upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

There are an awful lot of t-shirt upcycle/t-shirt surgery posts online, and it’s wonderful. Today, I wanted to put together something that gets to the heart of the process – an overview, as well as a few couture details.

I’ve known several stitchers who got started with t-shirt recons. After a few successes they’d run into frustrations – popped stitches, wonky shirts, puckered neckbands, shirts that didn’t quite feel right. I want to help with that.

So in that spirit, this last week I sewed up seven t-shirts in a row – modeled here by my thirteen year old son. Every original shirt was fifty cents (or free!) and all of them were men’s L or XL, with no undersleeve, stripe, or hood detail. Both the resizing and colorblocking and hood details were added by my magic!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

And here we get into the main advantage of t-shirt upcycles – perfect fit. Whether you are sewing for yourself or a client, you can create a master pattern that can be used time and time again. My model here is tall and slim – a shirt that fits his girth is usually about three to four inches too short. I have a master pattern for these seven garments: the Flashback Skinny T by Made by Rae with some extra added length. I’ve also drafted several extra details – colorblocking, stripe detail, and cowl hood, to use at will. Below, I’ll talk a bit about when and how to add these details.

So let’s get this post started!

1. Learn knit fabric 101.

Knit fabrics (think: “stretchy” garments like t-shirts, hoodies, and leggings) are a whole discipline separate from woven fabrics (think: what a quilt is made of). T-shirts are almost always made of knit fabrics – and every t-shirt I’m talking about here is made with a knit with 2- or 4-way stretch (more about that in a moment).

What’s the difference between a knit and a woven? Mostly, the difference is in the structure of the fabric’s weave. Knit fabrics are made in a series of interlaced loops while woven fabrics are made with warp and weft fibers on a loom.

In general, knit fabrics will drape well, while woven fabrics may drape, or they may be crisp. Knit fabrics are associated with being stretchy, and woven fabrics are not.

That said, there are exceptions. Some knit fabrics can have zero stretch – and some woven fabrics can stretch.

But when it comes to t-shirts, almost every t-shirt you find will be a cotton, or a cotton polyester blend. You may see some bamboo out there, too. Compression/sportswear shirts include fibers like spandex (also called elastane or lycra) and nylon, but for graphic t-shirts you are likely to see cotton, poly, a blend, with maybe a bit of spandex for stretch and recovery. Graphic t-shirts are constructed in a knit weave that stretches either 1-way (across the crosswise grain), 2-way (across both the lengthwise and crosswise grain), or 4-way (across both directions, with excellent snapback and recovery). Don’t get too fixated on 1-, 2-, or 4-way as, sadly, this language isn’t really standardized. Even fabric stores won’t be clear about the stretch of their fabrics and sometimes you have to order swatches or write an email to ask!

Moving on.

How do knits handle, to sew on a machine? It’s a mixed bag. I love them – but there is a learning curve, and beginners may find them frustrating. On the plus side, the fabrics’ stretch and drape mean that you are more likely to get a fit you like, than when making a fitted garment from woven fabrics.

Some people love sewing with knits; others are scared to do so. I’ve written several tutorials on the topic of knits, including more than one introductory post where I put forth some great resources. I’ve also archived the Timmel lessons (and posted them with permission here). Feel free to read up – and you can always ask questions here on this post.

There are several different technologies that will help you work with knit fabrics, and some of these bits of tech are expensive indeed. I could write a chapter or two on that alone! But without going into detail I’ve already belabored before, at bare minimum you will want a sewing machine that can form a good zig-zag stitchan appropriate needle (a ballpoint is a good start, in the right size), and a polyester or poly-based thread. When you’re ready to upgrade your kit (and in order of expense) you may look into stretch or wooly nylon thread, a serger (for either seams or seam-finishes), and a coverstitch machine (for fast and  professional hems and/or decorative seams).

Shown below: poly thread in the needle, wooly nylon (for more stretch in the seam) in the bobbin:

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

But listen – don’t worry if you don’t have any fancy gear. You can sew t-shirts on old machines – every shirt you’re seeing here was sewn on machines no younger than a 70s vintage! All except the goldenrod shirt were sewn with regular poly thread.

