Sewing

My New “Baby”

Things have been awful quiet around here, I know.  I hope you all know that it’s not because I’ve forgotten you!  I’ve simply been immersed, well over my head, in getting my new business off the ground.

Edesigns Activewear

The sewing and pattern making portion of the business is, of course, rather old hat.  But that doesn’t mean that testing the patterns, grading them to fit people other than me and making sure they can hold up to the rigors of heavy use isn’t a time intensive process.  And things like appropriately pricing my work, figuring out how to distribute and market it and which task should be prioritized are all brand new to me.  Plus, my assistants are always wanting to take hammock breaks.

The Facebook page for the company is waking up and filling out and I’ve just launched a company blog for those who are curious about the how and why of each garment’s design.  I’d love it if you’d stop by, check them out and say hi!

I miss posting here regularly!  I finally finished the fancy fabric version of M6442 and owe you guys a post about it…but as you might guess with finishing a wool coat in high summer, I haven’t exactly been itching to put it on to take photos.  Lots of other projects have been dropped by the wayside, or have gone undocumented in the wake of the budding spandex empire, but, hopefully, once things get underway and I have a better idea of what’s required to make the machine go (heh…yes, I realize I’M the machine) I’ll be able to get back to my crafty ways!

Sewing that Stretches- A Prototype for Leggings

Edesigns Activewear is slowly but surely getting off the ground, and leggings are next on the list of items to be added.  Most of the spandex items I’ve designed so far have wound up being too large for me on the first try, and I’ve had to take the patterns in to accomplish a true extra small.  The leggings?  Not so much.

Sewing the Stretches- Prototype for Leggings

…for whatever reason, these barely fit me, so I’ll need to add a half inch or so to the pattern width to make them more comfortable.  Not sure if I simply overcompensated because the other pieces have all been too big or what, but lets just say that it’s a good thing I don’t breathe through my knees!  I’ll be testing these out at class tonight and making any further modifications to the pattern I find I need when I get home.

If you’re a gymnast, an aerialist, an acrobat, a yogi or a dancer who is interested in any of the spandex pieces I’ve been making lately, you’re in luck.  I’m planning to list some on eBay before too terribly long to get a gauge of what kind of interest there is online, so you’ll have an opportunity to purchase them.  If you have a specific request for fabrics or sizing, please don’t hesitate to hop over to the Facebook page and send me a message!

Summer Clothing- “So THAT’S why there has been so much laundry lately.”

G’s wardrobe was seeming a little thin this summer.  Once we hit the stretches of consistent heat, it seemed like he never had enough shorts to make it more than a few days.  As a result, I sewed him up a couple of new pairs.

Summer Clothing-"So that's why there's so much laundry"

faeshorts

That second pair was made for a performance we went to at the aerial gym that was “Midsummer” themed, and that impish grin is awful appropriate, since, after I finished the shorts, I found that he had MORE than enough shorts, and the reason he never seemed to have any was because he was changing 3-4 times a day…every time he so much as dripped a bit of water on himself.  Oy.

R also got an outfit for the performance:

Summer Clothing-"So that's why there's so much laundry"

I used the same basic idea I did with the tshirt for G’s Batman pajamas and clipped out some images from a sample of Spoonflower’s new microsuede before stitching around the edges.

G’s shorts were both made with the basic sleep short pattern, but I added patch pockets, trimmed with bias tape made from leftover Batman fabric, to the blue pair after he expressed disappointment the green shorts were pocket free.

He’s a tyrant, that G.

 

Edesigns Activewear is Launched!

The spandex line is officially off the ground as of a few days ago.  I’m still sewing like a mad woman to make sure I keep my inventory up and have a couple of pieces in reserve, but the first few items have sold and hopefully more will go the same way once the next session starts at the gym.

I’m trying to decide if I want to share finished spandex projects with you guys here.  I know it’s kind of a niche market, and it’s probably going to be a lot of the same thing over and over again in different fabrics…so probably not.  If it’s something you really are interested in though, feel free to hop over to the FB page I’ve created for the line, I update with a picture every time I create a new piece!

Batman Pajama Set

Not sure what is in the air lately (other than the obvious answer of “lots of pollen”) but I’ve been cranking projects out left and right the past few weeks.

Hot weather showed up here in Michigan out of the blue, as it tends to do, and it became quickly apparent that G didn’t have any warm weather pjs.  He jammed his now 4 year old body into his old, knit cotton pjs, but, as hilarious as the results were, they didn’t look terribly comfortable.

