Friday, August 31, 2012

Tutorial: Monkey Shorts

monkey shorts: little shorts to wear under your skirt while playing on the monkey bars.
the girl will be starting grade three in a few days and we've been getting ready - shoe shopping, labelling clothes, and organizing her uniform. we decided that maybe it might be nice to have some little shorts to wear over her underwear/under her skirt - to preserve a little modesty while climbing the playground equipment during recess. i used an old pair of leggings as the basis for the new shorts.
- one yard of cotton jersey, pre-shrunk (can make about 6 pairs depending on size). i used navy blue to comply with school uniform requirements. old t-shirts would work well if they are very stretchy.
- 1/2" wide elastic, a couple of yards if you want to make a few pairs
- thread to match jersey fabric
- small pieces of ribbon (optional) to use as tags/labels
- tracing paper or scrap paper, paper cutting scissors, pencil, ruler
- old pair of leggings or jersey tights to use as a pattern
- sewing machine (that can sew zig zag stitch)
- serger machine (not necessary but very nice to have)
- sewing machine needle for knit fabrics
- twin sewing machine needle for knit fabrics (not necessary, but great for finishing hems on knit fabrics)
- scissors or rotary cutter (for fabric)
- pins
- measuring tape
Step 1: Cut the old pair of leggings to desired length and cut along seam lines.

Step 2: Lay the leggings onto the tracing paper and trace in pencil.   
Step 3: Add 1/4" seam allowance to the seams and 1/2" to the hem. Draw a line to indicate the grainline and label with any notes you might need. Cut out the pattern with your paper scissors.
Step 4: Pin the pattern to a double layer of the fabric, lining up the grain line. Cut out using your fabric scissors or a rotary cutter.
Step 5: With the fabric pieces right sides together, pin the leg seams together.
Step 6: Sew the leg seams making sure to remove pins as you go. If you are using a serger (as I did), just trim off a little as you sew. The seams can be sewn using a standard sewing machine - use a stretch stitch or a narrow zig zag stitch. Stretch the seams as you sew.
Step 7: Turn one leg right side out.
Step 8: Place one leg inside the other, right sides together. Match leg seams and pin.
Step 9: Sew the crotch (is there another word?) seam together, removing pins as you sew. Again, you can use a zig zag or stretch stitch with a standard sewing machine if you don't have a serger. Remember to stretch seams as you sew - we wouldn't want this important seam to split open while on the monkey bars or doing cart wheels!
Step 10: To hem the legs, turn up the bottom of each leg 1/2" and pin. Sew from the right side using a standard sewing machine with a twin needle or using one single needle with a zig zag stitch. Don't forget to stretch the fabric and remove pins as you sew.
Step 11: Measure the elastic waistband from the old leggings and add 1". Or wrap the elastic around your child's waist, stretching it slightly. Lap the edges of the elastic over 1/2". Zig zag stitch the elastic together.
Step 12: Divide the elastic waistband into four even sections and mark with pins. Do the same for the shorts. Pin the waistband to the wrong side of the shorts, aligning edges. Stitch edges from the right side using a serger OR zig zag stitch if using a standard sewing machine. Remember to stretch your fabric and elastic and to remove pins as you sew.
Step 13: Fold over the waistband to the wrong side (interior) of the shorts and pin. At this point you can add a little piece of ribbon to the center of the back (optional).
Step 14: Using the twin needle, sew the waistband while stretching the fabric/elastic and removing pins as you go. This can also be done using a standard sewing machine with a zig zag stitch.

Step 15: Make a lot of monkey shorts and play, play, play!

Monday, August 20, 2012

back to school prep

we've started getting ready for school to start. and after spending a small fortune on new shoes and some extra uniform pieces, i decided that i could make them new lunch bags with fabric i had in my stash. now that my little man will be in all day kindergarten he will have to take a lunch and snacks. and the girl seems to have a hollow leg so the generous size of her lunch bag will accomodate a full lunch and lots of snacks.

i used the tutorial from pink penguin with a couple of small modifications to enclose all the seams. inspired by knot, thread, stitch i traced the kids actual printing/handwriting and embroidered over it. they are thrilled with the results.

