Monday, July 30, 2012

Boo-boo Bunny - A Free Pattern! And a Giveaway!

My recently-turned-5 year old has been nagging me for months to sew him a bunny.  Really, he wants a whole family of bunnies, but he has to settle for just one!  Being stingy as I am, I decided to make up a pattern rather than buy one.  So now I am going to share it with you!  AND, I am giving one Boo-Boo Bunny away -- see the end of the post!

This cuddly bunny is made of fleece and flannel to be extra snuggly.  He has bendy poseable ears, because they contain pipecleaners, and he has sewn on felt facial features so that there are no choking hazards for little ones.  He has a fluffy tail at the back, and on his front he has a pouch where you can put a cold pack to help soothe those little bumps and bruises or a hot pack to make him more cuddly on a cold night.

You can download the pattern pieces by clicking here.



Brown fleece (or whatever color you want!) -- less than half a yard
Flannel scraps (I cut up an old baby blanket)
Fleece scraps for facial features
2 Pipecleaners


1.  Cut all the fabric according to the directions on the pattern pieces, EXCEPT you DO need to add seam allowance to the arms, legs, and ears pattern piece.  (It turned out just too skinny unless you add a little extra.  Sorry!)

2.  Using a piece of thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) as a template, turn under the seam allowance on the bunny belly piece and iron in place.  Also iron the top tab down as well.

3.  Stitch across the flat top of the bunny belly piece.  You can also see in this picture how the seam allowance was ironed down in step 2.

4.  Place the flannel bunny belly piece on the fleece bunny body and stitch in place around the curved edge, leaving the flat top open.
Note: I did two lines of stitching to make it extra strong.

5.  Placing right sides together, sew the rice bags (hot/cold pack) pieces together, leaving a small opening for later filling with rice.

6.  For the bunny ears, place one fleece piece and one flannel piece right sides together and sew around the curved edge.  Leave the straight edge open.  Repeat for the second ear.

7.  For the arms and legs, place two fleece pieces right sides together and sew around the cuved edge.  Leave the straight edge open.  Repeat for the other 3 arms/legs.

8.  This is what you should now have:

9.  Turn right side out:

10.  Fill rice bags with rice and either hand stitch or machine stitch the opening closed.  Don't use too much rice, as they will be hard to fit in the bunny's pouch if they are too full!!!!

11.  Stuff the arms and legs with polyfil.

12.  To make the ears bendy, you need to insert a bent pipecleaner (chenille stem) in each ear:

13.  To give the ears shape, hold them as shown in the picture:

14.  Then sew a short line of stitches just behind the pipecleaner to hold this shape:

It should look like this:

15.  Now it is time to sew the facial features on.  Cut out of felt and either hand stitch or machine stitch them in place.  I like to use small ovals for the eyes and a heart for the nose.

16.  Pin the arms, legs, and ears in place on the front body piece.

17.  Sew these in place close to the edge.

18.  Now place the back body piece on top of the whole mess and pin it well.

19.  VERY CAREFULLY, sew all the way around, making sure you are catching every arm, leg, and ear as you go.  Leave an opening between the two legs, so you will be able to turn it inside out.

20.  Turn right side out through the opening between the legs. (Sorry my toe is in the picture!)

21.  Stuff with polyfil.  I had a helper.

22.  Handstitch the opening to close up your bunny.  (Confusing pic with so much in the background.  You'll be happy to know that since then I have taken a community college course in photography.)

23.  Optional: To give the legs the appearance of feet, you can bend up the tip and stitch in place by hand.  (Blurry, I know -- I couldn't get a close enough picture.  I have to upgrade my camera.  Sorry.)

24.  Take a little bit of polyfil and handstitch in place on the bunny's rear end:

And you're done!  As you can see, mine has all the lopsided look of handmade love.  :)
Here he is with a rice pack stuffed in his pouch:

Giveaway: Boo-Boo Bunny!

