Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cloth diaper bag finally done!

Yay! It's finally done!. I was planning on making a tutorial for this bag but have decided that I have to make a lot of adjustments before I can let others enjoy it.

The far right picture is that of the lining (at the unfinished stage as it's difficult to get a good picture)

If anyone has suggestions for alternative ways of attaching the lining it would be greatly appreciated. I wanted to turn and tuck it but the stiff stabilizer that i used was really stiff so I applied binding instead but because of the zipper closure it made it very difficult to sew.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How To Make Bias Tape

You will need:

  1. Patience; if this isn't available a punching bag will also help :)
  2. a ruler
  3. scissors
  4. marking tool; Chalk preferably as it won't set in with ironing
  5. iron and ironing board
  6. fabric & thread
  7. sewing machine
  8. bobby pin/safety pin (long enough for the size that you are using ie. 1/2" double folded bias tape- you will need a bobby pin that is 1" or longer)

Bias tape has a wide array of uses. So what the heck is it? It's fabric that is cut on the diagonal (45 degrees)

It bends with the curves unlike if you were to use the straight grain of the fabric. It's used in finishing edges, cording and such. I needed some bias tape in order to complete my diaper bag so I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to try and make it myself. I can tell you it's not that hard to make. The main reason why I wanted to make it was because the hubby said "just buy some". Bias tape only comes in very basic colours, so if you want it to match your fabric or you want a pattern fabric, you will have to make it.

I had a lot of black cotton that I got from the 1.97 bin at Walmart. So I hit the net to research and came across a tutorial on how to make a continuous bias strip found here. This is a really good tutorial especially if you need a lot of bias tape. Make some and save it for later. I really liked how simple it was to follow.

After my strip was a long piece of unfolded bias tape, I needed to make it into double folded bias tape. So I again set out to figure it. I did have a 1/2" bias tape maker. However I needed a 1/2" double folded bias tape when completed. After spending more time trying to figure that out I finally realized that a 1/2" bias tape maker will make a 1/4" double folded bias tape. I then realized that the procedure was really simple and all you really needed was a bobby pin or safety pin equal to the single folded bias. Confused yet? Keep reading it will make sense.

I needed a 1/2" double fold so my bias strip was 2" to start (your bias strip is equal to 4 times the amount needed ie 1/2" x 4 = 2") So take your ruler and mark 2 dots so that the distance between them is 1 inch (which is a single fold in my case). Take your bobby pin and insert it before the lower dot and very quickly insert it again up through the dot (where my finger is) then insert the pin into the next dot and back out through the fabric of your ironing boarding and close it. You should now have a gap between the two dots that you marked.

Now insert your bias strip underneath the gap. It will start to fold inwards creating a single folded bias strip.

Take your ruler and measure the fold before pressing (should be 1" if following my measurements) then press. Once you get enough fabric through you can take your other hand and guide the fabric while keeping the iron down. Then if you need it double fold, fold in half and press it again.
Now take an empty piece of cardboard or a toilet paper roll and roll it up. Your done!

I also found a really great gadget on the market now made by Simplicity. Once you've completed making the bias strip you roll it around a wheel then insert it into the machine. It then goes through the bias maker and through a iron creating a single fold bias strip. It costs about $79.99 + US for the machine. I really can't imagine spending that much for this machine but if you make a lot of bias tape than it would be worth it as it would eliminate one step.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Modern Diaper Bag: tutorial (in progress)

With the arrival of our second child coming up, I decided to make a diaper bag as a lot of the ones available are fugly! Only when I tried to find a pattern I found them so bulky and babyish that I decided to make my own. Eventually I plan on making a tutorial of how to make this diaper bag. I haven't yet finished it as I have been really sick through this pregnancy. Please check back again soon to see if I have finished the tutorial.


Okay what do you buy for that someone on your list that has or can buy anything or who may re-gift the present? Well make them something that they can't find or give away :). I made these great placemats for my sister-in-law for Christmas. There are an array of tutorials on the net for great placemats. I made these off the top of my head as they are pretty easy. I used black broadcloth I got for $2.88 a meter and a quilter's cotton print for added dimension. I then added a lightweight interfacing I got at fabricland for $1.00 per meter as it had dirt marks from falling on the floor. I then embroidered her and her family's names on each placemats. I also made 2 other tiny placemats for the bar that were half the size of the normal sized placemats. Okay so yes I shouldn't have gone to all the trouble for someone who may not appreciate it but you have to look at it this way. It cost me about $7.00 for the supplies and I get more experience sewing! So that in itself makes it seem worth it to me. She opened them up on Christmas and loved them. Then my brother-in-law said to me "She dragged me everywhere for bar placemats and couldn't find them anywhere!"

