Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thunder shirt knockoff

My Mother-In-Law asked me to help her make a "Thundershirt" for her dog Norman.  He can get overly excitable and she didn't want him to be too anxious when she had to board him.  Apparently the shirts work much like swaddles do for newborn babies--the feeling of being held snugly makes most dogs calmer and can help during thunderstorms, when the doorbell rings, etc.

See how docile he looks?

We were able to get ahold of a Thundershirt and I traced it and marked all the Velcro positions.  I used 3/4" and 1 1/2" Velcro, though I think the actual shirts use 2" for the wider strips.  I cut up some old t-shirts I had to make a muslin for Norman.  The actual Thundershirt is made from a rayon/poly/spandex blend, but the t-shirts worked just fine.  I forgot to flip the pattern when I cut the second side out, so the two straps that go around his chest (one is long and one is shorter) are reversed from the real deal, but it doesn't matter.

Norman doesn't care what it's made of or if I goofed,
as long as it's comfortable :)

The bright green shirt is a men's 3XL and I could cut the entire piece out of it.  The yellow I used for the underside was a women's L and I had to sew a seam where the chest straps meet the main body because the shirt wasn't big enough to cut it all in one piece.  Norman is a size "medium", for reference.  It could be cut out of a yard of knit (assuming 60" wide).

The shirt is just two pieces of knit sewn right sides together, then flipped right side out and cover-stitched (I used a twin needle instead since I bought a new sewing machine rather than a coverstitch).  It has straps that Velcro around the body and around the chest, and the flap you can see in the picture above is to cover up the exposed Velcro.  It's a pretty neat design, but $40 was out of my MIL's budget.  This homemade version took about $6 worth of Velcro and works just as good!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


What do baby taggies, an anxiety coat for a dog, a wallet, embroidered stay-put towels and a swimsuit have in common?  They're all projects I'm working on this weekend!

Ribbons and fabric for the taggies

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sewing for a Cause

May is almost ending but there is still a week left to squeeze out some projects AND help others!  Forgive me for not having my own photos yet, but I wanted to get word out while there was still a little time left for these two sewing opportunities.
Photo from Applique Chick

Applique Chick is offering up this super cute, in-the-hoop doll (there is also a boy version) FREE until the end of the month if you are willing to send her a completed doll. They are going to be collected and sent to a missionary family in Asia that will be providing them to local children. The dolls are offered in both 5x7 and larger sizes--be sure to check out her website for more information!

Also, Cole from Cole's Corner and Creations has asked for help in rounding up some supplies and toys that her cousin can take to Nicaragua.  In addition to providing medical care, the Centers of Hope Medical Mission will be providing small toys and lovies to the children they will see.  You can see the full post about that here.

Picture from Cole's Corner and Creations

To make it even easier to help others, Cole has posted a free tutorial on how to make lovies.  Here's the fabric I'm going to use to make some:

This cute piggy flannel is nice and soft :)
I find that people who craft tend to be people who care, so I hope you join me in participating in these two great projects!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Two Sons (the fabric story)

I should warn you up front that this is a personal post.  I am sure everyone who sews has a lot of stories about fabrics they love, but this is not one of the lighthearted ones.  I have never been known for being overly reserved and I have found a lot of support in the stories others have shared about their losses, so I have decided to share mine.

I got pregnant the second time when Danielle was 10 months old.  We had planned on waiting at least a year but got too excited.  My husband is an only child and really wanted to carry on the family name, so he was hoping for a boy.  The pregnancy was very different from my first so I had thought he might get his wish.

I had a friend who was expecting a little boy, and I was excited to make something cute and boyish (since I only had my daughter and nieces to sew for).  I spent a few hours in the fabric store picking out fabrics for a quilt.  It was going to be in blues and browns and use this stripe as a border print:

The rest of the fabrics were cotton, but this flannel
coordinated so well I decided to use it.

I was feeling pretty good about the choices, but fell head over heels in love when I found this piggy flannel for the back:

Isn't it adorable?