2. Find the shirt grain!

Just a few days ago I had a student over, and I demonstrated the grain of fabric on the quilting cotton we were working with. While she has sewn a bit over the years, she had no concept of fabric grain. The grain of a fabric is so important it would be impossible to cover all of the implications here. Let me do a bit of bare-bones illustration.

Almost every fabric has a grain (the most notable exclusion is felt, which like paper is made of fibers pressed and dried in a random orientation). In general, even though woven and knit fabrics are different, their grain is similarly named. If you are looking at fabric coming off the bolt at the fabric store, below is a demonstration of the crosswise grain, lengthwise grain, and bias grain – as well as the selvage edges which are important in understanding fabric mechanics. (We won’t be talking about the bias grain in this post – another important and awesome topic for another time!)

Fabric Grain, SelvageIn general (except for bias-cut garments), you want the pieces of a garment to hang off the body such that the lengthwise grain of each piece in the garment, is perpendicular to the surface of the planet! Put another way, the lengthwise grain should run corresponding to gravity. The centerline of your t-shirt, from neckline to hem, should run right along the lengthwise grain. This helps the garment hang and perform well.

So how does this pertain to t-shirts, and especially t-shirt upcycling? It is relevant when it comes to selecting a suitable shirt to work with.

A t-shirt is not going to come with selvage edge for clues as to grain – but it is very easy to see the grain of a t-shirt. The lengthwise grain looks like long channels and are quite beautiful: here is a close-up of a (gorgeous) monster hoodie I made a few years ago. You can see the grain of the knit fabric quite easily in the striped hood lining:

Monster Hoodie For Megan

In general, a knit fabric and therefore a t-shirt will stretch more across the grain than along the length of it. This is no coincidence: this is why and how the knit stitch was developed, to provide clothing that moved with our bodies.

Oops! I got back into fabric theory! Back to t-shirts.

When you get your t-shirt, you are not going to have a lot of options! Your motif will be printed on the shirt, and if you want the motif centered and to take advantage of the fabric in the t-shirt, you are not going to get to be picky about the grain. You have to trust the shirt is printed more or less on the grain.

So are (ready-to-wear, likely sweatshop-produced) t-shirts printed properly on-grain? In my experience, none of them have come close to my results in my studio. But most are decent enough. About 40% of t-shirts in a thrift store have good grain. Some are abominable and unless you are DYING over how lovely the print is, leave them be. If you select a shirt with very poor grain, the final result may hang crooked, or a side seam may creep alongside the body.

There is one other consideration for grain. If you are going to be using the body of the shirt to cut your neckband (like the Treasure Island shirt three photos down), or cuffs, you are going to want to cut these bands on the crossgrain. For that reason, a shirt with a good grain is a better choice than one that is sub-standard.

Shown below: finding the grain and lining up logo placement. The shirt is folded in half, the grain straightened, and carefully smoothed before cutting my front pattern piece on the fold.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

3. Think about (vertical) logo placement.

One of the biggest issues with re-sizing t-shirts, is you often end up with a skewed logo. Many examples you will see online either feature a printed motif right at the neckline, or even partially-truncated entirely:

Treasure Island T-Shirt Redesign

This factor is complicated if you want to transition your t-shirt to a deep neckline – say a scoop or v-neck. When you lay your front pattern piece on the vertically-folded t-shirt, the shoulders will extend up and usually intersect the original neckline. Things get crowded very fast!

There are many ways to get around this. You can colorblock your t-shirt, as I’ve done in this example:

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

You can also make a cold-shoulder top, using a band of identical, similar, or contrasting colors. You can add a saddle-shoulder effect (below and – yes, this is the same child!), which does wonderfully at dropping that logo lower on the shirt body. These solutions involve a bit of time and a bit of pattern-drafting knowledge – available with a Google search, and patience on your part. But they are considerations if you want a good-looking logo instead of one chopped to pieces.

Askance4. “It’s gonna get weird… TWO t-shirts!”

Sometimes you find some cute t-shirts at the thrift store – and there are multiples! Or perhaps you find one awesome shirt – but with some searching you can find another that is made from a similar fabric. This offers you up some awesome possibilities – namely, hoods, undersleeves, cuffs, or saddle/raglan sleeve details!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Below: the original shirt. Notice that even as big as it was, I still needed to use another shirt for the undersleeves, cuffs, and cowl hood! 