Diaper wipes

Okay so I am frugal when it comes to some things. Why spent $3-4 for disposable wipes when you can make them for pennies. Why pay $6.99 at Walmart for a 4 pack of baby wash clothes. I made these double sided (great for messy clean ups) for about 17 cents each. If you compare the cost of disposable wipes (lets take Pampers Clean and Go which are my favorite because they smell oh so good) at $3.95 a package for 60 wipes, you are spending 7 cents per wipe. Plus you use it only once and throw it away. Say you go through 3 packages a week for a year that's 156 packages a year! Multiply that by say 3 years of bum wiping that's a total of 468 packages in the landfill. Not to mention the fact that you spent $1,848.60 to wipe bum for 3 years. Now that's a lot of sewing supplies or clothes or whatever else that suits your fancy! Here I used some discounted flannel from fabricland for $2.00 per meter. I first cut them into squares 7.25 inches x 7.25 inches and serged them around. If you don't have a serger no problem with right sides facing each other sew around leaving about an inch gap in the middle of one of the sides to turn them. Then top stitch them closing up the gap. I urge you to try going frugal and green this year. Use cloth to clean up spills instead of using pricey paper towels.

Simplicity Pattern # 2685 view D (with some changes)

Pictures: (left) finished bag, (middle) pattern used view D (right) lining
This pattern is a great pattern to own. I sewed this up for my mother-in-law for her birthday. The first change I made was to eliminate flap with the button, not because I didn't like it but because the material I used was to heavy to have another two layers. And the second change was to add pockets on the lining of the bag. My hubby picked out the fabric and I sewed it. I tried to convince him not to go with the fabric choice (really heavy) because I didn't think my machine could handle it but he was offended so I tried anyways. It turned out really well except that I used blue tailor's chalk on the lining to mark where I wanted my stitching lines for the pockets, which I couldn't get off. Oh well you live you live! This pattern is a must have for your sewing room because if you need a gift for someone it sews up really quickly and what woman doesn't need another purse!

Simplicity Pattern # 4940 Review

This is the finish costume I made myself for halloween. I went as a vampire's bride. The pattern is actually the first pattern that I've sewn for myself. It turned out pretty good although I would suggest that if you don't fit the exact measurements on the pattern it's difficult to change/tailor it to yourself.

Newborn Shoes: Free pattern

These are the cutest little baby shoes I have ever seen! I made them for my niece for her Christmas present. I used pink Leather for the sole, which I found at Lens mill for $6.00 for a huge piece of it approximate size was 3/4 yard. I then used quilters cotton for the lining and front. I also embroidered her name on the front of them. I found the pattern here. The pattern works out pretty well but it takes a bit of patience when you have to resize the pattern to correct size. The only other thing I would do differently is use a telfon foot to avoid slipping.

Pants for Hubby

These are the pants that I sewed up for my hubby over the holidays. They turned out great although the picture doesn't do them justice! I used the "Copy a pair of other pants" method to sew them up. They cost me about $6.00 to make out of fuzzy red fleece. I will eventually work on a tutorial for everyone in order to sew a great pair of pants.

Cloth Pads: Free Pattern

In recent months I also sewed up a bunch of cloth pads. This is of course before I got pregnant! Although I plan on sewing some more for my postpartum period. After reading about all the chemicals and stuff in disposable pads I decided that I would try them. Society is so mainstreamed into thinking that we need to buy disposables that I never thought about it until after our son was born. I was surprised to read that disposable products (diapers & feminine products) could take up to 500 years to decompose and actually have toxins known to cause cancer and endometriosis. I actually didn't mind using cloth diapers so I thought what the heck. I decided to try and make them myself to save some money (just in case I didn't like them) as cloth pads can cost $7.00 each. Although the price seems high over the course of years that you own them it's actually quite minimal compared to disposables. Say you buy 12 cloth pads for roughly $7.00 each, that totals about $84.00. So if you divide that by approximately 5 years you would be spending about $1.40 per month. Now keep in mind that you could have them longer if you take care of them properly. Now if you compare that to your current disposable pads at say $6.00 per package multiplied by 5 years that's $360.00. I did notice that once I switched to cloth, I didn't have as long of periods, I had less cramping and didn't feel like I had sand paper between my legs by the 5th day!:) I used this pattern for my panty liners. For my larger pads I used another pattern that I found on the net for free. I just can't seem to find where I found it. The only thing that I would advise you to do differently is to is to NOT sewn the middle part of the pad through the pul as if you have a really heavy period than it can leak through the holes (from the needle). What I would do next time is sew the middle part to the front before sewing the pieces together then layering as follows: pul, bottom and front facing each other. Sew all the way around leaving enough of a gap to turn the pad right side out. Then top-stitch all the way around the pad thus closing the turning point. This method will take a lot more practice to master as this pattern is rounded in a lot of spots, but it makes for a much better, leakfree pad! I will make a tutorial in the future to show you what I mean.