I was so in love with the combination of all the fabrics by this point that I decided to wait and see if we were having a boy, so I could use them for him instead.  (Don't worry, I made other baby things for my friend :) )  We weren't going to be able to find out the gender (assuming we could see it on the ultrasound) until 20 weeks, and I am not a patient person, so I scheduled a 3D ultrasound when I was 17.5 weeks pregnant.  Long story short, we found out that day that our baby's heart had stopped beating.  It was very surreal, and obviously devastating.

Because I was so far along, I had to be induced.  I went to the hospital the day after we found out we lost our baby--it was the 4th of July, two summers ago.  I kept referring to our baby as "he", though we didn't know for sure that we had a lost a boy until he was delivered.  There are just some things a mama knows. 

I don't know that I have ever wanted anything more than I wanted a little boy after we lost our first son.  I fell to my knees and prayed to God--with my whole heart--to have a little boy.  I knew before our next pregnancy was confirmed that we would be having a little boy, and that's how we came to have our Samuel.

Meanwhile, I had a few yards of little boy fabric that I couldn't bear to give away or sell.  It may sound silly to be attached to it, but that's how it was.  I plan to make a memorial quilt for the baby we lost but it won't take very much fabric at all, since he was so small.  I decided that I needed to make Samuel a shopping cart cover out of the fabric--those little piggies were just begging to be something more useful than a pair of pants he would grow out of in weeks.

It turned out I was just a little short of what I needed to make the cart cover.  I scoured the Internet to find some more pig flannel (Hancock's was out of stock), and stumbled across a picture of it on this blog.  I emailed Rochelle to ask if she had any scraps leftover and she was kind enough to send me the 3 yards she had!  I also was short on the striped fabric, but found some on a fabric site online.  I must have been in a hurry, because I didn't realize I bought the plain cotton version instead of the flannel.  It all worked out though and the shopping cart cover has finally been finished.  In the time this project has taken (from being ready to use the fabric to tracking down extra to getting the cart cover finished), I've worked through my attachment to the fabric.  I plan to use the remaining yardage & scraps to make items to donate for babies.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shopping Cart Cover

Well, it's a bit late, but I managed to finish Samuel's shopping cart cover before he turned one, whoo hoo!  In my defense, I try not to carry him around while shopping (which would include from the car to a shopping cart), as he is heavier than his 3 year old sister.  Okay, not quite, but he feels like it.  He was 18 pounds at 3 months, so I am not just being a sissy :)  Up until now I have just pushed him in a stroller while pulling a cart (if I need one). 

I used McCall's 5721

Anyhow, it seems like I always get stalled on patterns when I get to a part I don't enjoy doing. In this case, it was dealing with lining up the 3 layers (main fabric, contrast and lining).  If I ever make another one of these, I will cut all 3 layers out at the same time. Because trying to get them matched up was a giant pain.

That's my size 8.5 foot for comparison--this
thing is a beast (before the elastic is in place)

The main pattern piece is big and the layers are prone to slipping--even basting spray didn't help enough.  I'd get one side lined up and then the holes would be off.  Then there's the whole slipping-while-it's-sewn bit, which made wrinkles and puckers in my layers (that lots of pin basting and a walking foot didn't prevent) and then the alignment got all out of whack again.  Ugh.  It was smooth sailing after I got the darned thing basted together properly.  And after I accepted that this project wasn't going to be as nicely sewn as I would like.

The beast fits nicely over standard cart sizes--
I haven't tried it on any but this one yet.

This pattern has some really nice features and is WAY better than the one I made Danielle.

Aww, look at little she was. 
The biggest thing I didn't like about this cart cover
is that it didn't have enough fabric to stay on properly.

This cover looks more like the big floppy ones I've seen other people have.  It's got a pocket in the front and on the side, with loops on either side of the pockets to hang toys off of. 

The loop is made from the bias trim on the pockets--
it's just extended and then sewn underneath. 
I think it's clever.

I also like that it's big and easy to put on the basket.  Nothing like struggling with a kid AND a cart cover to sour a shopping trip.  It only uses half-inch elastic, but it is sturdier than I thought it would be.  No worries about it coming off the cart so far.  And it has a bag attached at the back to store it in (or use as another pocket while I'm shopping).