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Note that you do not have to have a fabric that is exactly like the original t-shirt, to use it. In general you want a similar weight and a similar degree of stretch. You can grab up cheap shirts that are plain, wash and dismantle them while watching telly, and store them folded. Not that I do that! (I totally do!)

And this leads me to my next point:

5. Stock up on jersey fabrics.

If you’re a little little upcycle freak like me t-shirt aficionado, you might consider collecting and keeping jersey fabrics in your stash (besides the aforementioned extra t-shirts). These fabrics are inexpensive and wonderful. This will also extend your ability to upcycle for larger bodies.

T-shirts can come in so many fibers, but 100% cotton jersey or 50/50 cotton/poly in mid- to heavyweight are the most common t-shirt blends and weights. Remember – always prewash your new yardage before combining it with a thrifted t-shirt. The thrifted t-shirt has likely been washed many times. Personally, I’d pre-wash the t-shirt itself, too.

The strips of t-shirt and jersey you stockpile like a post-apocalyptic hoarder collect can be used for collars, cuffs, stripes (as seen below on this upcycle), and other colorblocked or appliquéd detailing. When I have enough high-quality scraps from a t-shirt upcycle, I take a few moments and cut strips with my rotary cutter, to use on the next shirts I mess with.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Shown below: a Mario shirt re-sized and amended with undersleeves in a soft periwinkle interlock.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

5. Re-use & Co-opt

These days I almost always reuse the neckband, sleeve hems, and (when possible) shirt hems of the original. This makes for an extremely fast sew-up. It took me much longer to write this post, than it did for me to make any one of these t-shirts, for instance.

Let’s talk about those sleeve and shirt hems. With careful pinning and tidying of your thread tails, the end result looks great. And while you may not be able to use the shirt’s hem for your resize, you can almost always use the sleeve hems if you’re making a short-sleeved shirt, as you simply fold the sleeve and cut as low on the sleeve as you need do . Shown below: a photo tutorial of how I tidy up the thread tails (in this case, a serge-finish) to keep these sleeve hems looking good.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Gorgeous!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

So as for the neckband: in the seven new shirts shown at the top of this post, I re-used the neckband for all the shirts except the cowl hoodie and the GBO shirt.

When removing the neckband, oftentimes you can just tear it out. Be careful here, however. If you aren’t rather nimble-fingered and experience you can end up tearing right into the shirt. When in doubt, carefully cut this neckline out and use a seam ripper to clear the ribbing! Go ahead and get all those little bits of thread off the neckband before applying.

The new neckband will likely be too large for your new raw neckline – but that all depends on the neckline you have cut and selected. The ribbing of neckbands usually stretches well with good recovery – a good rule of thumb is you want a neckband about 80% of the neckline it is affixed to. After I have my neckband I usually pin the center front of the shirt to the band, stretch firmly and evenly, and pin toward the center-back. At that point I will get a good feel for how much of the original band to cut off. I then cut the neckband to size at the center back, sew the center-back seam of the band, finger-press this seam open, re-pin, and sew up. It is incredibly fast!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)


Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

 

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

I like to give a steam press of this neckline, on a tailor’s ham. Some people finish this neckline with topstitching but I generally omit that.

If you can’t use the original shirt’s neckband or don’t want to, you can use a contrast ribbing, a self-fabric neckband. Tthe Timmel lessons I mentioned above, go into detail here on neckline finishes.

6. Finally: make it your own!

Phee + T-Shirt Surgery, 6
Seriously? the possibilities for t-shirt upcycle are endless! An inexpensive and unique screenprinted patch (below), stripey sleeves and gathered necklines (above), slot seams, asymmetrical detailing, double-hoods (with or without ears!), cold-shoulder tops – after you do a few t-shirts you are going to find a lot of inspiration out in the world and eventually from your own little braincase! And let me tell you – it’s pretty special to go out and about and have people stop you to say – “I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” 

Close up of Siamese twin patch

Sparrow patch closeup.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

tutorial: creating a weighted blanket

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Many have heard of a weighted blanket; some even know their use by occupational therapists and other health professionals as a deep pressure methodology to assist patients with anxiety or sensory disorders, and those on the autism spectrum. You can find these online in both small boutiqes and big box shops, ranging from 2 pounds and 24″ square (at about a $100 price point) to a king-size version at about 30 pounts to up to $500. Last December a friend asked me to make one for her child; we selected two flannels the child liked, and purchased pellets, and she graciously let me hold onto the finished result long enough to write this tutorial up!