Newborn Diapers: Free Pattern

A bunch of Newborn diapers using Darling Diapers Newborn pattern (which is free). All that is left to do is apply the snaps to them! If you are interested in making diapers I strongly suggest purchasing the Darling diapers pattern as it encompasses a variety of sizes and has very detail instructions. It's very easy to sew up and looks great when finished. If you are interested in sewing cloth diapers I also suggest becoming a member of Diaper Divas. It's a great place for researching the types of fabrics etc that you can using in cloth diapering. Just be forewarned, sewing cloth diapers can become additive! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Putting elastic into Katrina's Quick Soaker Pattern

I love the quick soaker pattern that Katrina made found here. Best of all it's free! This pattern turns out so nicely! I noticed that some people don't like that it doesn't have elastic. I have made a few minor changes in order to allow for an adjustable elastic waist and legs. I won't lie to you though. It's not the most professional looking way to do it (esthetically that is), if anything it's the most practical way to allow for easy access to change the elastic for sizing. {Please note that you do not have to finish off the seams if using fleece as it doesn't fray}

Supplies needed:
Katrina's soaker and pattern pieces
Elastic (measured to your child's waist and leg circumference) (I used 1/2" elastic) {you can also use buttonhole elastic and sew a button to the opposite end of the elastic}
Marking pen
seam ripper
two safety pins

  1. Cut out all of your pieces according to the pattern. You should have the main body panel, two leg bands, a waist band and if desired the soaker piece.
  2. Sew the soaker piece to the body panel.
  3. Take your waist bands and leg bands and sew a buttonhole horizontally on all three of them approximately 1/4 of the way up. Make the buttonhole large enough to allow for your elastic to go through. (Below is a picture of what I mean) . then use your seam ripper to open up the buttonhole.
  4. Serge all of your pieces (main body panel, waist band and leg bands.) You only have to serge the sides as shown as the other seam will be hidden. If your serger with go through 3 layers of fleece you can eliminate this step.
  5. Sew your seams on the main body panel, waist bands and leg bands the exact way as shown.
  6. Fold down the waistband and leg cuffs with wrong sides together so that the serged edges of the seam are hidden. {make sure that this inside area will allow for elastic otherwise you didn't sew it correctly}Turn the main body panel right side out.
  7. Put the main body panel inside the waistband with all raw/serged edges together. {this is where you can use your serger to serge through all three layers if desired} Sew the waistband to the soaker body. *****Make sure that the buttonhole that you made, will be on the inside of the soaker **** (NOTE how the red buttonhole is right beside the foot of my sewing machine, thus making the right sides of the bands touching the right side of the main body panel) Repeat this for leg bands.
  8. Now measure your child's waist and cut your elastic to size. (Depending on the stretch of the elastic you may want to go a bit smaller. Just keep in mind that you will be overlapping each end about an inch, so it will reduce the amount of elastic)
  9. On the elastic pieces, mark an x on the right side of it and then on the left side mark an x on the underside. The reason being that you want your elastic to lay flat when sewn.
  10. Attach a safety pin to both sides of the elastic and then thread your elastic through the waist. (repeat this for each of the leg bands as well)
  11. Make sure that you elastic will lay flat once sewn. Match up the x's so that they touch each other {so that the x's are kissing each other} and so that they overlap each other about1 inch. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew the pieces of elastic together. Reverse the zig-zag stitch a couple of times. I put in 2-3 vertical zig-zags to make sure it won't come apart Repeat this step for the leg bands.
  12. Marvel at your creation and thank Katrina for this wonderful pattern!

The great thing about this way is that you can adjust the waist/legs if needed by simply taking out the old elastic and putting in a shorter/longer piece. To use the buttonhole elastic inside of the one pictured, sew a button to one side of the elastic for each the legs and waistband. Insert the elastic and do up the button through the buttonhole.

I haven't actually tried this method (buttonhole elastic) but it could leave a button imprint into your child's waist or legs if done up to tightly. If you do try this method please let me know who it turns out!