The next time I was at the fabric store, I was browsing the remnants baskets and found a roll of printed Batman cotton.  G is really more into Ironman and Spiderman at this point, but in his current mindset, any superhero is a good superhero, so I snapped it up and made these:

  First off, if you’re looking at that tshirt and thinking “wow, that looks grungy”, that’s because it is.  I hadn’t really intended to make a matching top to go with the shorts, but in the process of pulling outgrown clothing out of G’s drawers, I happened upon a beat up, ignored, plain white tshirt, and decided that it’d see more love if it had some Batman slapped on it.
  For the shorts, I went back to the pillowcase sleep short pattern that I’d drafted last summer.  To add the panel to the shirt, I cut a square, ironed the unfinished edges to the back and ran a single line of stitching as close to the edge as I possibly could.  It turned out surprisingly well.
  G lovvvves them and I keep having to remind him that, while he can wear them a couple nights in a row if he puts them under his pillow in the morning, they’re pajamas, not out in public clothes.
  As successful as this was, I’m absolutely going to be keeping an eye out for other themed fabric that I can use to update t-shirts for him!

 

The Final Prototypes- Leos and Hot Pants to be For Sale Soon!

  Last night I tested out what I hoped would be the last set of prototypes before I start producing garments to sell, and I’m pleased to announce, they made the grade!

  Replacing the ties on the shorts with elastic worked perfectly for keeping them from getting caught in things, and, after having it gently pointed out that I’ve been wearing my leos a tad baggy, I was extremely pleased with the new x-small prototype as well.
  I still need to find a fit model for my larger sizes, but at least for producing a small range of sizes, I’m ready to go!  …think I’ll be able to get G to help me sew?

Tags and Spandex Progress

Finishing up the last few things before I can start selling leotards and hot pants for aerial.  Today I designed and printed out tags.  They’re iron on, because lord knows the last thing you want inside a spandex outfit is an itchy tag.

  I’m trying one last prototype for the shorts (hot pants) and a prototype for an x-small leo tonight, and then they should be ready to start making in earnest.
  I was originally designing the shorts with integrated ties to change the length on them, but after having the ties get tangled in the silks quite a few times, I’ve decided that they weren’t a great idea.  So, tonight’s version has replaced the ties with elastic, so the shorts still have the cute, gathered look, without anything to get caught.  That’s the beauty of sewing for yourself…you can modify garments to do exactly what you need!

I’ll share more of the finished products once I’ve gotten everything tested!

Prototypes and Small Projects

I haven’t shared much sewing on the blog lately.  It hasn’t been because I haven’t been sewing, but because I’ve mostly been sewing things you guys have already seen.

My lavender sachets have been hanging out in my closets and pantries for a while now, and were losing their potency, so I decided it was time for some new ones.

  I decided to use some of my fabric.  I had some extra swatches kicking around that hadn’t made it onto my board for Quilt Market for one reason or another (color change, scale change, ect) and decided that rather than keeping them around, rolled up and not seen, I’d make them into pretties for myself.  This is my Iris Dot pattern, in the Frosted colorway.
  The other sewing I’ve been doing has mostly been working on prototypes for aerial clothing.
  I’ve been making a large percentage of my own stuff, and quite a few of the instructors have been enviously eyeing my leos and shorts, and encouraging me to make some for them to buy.
  Now, since I’ve got a lot of other irons in the fire, I may not exactly take off with a full out spandex empire, but I figured that standardizing the patterns I’m using can do nothing but save me time in the future when I go to make my own…and, if I crank out a couple to sell, it’s only a bonus.  So, lots and lots of pairs of tiny shorts to go over leggings, and a couple new leos to work out the exact fit of the leg holes and get the neckline where I want it.
  Lots of sewing, but not much to show off!

How To Sew a Leotard from Scratch (without a leo pattern)

These leotard posts sit on the back burner for a while before I post them.  I finish a coat or a normal top?  I usually photograph it and post it the same week.  This leo has been done for probably a month and a half though.  I need to work on that…especially if the giant pile of spandex I just bought from JoAnns is indicative of what I’m going to be sewing soon…

  I went back and forth on how I was going to photograph it.  It’s a leotard, so part of the functionality is that it attaches between the legs like a bathing suit, so it feels a little bit like cheating taking a picture in it while wearing jeans.  On the other hand, you guys have already seen the bottom of one of the leos I made, and I’m a little concerned it’s not going to be a sewing audience I’m going to wind up drawing if I start posting all sorts of pictures of my thighs on here.  I put off doing the pictures with the excuse to myself that maybe somebody at the gym would take a shot during my aerial class and I could use that…but it just didn’t happen.