Making one of these blankets is slightly easier than a comforter. There were a handful of tutorials online but I thought I’d provide my own flavor, making it similar to a quilt with a bound edge (as opposed to a turned-and-sewn envelope-style comforter). Making your own will cost about 40% of what it would cost to purchase one; you can also buy the exact fabrics you like, and the method I’m showing here uses the prettiness and precision of traditional quilt binding, and very exact channels.

For a baby size blanket, roughly 36″ by 48″:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

1 3/4 yards each of flannel (43″)
4 pounds pellets
1/4 yard quilting cotton (43″) for binding

For those who enjoy a summary, here it is:

We are going to mark all our channel lines first. Then we will affix the two layers wrong-sides together, and sewing along three edges with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving one long edge open. We will then sew all our vertical channels, and fill each chamber one by one – sewing the next horizontal channel line after each row is filled. Then we’ll bind the quilt, and be done! Below is a diagram (click on it to enlarge):

Weighted Blanket Diagram (36" by 48", 4 pounds)

Prewash all fabrics; cut your flannels to the exact size; in this case, 36″ by 48″. Keep in mind if you use a flannel like I did, it might shrink quite a bit. This is why although fabrics are 44″ wide, I have provided a conservatively-size quilt:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Mark the channel lines first; this will ensure a more accurate finished product. For this quilt, I used 6″ squares:Weighted Blanket Tutorial
Weighted Blanket Tutorial

You can barely see the lines, but that’s okay! They only need to last, and be seen, for a short time. Obviously, don’t handle the quilt a lot or let your cat sleep on it, while you’re putting it together!

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Time to pin, and stitch around three edges (missing one long edge), at 1/4″. Remember, you need a short stitch that will not allow any of your pellet’s to escape:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Pellet time! Already!

So, it is important each channel has the same amount of pellets. This is quite easy to accomplish, but depends on the total weight of your pellets. You can divide your pellets by weight, or in my case, by volume. At four pounds, it turned out this corresponded to 1/4 cup pellet per chamber.

But there’s a little more to it than that. It’s easy (especially when working by volumes) to use too little or two much per scoop. I found it advantageous to first separate the entitreity of the pellets into the eight vertical sections. As I worked with each, I would then split each one of these volumes into six, working with one vertical section at a time. This made sure I didn’t end up short, or with too much pelletude at the end of the project!

Weighted Blanket Tutorial
Weighted Blanket Tutorial

For each chamber volume, I used my pimento jar supply. I make a LOT of vegan nacho cheese so I have a billion of these pimento jars. Have I shared my nacho cheese recipe with y’all yet? Don’t worry. I will.

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Okay! Time to sew up those vertical chamber lines. Use a walking foot if you have one. Flannel is lovely as it all holds together beautifully while you sew:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial
Weighted Blanket Tutorial
Once you have your vertical chambers, it is time to fill them! This is kind of a soothing process. Make sure when you pour the pellets into each section, to insert your arm and gently make sure each pellet settles into the lowest chamber. Flannel especially will try to “grab” pellets’. Don’t worry; this obviously gets easier as you move up the quilt.Weighted Blanket Tutorial

After each row is finished, carefully stitch it closed! I say “carefully” as you want to make sure not to strike a pellet with your needle, as you sew.That would probably make a loud, unpleasant noise. I don’t know, because I was careful! By the time you get to the penultimate row, the pellets are close enough to the open edge they may try to spill out – so take care putting the quilt on the machine. After you’ve finished all the chambers, go ahead and stitch the quilt closed!

Binding time! I use the same exact methodology as this utorial, posted on Sewn Into The Fabric. I first cut my strips (2 1/4″), piece, and press them wrong-sides together:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

I then pin at the edge in the middle of one of the sides, leaving a long tail free before stitching:
Weighted Blanket Tutorial
Weighted Blanket Tutorial

(Shown below: the first seam in the binding, atop the original 1/4″ seam:
Weighted Blanket TutorialCorners! Sew to that 1/4″ from the edge, and backstitch…

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Fold the binding strip completely perpendicular to itself:

Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Fold back down – again, forming a right-angle:Weighted Blanket TutorialAnd stitch, this time starting at the raw edge (shown below, underside):


Weighted Blanket Tutorial

After your binding is finished, you can sit and hand-apply the folded edge! (I favor a whip stitch:)
Weighted Blanket Tutorial

Gorgeous and snuggly!
Weighted Blanket Tutorial

hoodie bravado

what’s on the happs

Welp, peeps. I have had a BUGGER of a time with my sew-alongs lately. Almost everything that can go wrong, has been going wrong – short of my blog somehow catching fire and burning down. 

