevent bum peekaboo) I knew I had to make a pair.

She has long grown out of those first pair and I thought a new pair for this pirate birthday party would be perfect.  So here’s what I did to make her pirate pants:

black broadcloth
elastic for waist
scrap of iron on interfacing (white)

First step was to cut out the pant shape.  To determine how big I needed to cut each piece I borrowed a pair of her pants and measured the waist all the way around.  This was how wide I needed to cut each leg.  I then measured the leg, added about 1/2″ for hemming and 1 1/2″ for turning down a casing for the elastic.  This was how long I needed to cut each leg.


I cut two rectangles this size and laid them on top of each other.  I then folded in half width wise.  I wanted a curved hem so I trimmed off the bottom corner into a slight curve (a sharp curve is harder to hem).    Next was to cut out the crotch shape.  To do this I used her pants again as a template.  I folded the pants in half and laid them on the fabric.  It’s best to use a pencil to mark the curve at this point.  The front and back can be the same shape, these are pretty easy fitting pants.

DSC_0245pant diagram

Open out the rectangles and hem the sides and bottom.  There will be a ‘U’ shape cut out in the middle which is your crotch seam.  Lay the rectangles on top of each other and sew the crotch seam.  I did a french seam but serging or zigzagging the seam would work just fine too.

pant diagram2

This next step is kinda hard to explain so forgive me if it’s a bit unclear.  Once the crotch seam is sewn you need to stitch the sides together.  To do this match your center front and center back.  Overlap the sides by 2 to 4 inches (it’s really up to you) and baste them together at the waist.  Next stitch down the side along stitch line of the hem of the overlapping side.  You only need to stitch down a few inches, I think I did about 5 or 6 inches.

pant diagram3

Next I turned down the casing for the elastic.  You can either stitch a button hole at the center back or leave an opening to insert the elastic through.

After stitching the casing I applied my applique.  This was quick and super easy.  Take your scrap of white iron on interfacing.  Cut out a skull and bones.  Iron them on. Done!  I have my doubts this is a very durable applique but I figure it will probably last long enough for the party.


Insert your elastic and the pants are done!  Cute, simple and fun to wear.


Some thoughts on this project:

This is most suitable for light to medium weight fabrics.  If the fabric is too heavy, like a stiff denim, it will not gather at the waist properly and may cause the legs to be stiff and odd looking.

You can leave the corners of the sides of the legs as is instead of rounding them off.  Or you could scallop them or add trim, or use bias binding to finish them.

This looks cute in a print as well.

Recycle fabrics from old pants or skirts to make these, saves on buying fabric, but if you are making this for a little one anyhow, you probably only need slightly less than meter or yard.

Elastic thread shirring and French Seams, new and old favourites put together in one cute dress!(TUTORIAL)

I’ve always wondered what elastic thread was for.  It intrigued me but I had not idea what to use it on or how to use it.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I’ve read a couple of tutorials now on how to use it and one of it’s most popular uses is for making stretchy shirred tops/dresses.  They are so cute, and looked very easy to do.  Here are a couple of sites to give you an idea.  The possibilities are almost endless really, it depends on your creativity!

Your Fabric Place – this has pretty good instructions and photo’s of the actual process.
Kuky Ideas – this one shows a really cute dress/top idea.
ThreadBanger – and for those that need a video tutorial, ThreadBanger has an awesome video tut just for you!

And here’s mine.  My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby this summer.  Not too long ago she had asked me about making her some dresses for the summer that would accommodate her growing belly.  I wanted to make something that was comfortable, uncomplicated but not tent like.  The idea of doing the elastic shirring for the top portion while leaving the bottom gathered and flowing seemed like a good option.  I found a really great remnant at work one night.  It was a black, grey and white striped rayon fabric, nice and light without being too see through.  It was about 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters (that’s 60″x60″ for you non metric folks).  I don’t think it’s really enough for a dress so I figured it would be a cute tunic top if it’s too short for a dress.  Originally I was just going to cut the piece in half and stitch the two rectangles together so the elastic shirring would make up the top of the dress and I would just have to do the two side seams and hem the top and bottom.

However, I needed to make sure that there was enough fabric to go around her baby bump, and I had to make sure the stripes were going up and down, so I cut the piece in half horizontally.  The one half would be the front of the skirt.  Then I cut the second piece in half.  One half would be the back of the skirt.  This last piece I cut in half once again to make the piece for the top.

dress diagram

These measurements are approximate.  Since my fabric was rayon I knew it would shrink some so I washed it first.  It depends on how your are going to use the shirring as to how much fabric you will use.  For a dress figure 2x your bust measurement (or hip or belly measurement, whichever is larger) and then the length from the top of your bust to where you want the dress to end, about 33 inches will give you a dress that goes just above the knee.  Again, this length will be different for different figures, the curvier you are, the more you may find you need for length.

Follow the instructions in one of the links above for sewing.

Here’s what I did, and this is where the french seams come in.  I stitched one side seam of the top using a french seam.  A french seam is a great finish, especially for those of you that may not have the luxury of a serger, or for those like me who have a serger that isn’t stitching properly at the moment.  It’s clean and sturdy, works great in most fabrics but is best in lighter weights and is ideal for sheer fabrics like organza and chiffons.