now to research some lunch ideas...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RIP David Rakoff

 from nytimes
i was so sad to hear that david rakoff died, having just finished his book, half empty, on thursday. it's a strange feeling to know that as i was reading his last chapter detailing his brutal struggle with cancer, his family and friends were saying goodbye to him. this american life posted his last dance on their website. eff you, cancer.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

new skill: piping

this was a fun project for a friend who needed new cushion covers for her kitchen chairs. she chose the fabric - a lovely coated cotton with an abstract chrysanthemum pattern. there were a ton of videos on youtube to help learn about cutting bias strips for piping and sewing it onto cushions. i bought sash cord from the hardware store - 45 feet for about $2 - much cheaper than the fabric store. now i'm looking around the house to see how i can incorporate more piping.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Frieda's Machine

our house is only one of four on a block with views of the gulf islands, each lot with a substantial garden. we've been lucky to make friends with the family next door who have lived here for over 40 years. our kids play with their kids, running through the sprinklers and playing in treehouses and forts together. we feel fortunate to have such friendly neighbors.

the beautiful house behind us has just been sold. it is a beautiful custom built mid-century home and we hope the new owners don't tear it down. the original owner is a lovely lady named Frieda. she lived there on her own until she was 93 and started to need a little extra help though i know she is still sharp as tack. she's is now in a senior's home and according to her family, enjoying the outings and company. we got to know her by waving across our yards and when it snowed we shovelled her walk. we made sure to take her garbage cans back from the curb. we chatted every few days when we saw each other out shopping on our local market street and learned about all of the changes in our neighborhood over the last 50 years. we took over cookies, muffins, and vegetables from our garden. she was always lovely to my kids and they learned to be 'neighbourly'. Frieda would tell me not to sew too late into the night - her kitchen looked onto my sewing studio and she said she said she wished her eyes would still let her sew. she brought over fabric and we talked about sewing projects. my favourite memory of her will be when she hired a maintenance crew called 'men in kilts' to clean out her gutters and spent a lot of time checking that the base of the ladders was secure for the handsome, kilted workmen.

it has taken Frieda's family the better part of a year to clear out her belongings. it must be heartbreaking to find new homes for all of your belongings and then sell the family home. Frieda's family was very kind to donate much of it to charity. we are very grateful for the doll dishes, child's chair, and a lovely slipper chair sits in the corner of my bedroom. but i was most touched to receive the little desk and chair in the picture above. the top folds out to become a sewing table and a beautiful 1963 Singer Touch & Sew pops up. it came with all the accessories and instructions and has knee controls. i can't wait to teach my kids how to sew on this machine and carry on the handmaking/sewing/crafting tradition that Frieda enjoyed. we miss you, neighbor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

happy anniversary

nine years ago we were enjoying hot, sunny weather and getting ready to be married. it really was a perfect day surrounded by our families and friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

summer reading

this post could also be called 'restrain oneself from kissing postal delivery person'. i was so thrilled to get the mail on monday - a gigantic box of books and even my favourite sewing magazine delivered to my door. most of these books have been on the bookstore shelves for some time but not on my own shelves. i've needed a little fresh inspiration and these are scratching that itch. this september (in one month!) i will be able to focus on my interior design business thanks to all-day kindergarden.

i am really enjoying lisa soloman's 'knot,thread,stitch'. great projects, clear instructions, and lots of encouragement to try stitching your own way. i can't wait to transfer some of my kids' drawings onto pillows for them. and to get them started on a little hand stitching of their own.

lest you think i've been only reading books with pictures, here's a list of what i've read this summer on my kobo ereader and from the library. and no, i have not succumbed to reading any of the 'fifty shades of grey' books - yet.

summer reading list 2012 (in no particular order):

the birth house - ami mckay
cutting for stone - abraham verghese
the descendents - kaui hart hemmings
freedom - jonathan franzen
irma voth - miriam toews
let's pretend this never happened - jenny lawson
the sense of an ending - julian barnes
the sentimentalists - johann skibsrud
the shoemaker's wife - adriana trigiani
the sisters brothers - patrick dewitt
this is how: overcoming shyness,... - ausgusten burroughs
committed - elizabeth gilbert
the 100-mile diet - alisa smith and j.b. mackinnon
life a user's manual - georges perec

if i keep going at this pace i may need a new prescription for my glasses...