That said, I am growing increasingly sure I want to keep offering these online sewing lessons! To that end, now is the time to give me any input for future sew-alongs. In this post, I offer a preview of some garments I’m planning on leading us through in the near future. Remember, in about two weeks we’ll begin the Tea & Crumpet sew-along. I hope you’ll be joining us!

In the meantime, for May: the Elevation hoodie from New Horizons Designs (formerly Terra’s Treasures). Remember the P51 Flyer jacket I made Nels, in waxed canvas? Yup, that was one of Terra’s! She has a gorgeous eye for design!

Do I even need to explain why I love this hoodie? No, no I don’t. First of all, hoodies are awesome and I might fight you if you disagree.

hoodie bravado
But also: I mean, this hoodie? Check it!

Elevation Hoodie from Terra's Treasures
Colorblocked – very on-trend, but always awesome. An inset kangaroo pocket with welt openings. A hood overlap and drawstring. I mean – COME ON!  The pattern comes in a children’s version (size 6/12mos. to 16), a women’s version (bust 31″ to 51 1/2″), and will soon debut a men’s version!

Now, the Elevation hoodie’s instructions are so wonderful that, frankly, I can’t see room for improvement. But I can put the piece together with volumnous up-close photos, give you my special tips on working with knit fabrics, and showcase a lovely bamboo french terry from Nature’s Fabrics.

For June – provided no mishaps – I gotta make a summer dress in double-gauze. Specifically, this lovely fit-and-flare from Bootstrap. The pattern is $1.49. 

Custom-Fit Sewing Patterns - Fit And Flare Dress With Sleeves
For a custom-fit pattern. Yeah. 

Happy Cry
Double-gauze is a wonderful fabric; it handles well, as it is cotton, and has some body and not so much drape. The fabric instantly delivers an elegance and vintage/heirloom appeal that is going to turn heads. There are so many places to get double-gauze, and I’ll be talking more about this in the set-up post for the dress sew-along. But some sources to get you way too excited interested: imagine gnats, fabric.com, fabricworm, Harts Fabric, and various Etsy shops (for your timeline, watch for where they ship from!). A sneak-peak of my first sample:

June Sew-Along Sneak Peak
***

So for the mid-to-late summer? Well – you tell me! I’m pretty sure I’d like to make up a pair of stretch jeans: again, from a custom-fit pattern metric. I could always lead us through a swimsuit for summer – find me a good pattern! One of these days I’d like to showcase on of Hot Patterns‘ garments – they have a wonderful size range, and ardent fans – and of course, I adore Jalie patterns more than a body should. In fact, there are so many good patterns out there it’s hard to narrow it down!

So that’s it – for the time being. I’m open to suggestions as always!

Kitten Sewing

More About Plaids

more about plaids!

More About Plaids
First: if you are just finding my site, please do join up with me at Bespoke/Hogaboom. This is the best way to reach me, as comments close on old blog posts!

So! Today one of my online sewing groups is finishing up a shirtmaking module as helmed by David Page Coffin, shirtmaker extraordinaire and author of two shirt construction books (here, and here).  I finished my version of a menswear shirt several days ago, and yesterday took a few pictures (OK more like a dozen). I also wanted to drop a few plaid-sewing tips here as I find myself more and more excited about working with plaids; you can read a bit more about the pattern in my pattern review.

More About Plaids

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winter pajama sew-along: step 3

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This post is the final entry in our four sew-along posts for footed pajamas! You are almost finished! If your pajamas are done before the 31st this year, you have the opportunity to collect a prize package! (Read more here!)

Let’s recap. Our first post concerned supplies and preparation, and our second post dealt with the first step of the pattern. For our third post, we applied the zipper to the center front. 

Today, we’re finishing up with the collar. It’s a kind of uneven pacing, I’ll admit it – but I like to stick to the Jalie instructions for minimum confusion.

