Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jean reconstruction, Part 1.

Being on a tight budget, like many families, I try to reuse as many pieces of clothing as possible for multiple kids. Very often kids will outgrow an article of clothing long before they trash it. Not so in the case of Dimples and his jeans. He is a knee buster and has torn through the right knee of nearly every pair of pants he as worn since he was about 2. This has left me with many pairs of pants, where the only thing wrong is a hole in the knee. For four years I have held on to these, not exactly sure what to do with them, but not wanting to throw them away. I also didn’t want to give them away, because who wants a holey pair of jeans?

So when Cricket needed new jeans, I started searching online (because who wants to browse at a store with three kids in tow?) and found that, yes, people do want holey jeans and apparently will pay ridiculous amounts for jeans with a worn look. I finally figured out how to salvage all those holey jeans and outfit Cricket for the winter with little to no money spent on doing so. I am going to try to make this a tutorial of sorts, because I know others out there might want to try the same thing.
I pulled out six pairs of jeans that would fit Cricket with a cinch of the waist and a few folds of the bottom cuff. I also pulled out 5 pairs of smaller jeans that I could use as patch material.

I asked Cricket what color he wanted and he said yellow. It is his favorite color. I choose to make a patch from the black jeans, because I have yellow thread that would show up well. 

The first step is to clean up the hanging threads on the jeans that need to be patched. I just clipped off the longest threads. Next I cut a patch out of the black jeans that would fully cover the hole. I didn't want this to look too "done" so I didn't measure or even make sue that the rectangle was even.  I also didn't leave extra material for turning under edges for two reasons. One, trying to sew through 3 layers of denim (one for the jean, two for the turned seam patch) would likely break my needle. And two, I wanted the edges to fray with washing, giving it a look like all those expensive, designer jeans.

 Now you could hand sew the patch on, but with small jeans like this, even that will be tricky. I prefer machine sewing, so I had to open up a seam. From what I can tell, there are two different types of seams on a pair of jeans. There is your "typical" seam, where no stitching shows, and the "jean" seam where you see the top stitching, often done in yellow. Which side the typical seam is on varies. For instance, the pair of jeans I am wearing while typing this has the typical seam on the outside, but the pair used for this post has it on the inseam. It is the typical seam that you want to open up, otherwise you will need to match up the thread used for the top stitching.

Turn the jeans inside out so you can easily get to the seam. Get out your seam ripper and open a hole that is large enough for you to move around, but avoid opening it all the way to the bottom hem. It will be harder to close if you have to deal with the bottom hem as well. Start small at first, you can always open it further if needed. If you don't have a seam ripper, you need to get one. I consider it to be one of the most important items in a sewing kit, regardless if you are a master sewer or just patch things here and there.

Time to attach the patch. This is where your own style and creativity comes in. You can use a straight stitch like I did, or a decorative one. You can also use any color you want. It is up to you. I recommend pinning the patch on so it is not moving around. My original idea here was to have a bunch of lines across the patch, to show off the yellow. After I had the patch attached, I noticed some scraps from a school bag that I had made Cricket several months ago. Since he had picked out that fabric himself, I decided to add a small piece, for more even more yellow. I didn't hem this piece either, because I wanted it to fray with time. A couple of lines later and I was finished.

Now to close up the seam again. Because the stitching was not going to show, I didn't bother changing my machine bobbins. When I took apart the seam originally, I saw that there were two lines of stitching. One straight and one overlock. I don't have an overlock/serger machine, so I had to settle for a straight stitch and a zig zag. It's not perfect, but it works.And now you are all done! Turn the jeans right side out and try them on.

Cricket seems to like his new patch. This is actually the second pair that I have patched for him, so he is starting to get used to his "special" jeans.

You may have noticed that the title of this post says Part 1. That is because I am also in the process of re-working jeans for the other two kids. For Dimples, I am re-working two pairs of his sister's old jeans. I am not sure yet exactly what I will do, but I will post once  figure it out. For Freckles, she has a large number of jeans that are just one size too small for her. My plan there is to take out the outside seam and add fabric to increase the size. A post on that will also be put up once it is finished.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffing

My crafty friend Ms. D recently posted pictures of stuffed pumpkins that she had made. SO CUTE!! I of course wanted to make some too. This is the tutorial that she and I both used:

I will try to add the leaves and stems tomorrow.

Fat Quarters. Love them!

I let each kid pick their own colors.

With only 6 bobbins, I just add on.

It makes for pretty bobbins.

Hello Cricket!

All sewn and ready to be stuffed.

I wanted a little more shape than just a ball, so I anchored threads at both the top and bottom, then pulled them to create more of a pumpkin shape.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Monkey Tale

I LOVE making costumes. They are probably my favorite thing to sew. I bought my first sewing machine for the main purpose of sewing Halloween costumes. I have made a polar bear, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Little Bo Peep, a lamp to go with Bo Peep, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Snow White.  But when Cricket, my third child came along, I found very little time left to make them.

My friend, Ms. J, has an adorable 2yo, we will call him Cheeks, and she wanted to find a sock monkey costume for Halloween. She found one online but it was a little “odd” looking (and sold out). Yeah, it kind of looked like a sock monkey, but the hat had the face. I have always found costumes where the character’s face/mouth is on the hat portion of the outfit to be a little weird. I mean, am I the only one who thinks it looks like the child has been swallowed by the character and is now peaking out of it’s neck? No? That is just me?