If you would like to win a Boo-Boo Bunny (complete with all the mistakes that I made while sewing), leave a comment below.  Make sure to leave an email address so I can contact you.  The giveaway closes on 8/4/12 at 8 p.m., when I will use a random number generator to choose a winner.  Good luck!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

10 Tips on Sewing a Swimsuit

After several fruitless trips to the mall and other various stores searching for the perfect swimsuit, I once again decided to sew it myself.  Swimsuits are a great sewing project, because they take only a little bit of fabric, and you can actually make one that fits correctly and is the style you like.  But I know that lots of people are too intimidated to sew a swimsuit.  It really is not that hard, but you do have to be comfortable sewing with slippery, stretchy fabrics.  Here are my top 10 hints on how to sew a great suit:

1.  Start with a fresh, ballpoint needle!  I cannot stress enough how important it is to put a brand new needle in when you are sewing with swimsuit fabric.  It makes everything SO much easier.  I used size 11 ballpoint needles in both my serger and coverstitcher for this project.

2.  Use good quality swimsuit fabric.  You can get this at fabric stores like JoAnn's in the swimwear and dancewear section.  Look for it to be labelled as swimsuit fabric.  You should expect a high lycra (spandex) content -- maybe 20%.  You can also buy it at specialty shops online such as SpandexWorld.

3.  Pick a good swimsuit pattern.  You won't get a good product if you don't start with a good pattern.  KwikSew has several swimsuit patterns.  I haven't personally used any of them.  Jalie also has great swimsuit patterns.  The nice part about Jalie patterns is that they come in 22 sizes -- all the way from kids through adult -- in one envelope, for one price. The one I personally have used for myself is now out of print, but they have several at this page:  I would definitely check patternreview for specific reviews before purchasing a swimwear pattern.

4.  Or, don't use a swimsuit pattern at all!  You can choose patterns that aren't even meant as swimwear, but that give you the look and fit you want.  For my daughter, I wanted a swim shirt and shorts or leggings with an attached skirt.  I already owned patterns that would work just fine for this.  The swim shirt is just a raglan t-shirt.  I particularly like this raglan pattern because it comes up fairly high around the neck and has armbands also.  Because swimsuits need to be close fitting, I used a pattern two sizes smaller than what she would normally wear, and I just added extra length.  For the leggings and skirt, I downsized by one size (since the pattern for the leggings was already close fitting).  Both of these patterns are from Ottobre magazine, issues 3/2010 and 3/2011. 

5.  Use a 4-thread serger stitch.  If you are using a serger to construct your suit, use a 4-thread stitch.  Yes, a 3-thread stitch will give you more stretch, which would seem like a good thing, but you do not want the seams on your swimsuit to fail!  (Ask me how I know...)  If you are not using a serger, use a zigzag and a straight stitch combination, as explained in this Jalie tutorial.

6.  Don't cheap out on the thread.  Use Gutterman or Maxilock.  It really does make a difference.  These are seams that you do not want to break when you are out on a waterslide somewhere.

7.  Stretch your elastic correctly.  When making a women's or girl's traditional suit, you need elastic enclosed in the seams at these places: the leg openings, the arm openings, and the neckline.  For the arm openings and neckline, the elastic only needs to be stretched slightly to moderately when sewing.  Now this is the surprising part.  For the leg openings, the stretch of the elastic is not the same at the front as at the back.  For the front of the leg openings, you want to only slightly stretch the elastic, but at the back of the leg openings you want to give a moderate to strong stretch of the elastic.

8. Topstitch your seams.  I know it is tempting to skip topstitching.  But on a swimsuit or swimshirt, it is essential.  Because they fit closely on the body, and because they are constantly being stretched and pulled when worn, the seams will flip if not topstitched.  Let me show you what I mean.  Here is a close-up of the arm of my daughter's swimsuit:
If I did not topstich the seam allowance on the arm band, the floral print arm band would flip up when she was swimming.

9.  Line the front of the suit.  For an adult suit or a child's suit made in a light color, you really need to line the front of the suit.  You can buy tan swimsuit lining fabric at JoAnn Fabrics.

10.  Don't forget the boys!  It's easy to sew suits for boys, too!  A great source of fabric is Chez Ami.  They sell microfiber swim fabrics that are perfect for swim trunks.  Jalie has a board shorts pattern, or you can use any elastic waist shorts pattern.  Usually, swim trunks have a mesh inner short, so you will have to add that yourself if you are adapting a normal shorts pattern.

If you sew any swimwear, I hope you will comment with a link to pictures or at least a mention of your favorite pattern or fabric source!
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