So here we are.  Moody shot on a cloudy Saturday, wearing jeans.  We’ll pretend it’s the early 90s and it’s a rocking bodysuit.

If this is looking vaguely familiar, it should.  It’s McCall’s M6288, that I used to make this top not long after R was born.

To turn the pattern into a leotard, I used the same basic process as I did when I was modifying the tank tops into leotards.  Essentially, I left an extra amount of length at the bottom hem (though since this shirt was long to start with, it wasn’t much), created the shirt, and then modified it to fit at the bottom in the same way.  I used an existing leotard to give me an idea of how long I was going to need beyond the pattern’s bottom edge.

This is actually the first project I completed using my cover stitch machine, and I love the results.  I did a lot of detailing using the back of the stitch, to get the flat, sporty seams you see on a ton of workout wear.  Some of the details turned out better than others, but, of course, every machine has a certain level of learning curve involved.

A few notes about this:

I did not use a 4 way stretch knit for this particular leotard.

If you want to make a traditional, going to cling to the body and not-bag-out-anywhere-when-you-move leotard, you want spandex, and you want 4 way stretch.  Fabric with spandex is easy to find.  4 way stretch, not so much.  Give your fabric a good tug along both grains.  Pretty much any knit will stretch fairly well from selvage to selvage, but up and down, towards the raw edge, it may stretch or it may be pretty stable.  For a leotard, you ideally want it to stretch.  But, this was for me, and frankly, I liked the colors, and didn’t really give a damn if it fit exactly to my body 24/7 or not, so long as it kept me from getting silk burns on my lower back.

Keep in mind you’re probably going to have to alter your side seams

I used a contrasting color for binding the sleeves and neckline on this leo, and thought it’d be super cool to run a line of it up the side seam as well.  I had already made quite a few alterations to the side seams when I attached them, but having them there kept me from messing around and tightening up the sleeves after I put them on like I kind of wanted to.  I’m really happy with the side seam bands, but if you decide to add them, make sure you have your fit right before you add them!

Remember that you have to fit through the neck!

Being able to modify any top pattern into a leotard opens up a whole lot of possibilities, but keep in mind, no matter how cool that keyhole detailed neckline might look as a leo, if you can’t fit your hips through it, it won’t be wearable!

These Fish Were Made for…Throwing?

  I’ve had the pattern for these fish pinned for quite a while now.  I printed the pattern out back before Christmas, thinking they would be cute stocking stuffers, and just didn’t get around to it.  It sat on my desk, waiting for me to get to it, through the New Year…through the boys’ birthdays…through Easter even, until I finally decided to make it happen last week.

  The boys had been being especially rambunctious, and I hadn’t been successful in getting much done, and I was looking for an “easy win”.  These worked.

  Being my first attempt, the red fish took me longer to get done, but now that I’ve made a handful of these, each one only takes me about half an hour.  I made the mistake of doing quite a few of the details by hand on that first fish.  Doing all but the “gills” has given me a far better result ultimately, much more quickly.

  The instructions on the blog that the pattern came from are in a language I don’t speak/read…so it was a little bit trial and error figuring out the most efficient way to put them together.  One of the biggest time savers I found was this:

  Unlike, on most stuffed animals, there’s no need to leave a hole in your edge stitching for the filling to be pushed through.  There are holes left from the slits cut for the fins, that you will need to stitch up anyhow, and they work perfectly for filling the fish.  I machine stitch all the way around the edge, hand sew one of the fin slits shut, stuff the fish, and then sew the second fin closed.
  I also decided that while these fish were originally intended as kitchen/store play fish, I reaaaallly wanted them to throw well.  G and I have been driving each other up the wall lately, and I’ve been struggling to find a way to stop unacceptable behavior without things escalating all the way to a “YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM YOUNG MAN” time-out situation every time.  Putting beans in the nose of these and tossing them at him has been a pretty quick and easy solution.  They’re still nice and soft (believe me, I’ve taken several in the face myself), but the “beanbag” weight gives them enough heft that they fly straight and make a satisfyingly loud noise upon impact.
  I’m sure that come a few months from now, the novelty will have worn off, and I’ll have to find a new strategy, but for now, it’s a huge relief that, instead of every minor offense having to be a knock down, drag out battle to the death, I can lob a fish across the room and distract him enough to usually stop the bad behavior.  Plus, it usually results in an awesome game of “feed the zoo seal” that we both enjoy.

  If you have any questions about how I put these together, please let me know!