Anyway, Ms. J found an online tutorial on how to make a sock monkey costume and wondered out loud on her Facebook wall if she would be able to put something like that together. Since Cricket is 4 now, and fairly self sufficient, (as in he can use the potty himself) I jumped at the chance to help her. I didn’t really have any other costumes to make this Halloween. Freckles is 10, so she is far too cool to go trick or treating anymore. Dimples wants to be Han Solo and already gathered clothes from his closet that will work. Cricket is more than happy to give Clifford his third Halloween go round.

The online tutorial looked easy enough. (you can find it here: but it turned out to be a little trickier than I originally thought. I think the main problem was that I used “official” sock monkey socks, (which I found at Hobby Lobby) which were likely less stretchy and smaller than the work socks she used. But I think it still turned out OK.

Now I didn’t take pictures along the way, so if you want to make it yourself you will have to follow the other tutorial. I know… noob blogger mistake. :\  I promise to try to get better at that. But the tutorial is a really good starting point, and I recommend it. A change to the original design that I made was that it is a stand alone costume. Meaning that I did not attach it to a set of Pjs like the tutorial. I did however add snaps along the back, to make it easier to get into. The key is to find an outfit that doesn’t stretch too much when the child puts it on, and use that as a pattern when you are laying out the socks. I ended up using 4 pairs of socks for what would be about an 18-24 size outfit. I did not have the same amount of leftovers as the tutorial, so I needed another pair to make the hat.

Changes I would make if I did it again… I would try to add red to the bottom area, like a real sock monkey has, and I would have made the ears out of the heather brown portion of the sock, rather than from the heel and toe. I also would have shaped the bottom better, so it was tapered on the sides, again, so it looks more like a real sock monkey.

Cheeks was not too sure about the fitting process. In fact, he cried like we were sticking him with pins. : (  But Ms. J reports that after dressing for their costume party, Cheeks had a change of heart. He ended up chasing his own tail around. :D I can’t wait to be his personal seamstress next year!

Monday, September 27, 2010

So what do you do? Oh. Never mind.

On the rare occasion that I get a chance to go out at night and meet new people, I find that the same question is always asked. “What do you do?” It is probably one of the most common ice breaker questions and sadly my reply is often the conversation ender. It seems that stating you are a stay at home parent is equal to you saying you have the plague. People can’t get away from you fast enough.

I was not aware that my decision to stay home with my kids suddenly rendered me stupid and boring. That it somehow erased all of my schooling and every philosophical, political or religious conversation I have ever had. That my life experiences include nothing more than changing diapers and wiping snotty noses.

Maybe people are scared that I will bore them with stories of teething and potty training. I can understand that. Those topics bore the heck out of me too. Yes, I talk freely about them with my other parent friends, but that is similar to you talking with your co-workers about TPS reports. Is that a topic YOU would bring up at a party? If not, then why do you think I would?

I am much more than a SAHM (for those not in the know, that means stay at home mom. See, we have our little acronyms too.).  I attended a liberal arts college, which provided me with conversational knowledge on a wide variety of topics. I am equally at ease talking about the downfall of Germany after World War I, as I am talking about the evolution of  Proboscidea or why you should avoid certain typefaces in marketing campaigns. I can also commiserate with you about idiot employers/coworkers and banter about why my sports team is better than yours. Just don’t ask me about grammar, because I am a bit shaky on that topic.

My point is that we are too quick to stereotype people before we get to know them. If you say you are a lawyer, I don’t automatically think you are a jerk. If you say you are a doctor, I don’t automatically think you will talk of nothing other than various diseases and open heart surgery. The whole point of ice breaker questions at a party, is to start a conversation that will eventually lead to finding common interests. To occupy time and get away from your normal, everyday conversations. To maybe discover a topic you had never thought of before, but now find extremely interesting.

So the next time you are at a party and someone says they are a stay at home parent, be sure to ask them what other interests they have. Perhaps what they studied in school before becoming a parent. But also don’t bore us with every detail of your job.

If you are a SAHP and out at a party, remember to leave the kids home both literally and figuratively. Do your best to read the body language of the person you are talking to and keep the conversation lively. Don’t forget that you did exist before kids and your mind has not entirely turned to mush after surviving colic.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How old is that baby?

I love, love, LOVE making presents for people. Especially for new babies The only problem is that I usually greatly underestimate the time needed to finish the projects I select. The last "new" baby I sent a present to was already crawling.

I think I am getting better though. I am currently working on two projects. One for a little girl just over 6 months and another for a baby born just a few days ago. I would love to say that I will have these finished and in the mail in the next few days, but that is not likely going to happen. But they are moving along and I get to think about the babies and their moms while I am working on the projects. Bonus!

These are the yarns I am using for the baby girl. It is about half way done, but I don't have a more current picture yet. I will post the link to the pattern once I post the finished piece.

This is a crocheted piece using granny squares. 

This is the top of my first quilt. The second picture is the back. I have it all pinned and ready to go, but am scared to make those first quilting stitches. As with the crocheted project, I will post the link to the pattern once I post a finished picture.

You should blog that!

It seems like everyone these days has a blog. Most of my friends have them and I have several that I read on a daily basis. But I never started one myself. Until now. I get so much useful information, inspiration and humor off of other blogs, maybe I can also educate, inspire and give a giggle to others.

I am hoping this will be a good mix of various things. From crafts, to DIY, to just random thoughts about my day.

I hope you enjoy what I have to share.