So today? We get to finish our super-snuggly jam-jams!

Snuggle!

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winter pajama sew-along: step 2

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This post is the third in a total entry of four sew-along posts for footed pajamas! Our first post concerned supplies and preparation, and our second post dealt with the first step of the pattern. Remember, this sew-along finishes its first round on the last day of December 2015 – and I have a very lovely prize challenge for one completist! (Read more in my first comment!)

Today, we’re applying the zipper to the center front. I not only do it a little differently than the pattern, I have a few alternate suggestions.

Please read ahead before stitching:

Winter Pajama Sew-Along Badge

winter pajama sew-along: step 1

Today’s the day!

We start our
Winter Pajama Sew-Along Badge

And – as an early Christmas present – I’m offering all sew-along posts at once! I am also offering a prize package to anyone who completes the sew-along this year. Please read my first comment, for more information.

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This post is the second in a total entry of four sew-along posts for footed pajamas! Our first post concerned supplies and preparation. If you want automatic updates on the sew-along, you must send your email address to kelly@hogaboom.org.

OK? Let’s go!

Winter Pajama Sew-Along Badge

winter pajama sew-along: supplies

The cold weather suddenly slammed us and it became glaringly obvious:

TIME TO SEW UP SO MANY COZY PAJAMAS!!
Winter Pajama Sew-Along Badge

AWWWW YISSSSS!

Very Cozy
This is a quick sew-along, for those of you who’d like to have some special crafting time during the holiday. We start sewing December 1st and will be done by the 15th. I am offering a prize package upon completion! (Read more in this post’s first comment!)

And this is super-important:

For the best updates on the sew-along and the prize challenge, you must send your email address to kelly@hogaboom.org.

OK? OK!

The supply list is short and sweet. We need the following: your pattern, fabrics, a zipper, 1/2 yard of 3/8″ elastic, thread, and appropriate needle. Read on:

Winter Pajama Sew-Along
From top left, clockwise: Jalie pattern, Classic Footed Pajama pattern (rolled), velour fabric in a bright green-yellow, Tough-Tek non-slip fabric, thread, 3/8″ elastic, and a dress-weight zipper.

Pattern:
I am supporting two patterns for this sew-along: Jalie 3244 (size 12 months to women’s 22) and Peek-a-boo’s Classic Footed Pajama (for size newborn to 12 years). I will be demonstrating the center zip application, not the inseam zipper application.

You can buy either pattern, or both, depending on which size range appeals to you. I will be following Jalie’s instructions and diagrams for construction (along with, of course, my personal preferences and improvements); the Peek-a-boo pattern will be used for the pattern blocks for smaller sizes.

Yes, I can’t get enough of Jalie! Do I sew with other patterns? Oh heck, yes. Have I met another pattern company with as large a size range? Not yet! And since I like sew-alongs to be as inclusive as possible, I favor large size ranges. Jalie has it all, though. Their patterns are stylish, timeless, well-drafted, and come with excellent instructions and line drawings. This pattern also comes in a printed version, or a PDF version. They can’t be beat! (NAYY, I am just a huge fan!)

OK. So:

Fabrics:
We need three fabrics: the main fabric, ribbing, and a non-skid fabric for the footie soles.

So first: we are sewing with knits again! If you aren’t familiar with sewing with knits, or if you have had bad experiences, I recommend taking a deep breath, getting a cup of tea, and taking a couple minutes to read through my new-to-knits post, as well as – if you like – my other knit tutorials. Sewing with knit fabrics is not rocket science. But there are a few things to keep in mind – and trust me, the more experienced you get, the more you’ll love these fabrics!

The pattern recommends a main fabric with 30% stretch across the grain, and some mechanical stretch lengthwise. This first requirement is simple to determine: grip two points on the crossgrain of the fabric five inches apart, and stretch. The fabric will need to stretch to at least six and a half inches comfortably. For the length, you merely need the fabric to stretch a little. Most knits will. If the knit has good stretch and good recovery (it doesn’t “bag out” over the day as you wear it) – you have hit the jackpot for optimum PJ comfort!