Colette Patterns and Hoppo Bumpo have pretty good tutorials on this.  Basically put your fabric wrong sides together, stitch a seam (3/8″ or 1cm is good), press flat, trim to about 1/4″ and flip fabric so right sides are together.  Press again and stitch your seam again, about 3/8″ or 1cm.  This encases the raw edge.  press and your done!  You can make this wider or narrower depending on the thickness of your fabric.

Once I had done the one side seam I hemmed the top edge by turning it under 1/4″ and then again 1/4″.  Then I hand wound the bobbin with elastic thread.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!  You must wind the bobbin so that there is no tension on the elastic.  I wondered why I couldn’t just do it with my handy bobbin winder or on the machine but quickly realized after putting the bobbin in the machine why this is important not to do.  When the bobbin is in the machine properly, you will find there is tension now on the elastic thread as it is coming out of the machine, which is what helps it to gather. If the thread is wound tightly on the bobbin it will either gather improperly or break the thread.  You will have to rewind your bobbin often, I only managed three passes with each bobbin, so if you have extras, wind them up to save time later.

Once your bobbin is in the machine (put it in just like you would if it were wound with regular thread), set your stitch length to the longest straight stitch.  Make sure your top thread is regular sewing thread.  Then stitch straight lines!  I started at the top just under the stitching line on the finished edge and spaced my lines about 1/2″ apart.  You can make them closer or farther apart, it depends on the look you are going for.  Be sure to leave tails at the end and not to trim them off too close.  When you are finished sewing your lines (i did a total of 17 lines) knot the ends of each row and trim off.

I then did another french seam.  When you trim this time, try not to cut the knots of the threads, I cut a few but I’m hoping the double stitching of the seam will have caught the elastic.  I then did french seams to finish the side seams of the skirt.  I hemmed the bottom and then did another french seam at the waist.  I had to gather the front section in order to fit properly.  Then all that is left is to press and add shoulder straps!

Here are some pictures.  I haven’t put straps on it yet.


Here’s what the inside looks like.


And some thoughts on this project.  I should have done more lines of shirring to take it right to the seam line, I think I can still add those in without too much difficulty. I also think it would be better to have a line of shirring right close to the top edge.

If at all possible, it is easiest to do this with as few seams as possible.

I may leave this strapless or make straps that need to be tied so that they can be tucked in for a strapless look or tied if straps are wanted.

If the shoe fits…+ TUTORIAL

I bought my daughter a pair of dressy shoes at the grocery store.  It was convenient and they were cheap (about $12).  Not too long after wearing she scuffed the toe and I guess the urge to peel the vinyl was too great for her to resist.  As we drove in the car I heard a noise something like tape being ripped off.  When I turned around to see what it was, she had already torn off most of the toe of one shoe and was working on the other.  needless to say I was not happy, they may have been cheap shoes but they were still new!


So I took them to work with me to see how I could possibly fix them.  I looked at fabrics, ribbons, and buttons.  I thought about glitter.  I finally settled on a string of sequins after watching a co-worker cut some for a customer.  I decided to just cover the toes of the shoes and not make it a bigger project than it needed to be.  Here’s how I did it:

Equipment used:
Shoe Goo (any heavy duty glue would work but this is meant specifically for shoes and I thought it was appropriate.)
approx. 3 meters of pre-strung sequins

First I scored the vinyl on the shoes with my scissors at a point I wanted to remove the vinyl to.  This probably isn’t necessary but since they were already peeled most of the way I figured I might as well finish the job.  However I’m sure you could just glue over top of whatever fabric the shoe is made out of.  I also cut off the bow that was on the shoe and saved it to put back on later.


Next was to take the Shoe Goo and, using the toothpick, applied it to the toe of the shoe.  You could probably use super glue or another really strong glue but shoe goo is specifically for repairing shoes (I got mine at Rona I think) and it also doubles as a protective coating.  I just used enough for each strip of sequins so that it didn’t end up drying out before I got to it.


I made sure that each strip of sequins were going the same direction.


I kept adding strips until I got to the last one.


I trimmed the excess sequins and threads and then wrapped the last strip of sequins around the base of the shoe to finish it off.


Last step was to put the bow back on.  I have to say, the shoes are pretty darn cute! and I would consider doing this kindof thing again,even if the shoes didn’t need it! :D

And voila! New shoes! A few thoughts on this project.

1. ribbons would look amazing on this.  Choose the same colours, contrasting colours, or varigated colours.

2. A strip of contrasting sequins would look amazing.

3. interesting fabric would be fun too.

There are so many options with this project, you just need to visit your nearest fabric/craft store for inspiration.  this would work great for adult shoes too.  Have fun!

**Some more thoughts on this project**
I found that after she wore the shoes the first time, the sequins started flipping and bending etc so it’s started to look a little raggedy.  My thought is that I didn’t use enough glue.  If you are trying this with the sequin string, I would suggest being generous with your glue application so that when you put the sequin strip on, you have to push it into the glue so it catches the individual sequins to prevent them from moving.


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