Monday, April 02, 2007

Toddler Sewing

Guess who keeps growing? A couple of weeks ago I was given some very nice blue cordoroy so I made up a pair of pants for Little Boy using Simplicity 5284. See how much longer they are than his old pants? And - the pair that was fitting him best is thread bare in the knees. I hadn't realized his old pants were soooo short until he started wearing his new pants - so I went to Joanne's and got more cordoroy for a 2nd pair. Yup - winter weight pants, because even though the stores are full of summer clothes, it still feels like winter to me! I do have fabric for summer pants too, but first things first. My boy is so long legged and thin - it is much easier to just make him pants than to try to find something that even remotely fits - I always have to take in the waist on store-bought pants, but the fit still leaves something to be desired.

This is a GREAT pattern for pants, by the way! Easy, easy! My sister makes these for her son who is several years older than mine - lots of sizes included! Wouldn't they be cute for a girl with little rounded pockets edged with lace? Both of us put the pockets up a little higher than the illustration. A few tips from my sewing whizz sister... (and if she is handing out sewing tips - it is well worth listening!)
1) zig zag the outside edges of the pockets on all 4 sides
2) don't bother with folding the top edge of the pocket back and forth - this helps eliminate bulk on thicker fabrics (your edge is zig zagged anyway now so it will be fine)
3) when you pin the pocket down - don't spread it out perfectly flat - give the kids a little bit of room in the pocket to put their little cars/toys/treasures!
4) when sewing down the waistband for the elastic - when you get to the back - stick a folded piece of ribbon into the seam - like a tag - so the kids will know front from back - it helps to keep track of the back if you mark the pieces "B" with a pen along the top when you first cut out the pattern. You can get some of the cutest ribbon too!
5) when buying elastic - look for the extra long package and you will get enough for 2 pairs of pants instead of just 1 and it is almost the same price

And some tips from me:
1) I use an old pair of pants to mark off the waistline - crotch to waist, plus how ever many inches I need to fold the top edge 1/4" - 1/2", elastic space (the pattern calls for a narrower elastic, but my sister and I both use 1"), PLUS another 1/4" to allow room for the elastic in the casing and the stitching. For some reason - patterns tend to put the waistband up around your kids armpits!
2) when stitching the casing down, I set the needle position over to the left for about a 1/8" seam
3) I mark the elastic with a pen at my son's measurement and then cut it 1" longer - then I just have to line the other end up on the actual measurement line and sew them together (add 1/4" for bulky fabric) - this method seems to give me the best fit
4) my sister and I both evenly spread the fabric around the finished waist and then sew down the side seams - this helps prevent the elastic for getting twisted
5) nothing wrong with a 2" hem allowance - I folded 1/2" up and then the hem is 1 1/2" - so there is room to let these pants down

Some handy tools: I always use that little ruler with the sliding red button to mark my hems and waistbands. And - I prefer to use a bodkin instead of a safety pin to pull the elastic through - I fold the elastic 2X to give the bodkin something to hold on to.

So - did anyone notice that there is a 4" difference between the old pants and the new ones! The brown pants are 1/4" longer than the blue pants... just in case!

I also made him this roomy bag (19"X22") with a zipper on top - Simplicity 5535. He loves it - I am not thrilled. One night when he is sleeping I will take it apart and put on a zipper placket - it is only 2 more pieces of fabric and will give the bag a much better shape. But - in the meantime - it is done! I used a nice, chunky (toddler friendly) zipper and home decor weight fabric. I have left-over fabric to make him some smaller bags to go in the bigger bag. Also - since it is a B-A-G - why is it that you cut the fabric a bit too short for standard sized zippers? Just cut the bag a bit bigger to accomodate your zipper and you will save some aggrevation - it isn't like it is a fitted garmet where every inch counts. Oh - and I didn't use the contrasting fabric on top and bottom because I didn't want to cover up the great monster truck fabric!


Bingo~Bonnie said...

I have always loved how you call your son "little boy" and now after reading about his growing spurt - wonder if you will start calling him another nickname when he isn't such a "little" boy any longer? Perhaps - "mr. longlegs" ;c)

I think it is great you sew clothes for him and how you let him choose the fabrics for his PJ's and robe :) ~Bonnie in SE Texas

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Little boy is so lucky to have a mommy who sews for him. His growing spurts will continue, too ;) The bag is so cute, I know how he must love that!

Susan said...

Wow, he's growing so fast! Probably just as well to wait until summer to make lighter weight pants - or even shorts. I made shorts and t-shirts for my boys, but I never tried long pants. =)

The bag looks wonderful. Are you going to get it away long enough to change it? LOL!

gwen said...

My son (now nearly 7) still has the same problem: he loses all his trousers and so till recently I made his trousers myself. I used a lot of the tips you and your sister gave as well like the folded pocket, the wider elastic band etc,... It was fun and fast. Now he wants bought pants, well fortunately I have patchwork left!
Take care.

Linda_J said...

I think you are going to have to start referring to him as your "little man" He is really shooting up in heighth! Summer clothes probably don't matter near as much as keeping those long legs covered up while it is still chilly.

Nancy said...

"Little" boy sure is growing fast! thank you for sharing his childhood with us. I've really enjoyed watching him grow over the past year and a half. :-)

Shelina said...

It always impresses me when you show clothing you have made. My sewing was limited to simple shirts without sleeves. And while I made a pair of denim pants in home ec, I only wore them when all the other clothes were in the laundry.

Smart idea about the bag. I wonder why the pattern designers don't do that themselves. Maybe so their design will be unique.

Simonetta said...

Wow!!!Beautiful,great job,really :)))Have a happy Easter time :)))

Happy Valley Quilter said...

Oh, how that brings back memories! I used to make 80% of my children's clothing. I sure was glad when it was summer and they could wear shorts. They don't grow up and out of them quite so quickly! :-)

Shelina said...

Evelyn, I am so happy you are back together as a family again, despite the adventures. That M&M quilt is beautiful, I can see how LB would want to claim it for himself. The sack is such a lovely idea. I keep the temperature low at night as well, since I have a programmable thermostat. It isn't like there is a shortage of quilts around here.