For fabric yardage, consult the back of the pattern. Measure your intended client at their chest and inseam. Determine their size based on each – and use the largest yardage requirement between the two. I will be discussing how to grade the pattern when your chest and inseam are different sizes (in other words if you’re sewing for someone lanky or husky, or whatever term you like), during my first sewing post. Remember though – this is a relaxed-fit pajama, we are not fitting for a red carpet gown!

Jalie 3244: Step 1

So on the back of the pattern,  you will find the yardage of 59″ wide knit fabric you need to purchase for your size, as well as ribbing requirements for the sleeve cuff and, if you are skipping the footed part of the PJ, the ankle-cuff. In my case, I am using self-fabric for the sleeve ribbing. Self-fabric is a softer option with a less firm “grip” than most ribbings.

Finally – besides the main fabric(s) and the ribbing (if you’re using ribbing), you need a non-slip fabric. There are many different non-skid fabrics out there – and you might find some in surprising places. For example, you can find a red and black version that is a favorite of Émilie from Jalie Patterns at PajamaCity.com; FeatheredNest97030 on Etsy carries a black, swiss-dot version. Softer versions make a better looking curved foot seam; heavy duty versions will last longer.

After some shopping and review, I chose the ToughTek fabric from Two of A Kind Supplies on Etsy. To that end – yay! – shop owner Kate has generously donated a 10% off coupon for her shop, for those participating in the sew-along. You need to email me if you’d like this coupon.

Zipper:
The back of the pattern also lists the size of zipper you need at the lower right in a table. I purchased mine from Zipperstop using my super-awesome color card.

Elastic:
Elastic is used in the back of the foot, for the footed version. Anything between 1/4″ to 1/2″ will work fine, but 3/8″ is ideal.

Thread:
I use a cotton-wrapped poly for most my apparel. I tend to favor Mettler, but I also buy whatever is available to me when I’m in a pinch. Bargain-basement or old thread is a no-no, but Coats & Clark is fine – this is what I’m using here. I will be zig-zag finishing my seams.

Needles:
The correct needle depends on the fabric you are using. In general, a jersey or ballpoint needle is best for natural-based stretch fabrics (wool, cotton, linen, etc), while a stretch needle will work well for synthetic stretch fabrics.

Notions:
You will need a few other supplies: a tracing medium, interfacing and stabilizer.

You can trace with almost anything, and we could debate the merits for quite some time. You can use Swedish Tracing Medium, tissue paper, project paper from the copy supply store, newsprint, or – my personal favorite – sew-in interfacing.

I will be interfacing the seam allowance where the zipper is installed, as well as the cuffs.

I never sew knits without several kinds of washaway stabilizer. If nothing else, I use them to start and finish construction seams (I will be demonstrating the process). 

What are washaway stabilizers? They are simply non-woven, non-knit products that stabilize either under or on top of the work, while we stitch, then are washed out with water and gentle agitation (or laundering). They make for better results on knits, and even the oldest, most antiquated zig zag sewing machine can sew knits easily using these methods. When it comes to washaway stabilizers, I always have a sticky and non-stick version on hand. I use Solvy’s Fabri Sticky Solvy (in a roll as well as printable sheets), and (for non-stick) Vilene plus. Bonus: the non-stick version can even be dissolved and painted on knit seam allowances to make for stable sewing – far cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray.

So – yeah. Pretty cool, huh?

Our sew-along starts December 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. Please read the first comment, if you think you’ll be done sewing your pajamas by December 31st, and if you’d like to be entered in the prize challenge – lovely fabric goodies from Mood Fabrics, Nature’s Fabrics, and Jalie!

For those of you who celebrate the holidays – this time of year can get pretty overwhelming. I am wishing you a serene, lovely few months!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge

jalie hoodie sew-along post 6: Step 6 assembly

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

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Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! Today, we have our final post. I have so appreciated those of you who’ve commented, emailed, and posted to the Facebook group. I hope you’ve had as good a time as I have!

So: onward and upward! We’re installing our inner collar, and finishing up!

sunshine

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jalie hoodie sew-along post 5: Step 5 assembly

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

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sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
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Hey there stitchers! Time to get back to hoodie-stitching! And before we start: here’s my second version of the Jalie hoodie:

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I made this beauty as a cosplay piece for my daughter, at her request. Based off the iconic hoodie of emo, surly Robbie from “Gravity Falls”:

Robbie, "Gravity Falls"
So: onward and upward! We’re assembling our hood today!

Excited!