The brown piggy fabric poking out at the back
is a lined, bias-trimmed bag to store the cover in

My favorite part of this project has got to be the fabric I used.  That's a whole story in itself, so I think I will share it tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

I don't mean to jump the gun, but my husband gave me the go ahead today to order a new machine, and I'm super excited about it!  It's not really a Mother's Day gift, but the timing makes it seem like it :)  I had been saving for/planning on a coverstitch machine, but have decided to go with a sewing machine upgrade instead.  As much as I sew, it will be nice to have a few extra features, and more than 12 stitches :)

My current machine--a Janome Jem Gold
(that's a quarter in the middle, to show the scale :) )

I love my little Janome Jem, but there are some limitations and it was designed to be a travel machine (you know, for taking to quilting classes and such).  I have sewn denim, knits, 1/2" foam (which was a bit tough) and all kinds of other fabrics on my Jem and she sews them beautifully, so I plan on keeping her as a backup machine and to teach some friends to sew.

I plan to purchase a Baby Lock Elizabeth--I'm sure she will get along fine with my Janomes.  I don't care for the Janome dealer in town and ended up driving to a different dealer an hour away to get my embroidery machine.  So I'm going to give Baby Lock a try--I thought it was important to have local dealership support, even if I will have a backup machine.

The Baby Lock Elizabeth (picture from their website)

The Elizabeth is a computerized machine with lots of features that will be new to me.  I'm most excited about having an auto thread cutter and a knee lift, though I'm sure there will be plenty to get giddy over once I bring her home :)  It won't be until later this week, as I need to order it from the dealer, and they are closed on Mondays.  I'll get a class on her once she comes in, and I think I'll need it--they demo'd another Baby Lock for me and I got so overwhelmed with how different it was.

Have any of you made the conversion from mechanical to computerized? How did it go?  Do you have any advice or words of wisdom?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Duck Tails

So my sister (you know, the one who should pay me to be her personal seamstress) asked me to make some presents for a birthday party she's taking her girls to.  She wanted hooded towels with ducks, neither of which are my favorite.

Luckily for her, she found these really cute chick faces at Lynnie Pinnie.  The towels are for a boy/girl set of twins, so I got to stitch both the girly face and the boy face.

Both designs can be found here

I used knits for the applique fabric and loved it.  They lay much nicer than the woven fabrics I've used on towels.  The only thing I didn't like was that I had to do a lot of resizing to get the designs to match.  The girl face is a lot smaller than the boy face, because of the flower.  I believe I used the boy 5x7 design at 82% and the girl 6x10 design at 110%, moving the flower so that it would fit in a 5x7 hoop.  The end result was that all the features they have in common are the same size (unlike in my pictures).

Those faces were so cute that I was happy to stitch them out, but I really got excited about the project when my sister sent me the link to a duck tail design.

I used the font "Fudge" from 8 Claws & a Paw

I resized the tail to 150%, crossing my fingers because that's more than I should have increased it (and it was from a site I had never purchased from before.)  I removed the fill stitches that were in the center of the tail design and just did the satin stitch, which I thought ended up looking pretty neat.  Then I added the names in 1-inch letters, at 120% I think. (Wouldn't you know it, I threw my notes away.  Man, I am off my game today!)  I put the tails & names on the back of the towel, a few inches up from the bottom.  I think they turned out so cute!

My model is off her game today too--
this is the best picture we got :)

If you're interested in making a hooded towel--they're super easy--check out the tutorial on Cole's Corner & Creations.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sneak Peek

I'm wrapping up a bunch of projects and my models are ready for pictures again!  (They been covered in spots and blisters from Hand, Foot & Mouth).  I didn't want to wait, so I'm sharing a peek at a super cute project my sister asked me to make:

More to come tomorrow!

In other sewing news, my newly 3-year-old daughter and I had this conversation this morning, after I had her put a dress on for church:

Danielle: "Did you make this dress for me, Mommy?"
Me: "No sweetheart"
Danielle: "Yes you did make it, because it's pretty!"

My heart melted!  I'm so glad I have a couple projects in my queue for her :)
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