I don’t know why, but I caught the sewing bug a few weeks ago. I am fully aware that I have a short attention span and that my interest flits from project to project…sometimes it’s painting, sometimes it’s photography, sometimes it’s fixing things up around the house. But right now all I want to do is sew. And when I sew, I want to make clothes. Not curtains, not cushion covers, not tablecloths. Clothes.
The only problem with this is that I have not had great luck sewing clothing in the past. And it is very frustrating to stay up late finishing that dress/skirt/blouse/thing and find out, in the end, that it either screams “I made this myself” or is just so unflattering that it’s not worth wearing more than once before it is condemned to the dark recesses of the closet.
Despite my previous track record, however, I’ve decided to have another go at sewing a few bits of clothing for myself and for Camilla. To separate my current wave of enthusiasm from my previous endeavors, I am calling it The New Sewing and have established a few rules:
1. I will look through my own clothes (and Camilla’s) before sewing something from scratch to see if I already own anything that could be made more wearable through simple alterations.
2. I will sew to meet a specific need and not just for the heck of it.
3. I will not buy fabric unless I have a very specific project in mind, and I will check my current stash first to see if I can use anything I already own.
4. I will make sure that the fabric is appropriate to the project and is a wearable and flattering color or print. (I’m thinking of some specific “short sleeve plaid flannel shirt” and “blue/brown prairie print skirt” fiascos here.)
4. I will take the time to prewash the fabric, make measurements, baste seams, sew a muslin, serge the edges, and whatever else it takes to make a fully-functional garment that is designed to be washed and worn for many years.
5. I will seek out and pay for good patterns if I think they have a better chance of fitting myself or Camilla than buying cheap ones or making my own.
Well, that’s a pretty lofty list and I’ve already broken, um, a few of these. But I feel that it’s good for me to at least start with these points in mind, especially since it’s very easy for me to get an idea in the morning and want to start making it that afternoon. But good sewing really doesn’t work that way. Picking out fabric, washing it, finding a pattern, cutting it out, making adjustments, sewing and picking out seams, hand stitching buttons…all these things can be so slooooow. But I need to learn patience. And I really want to become a better seamstress, which isn’t going to happen if I just slap some fabric together and call it good. Practice doesn’t make perfect if your practice is always sloppy.
I’m now going on week two (three?) of The New Sewing, so I’m obviously running a little behind with my blog posts. But I can show you one of my first projects, which — I am proud to say — produced my baby’s first mama-made garments. Unbelievably, I had not sewn anything for Camilla thus far. Usually I find so many cute things at the thrift store or Target that I decide that it’s not worth the effort, and for really complicated clothes (jackets, jeans, button-up shirts) I still think that’s a better use of time and resources. A few weeks ago, however, we found that the babe was running low on pajamas and that gave me an idea. You see, my darling mum gave me an old and incredibly heavy serger for Christmas that was still sitting in my closet because I was strangely terrified to use it. But what better first serger project could there be than jammies? Good fit isn’t essential and no one will see them besides family. (Oh, and everyone who reads this blog.) Plus, I am predisposed to be forgiving because she just looks so cute when she wakes up with scrunchy hair that I won’t even notice a few wonky seams.
So, that’s what I did. For fabric, I went to the Goodwill on their 99 cent tag sale day and came home with a pile of extra-stretchy t-shirts. I have to say that, if you’re trying to sew baby pajamas, old t-shirts are really where it’s at. They’re pre-shrunk, they come in way more colors and patterns than the knit fabric at JoAnn’s, you can find them with a lot of different weights, softnesses, and stretchiness, and you have the option of using the existing t-shirt hems instead of sewing your own. Score!
For patterns, I used the 90-minute shirt tutorial on Made and the baby tights tutorial on Made by Rae with a few adjustments (i.e. no feet). I wish I had made my patterns a little bigger since these fit perfectly right now and I had been hoping for something a little loose. But I can easily adjust my homemade patterns the next time around.
I cut out five shirts and five pairs of leggings but have only finished a few since I need to rethread my serger in black before doing the others and am therefore finishing every single project I can think of that uses white thread. These are the first ones I finished and I admit that they don’t look all that great on the table. The fabric I used for ribbing was way too thin and ended up looking really wavy after I serged it. (Side note: the only solution I could find online to this problem is to adjust the “differential feed,” but my machine is so old that I can’t do this. Do any experienced sergers out there have any other suggestions?)
But, I think they look pretty cute when they’re worn by the model.
I need to make the neck opening a bit bigger next time around, but I can still squeeze the shirts over her head.
See how enthusiastic she is about her new jammies?
I accidentally made the waist too short on this pair of leggings…oops. My baby wears lowriders.
Oh, can I also take a minute to brag about her standing prowess?
It comes in very helpful when you want to help mommy do the laundry.
Which is evidently waaaaayyyyy more fun than she realized.
This is the other set I finished.
I wrapped the ribbing around the unfinished edges instead of just sewing it on top, and I think it looks a little bit cleaner.
I made this set from an old long-sleeved tshirt of mine and was just able to eke out both the shirt and the pants.
It’s a little hard to see, but I was able to re-use the decorative hem for the pant cuffs and shirt bottom.
Oh, and the color matches her eyes.
Which are usually fixated on whatever fascinating object is dangling nearby.
Unless the foot monster is coming.
Beware the foot monster!
You think that you are fast…
…but HE is faster.
And when he catches you, he will eat you up. With kisses.
Which makes you smile like this.
(More sewing projects to come, as soon as I can get some decent photos…)