11.19.2010

Nicole's Kimono Dress Digression #1

Welcome back, Nicole!  She is gracious enough to entertain you while I'm tackling this elastic thread thing...

As with all big projects in my life, whenever I'm getting ready to tackle something big, I end up getting distracted by something else smaller, and more manageable. I like to think of it as warming up for the big task at hand, but really, I'm just digressing. I even do this when I'm cleaning. Big mess in the kitchen? Let's clean the toilet instead! Since I'm still (usually) doing something productive, I don't worry about it too much. So with that caveat, let's look at what I did instead of starting to sew up my kimono dress pieces!

I started with an old t-shirt given to me by my guy when he was in grad school at the University of Michigan. I didn't end up wearing it much because the fit was a little weird, so here's its second repurposed life - baby pants! It seems like we have a ton of babies around - friends expecting their first or second - and it's nice to have gifts at the ready when a baby shower strikes. I've been building up the baby gift stock with help from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing book, which I love. Amy is from the angry chicken blog fame, which I also love (thanks to S+L for telling me about it!). The book is just like Amy's blog - totally down to earth and approachable, and you just want to be Amy's newest best friend. This book helped me to break in my passed-down sewing machine, and I've been using the Simple Bib pattern to whip up some super fast gifts.  Add a pair of knit baby socks and (ta-da!) you have a cute little gift.

  

But I digress, sorry.

Back to the t-shirt. Using baby pants tutorials found on the internets (I used a hybrid of tutorials found here and here), I made a few cuts and had a few legs before I knew it.


Add a sleeve cut off of another old t-shirt to use as a back pocket, and you have the makings of some cute little pants.


Off to sew! I sewed up the sides and bottom of the pocket first and learned quickly what a b**** it is to sew with knits. How did you do make TWO dresses out of this stuff, Sandy?  I should have taken a picture, but was swearing too much. I kept getting these crazy little rat's nests of tangles on the wrong side of my fabric every time I started sewing. I fiddled with the tension, to no avail. I reread the manual that came with the machine (with my grandma's notes - love it!), which didn't help at all. Did I mention that my machine is from the 70s, with a manual written at the same time?


 And while I love the colors used in the manual, it was definitely written for someone who knew how to sew to begin with. So I googled it, and immediately, help was found. I changed my stitch length to 9 stitches per inch, messed again with the tension, and stretched the fabric a bit while I sewed, to allow the seam to stretch, and that pretty much did the trick. It's still not pretty, folks, but it works.

After I wrested the pocket into submission, I sewed it onto the back of one of the pieces, sewed up the legs, and sewed the two pieces together.


I tried to tackle the waistband before bed, but after sewing it all the way around and realizing I accidentally made the waistband too wide and sewed the pocket closed, I gave up and called it a night. The next morning, I added some elastic and conquered the little pants. By taking a picture strategically crooked, you can't even tell that the legs are two different lengths!

 

And there you have it. Our future children are already cringing at the idea of their home-made clothes.

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