Friday, November 30, 2012

A Doll Tent

For Christmas this year, my four kiddies are getting a doll tent to share.  Now, the boys don't really have dolls anymore, but they do have some teddy bears that are pretty precious to them. 

My oldest, Hannah, fell in love with the doll tent in the American Girl catalog.  I fell in love with a picture on Pinterest from this doll tent tutorial:

And my youngest, Sarah, says she wants a "popup fire" for Christmas -- by which she apparently means a felt campfire set that she when sitting on my lap while I was trolling Pinterest.  So it seemed like a perfect intersection of gifts.  Sarah will get a campfire set for Christmas, and everyone will get a tent to share and (hopefully, if I have time) a doll-sized sleeping bag for their favorite little doll or teddy or other lovey.

I used the free pattern from the link above, but I enlarged it to 200% to make it American Girl sized.  The poles are a broken hulahoop, cut in half.  It wasn't quite long enough, so I had to make extenders from pieces of a milk jug (yay for recylcling!).  I hope to cover the poles in some pretty duct tape, maybe, before Christmas.  If I get around to it.

I modified tha pattern so that there would be a tent door flap that would close:

And I also added a screened window in the back panel:

I used a scrap of tulle for the screen.

(It's important to protect those stuffed animals from mosquitoes, right?  No malaria or West Nile virus allowed!)
And the best part is that it cost me NOTHING!  I used fabric from some old curtains, plus a few other scraps I had lying around.  And I already had the ribbon and velcro I needed.  Plus a free pattern and a broken hulahoop.  Now that's the kind of project I like! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sew-along: Leggings!

If you are a beginner at sewing, leggings are a great project to start with.  For this pair of leggings, we are using a pattern from Ottobre 4/2012 #15, view B.  But any legging pattern works very much the same.  This particular pattern has a cute gathered cuff detail.

First, you need to trace your pattern on to pattern tracing material.  Then cut it out, with seam allowance added, and use it to cut your fabric out.  The most important thing is to remember to cut your fabric so that the stretch is widthwise (around the legs).  Also, make sure you have a ballpoint needle in your machine, as we will be sewing knits.

I took these pictures when I had a sewing playdate with a friend.  We are both making brown leggings -- hers in a toddler size, mine in a tween size, so the pictures are a mix of both pairs of leggings.

Sew-Along Instructions

1.  Cut out your fabric.  You should have two main leg pieces as shown.  Place them right sides together.

2.  Sew the front crotch seam.  I am pointing to it in the picture.  It has a smaller, less dramatic curve than the back crotch seam because the back has room to go over a booty.

3. Then sew the back crotch seam in the same way.  I used my serger to sew these seams.  If you are working on a regular sewing machine, just use a narrow long zigzag stitch when you are sewing stretchy knit fabrics.

4.  Now that the two crotch seams are sewn, you need to refold your leggings by bringing the crotch seams together in the middle.  Here you see my friend Kelly matching the two crotch seams and straightening out the legs.  Note that your waistband will NOT be lined up now.  This is because the front of a pair of pants is lower than the back of a pair of pants -- again because of room for a booty.  The leggings are still right sides together.

5.  Now sew the inseam of the pants in one continuous seam, starting at one ankle, sewing all the way up one leg, and down the other leg to the second ankle.

6.  Now we need to work on the cuffs.  Fold each cuff piece in half by matching the curved edges.  Press to make a clear line.

7.  Unfold your cuffs.  With a long straight stitch, sew a line of gathering stitches along the line you just pressed.  Pull the needle thread tail to gather up the fabric.  Gather it as tight as you can for this particular pattern.

8.  Now fold in half as shown WRONG sides together and press the bottom edge.  This will be the bottom edge of your leggings eventually, and you want a nice crisp edge.

9.  Unfold the cuff piece again.  Fold it in half as shown RIGHT sides together so that the raw edges are lined up on the side.  Sew this seam.

10.  Turn right side out now and fold in half wrong sides together.  Your cuff is almost finished.

11.  Now we will make the little tabs that cover the gathered stitches.  Fold them in half lengthwise (right sides together) and press.

12.  Sew the long seam. 

13.  Turn right side out and press so that the seam is in the middle of the strip.

14.  Pin on the cuff so that the tab covers the gathering stitches.  The tab is being folded over the cuff, so that both raw end are at the top of the cuff aligned with the raw edges of the cuff.  Pin in place, and then baste in place at the top of the tabs.

15.  Now place the cuffs INSIDE the leggings, right sides together.  The cuffs are upside down so that the raw edges of the cuffs are aligned with the raw edges of the leggings.  Make sure the gathered side will be at the outside of the leg.  Pin in place.

16. Sew around this circular seam, attaching the cuff to the legging.  Make sure you catch all three layers (leggings and two layers of cuff) as you sew.  Backstitch at the beginning and end if using a sewing machine.

17.  It should now look like this:

18.  Cut a piece of elastic about 1 - 2 inches smaller than your child's waist.  Sew the elastic in a loop as shown.

19.  Pin the elastic to the wrong side of leggings waist, dividing in quarters and pinning at each quarter.  Make sure that your ends of the elastic are are the back middle of the waist band, aligned with the back crotch seam.  (Remember, you can tell the back from the front because the back is a little bit higher than the front.)

20.  Sew the top edge of the elastic to the waist using either a serger or a medium length wide zigzag stitch.  Stretch the elastic as you go to match the length of the fabric.  If you are using a serger, trim just a little fabric off as you go, but do NOT nick the elastic with your serger knife.

 21.  Fold the waistband over, and press well.  (In the picture below, you can see a bit of ribbon poking out.  This is optional.  We have added a little fold of ribbon to the back middle to make it easier for the child to tell which is the back.)

22.  Using a sewing machine with a long, narrow zigzag, stitch the elastic down, close to the bottom edge.  Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

You are all done!

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