Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kindergarten Quilts

If anyone ever asks you to make 23 of something, I'd strongly urge you to say no.  I, however, tend to say yes, which is how I ended up sewing a quilt for each kid in O's kindergarten class.  I suppose they're technically blankets, since they aren't pieced, but his teacher called them quilts, so I am too.  :)

Each kid sent in a yard of muslin, a yard and a half of a printed fabric, and some fusible web.  Some of the parent volunteers cut off several inches of the print fabric, ironed it onto the web and cut out the letters of each child's name.  I took the rest home and sewed up the blankets.  I wanted them to have mitered corners and thought this self-binding blanket method would be fastest. I also referenced this tutorial.  For some reason, I thought that since it was basically a bunch of straight lines, it would go pretty quickly.  While the sewing itself was pretty fast, the ironing, measuring and pinning was really time consuming.  It pretty much occupied every free moment for nine days of my life.  I was a woman obsessed.

It was fun to see the fabrics that all the kids picked.  See the one that's just solid blue?  Yeah, that's O's.  He said he wanted blue because "it's the color of water Pokemon, oceans that pirate ships sail on, and the color of my eyes."  Obviously. 

I was really happy with how they turned out overall, although the first few aren't as nice as the ones later on.  I made O's first, and only cut his main fabric 2.5" wider than the muslin.  I thought the border would look better wider, so the rest were 4".  

After the quilts were sewn, some of the other parents ironed on the letters of each child's name.  The kids used fabric crayons to draw pictures about what they learned this year, and his teacher ironed on those.  They each got to take home their quilt on the last day of school.  I didn't take pictures of O's finished blanket until after he'd slept with it, so it's pretty wrinkled, but you get the idea.  

After sewing 23 of these, here are my tips for neatly mitered corners using the self-binding technique linked above.  First, measure carefully.  Second, iron, iron, iron!  Third, take your time sewing the corners.  It's worth it to putz a bit to make sure they end up without puckers.  I took some pics of the process.
Mark the 1/4" seam allowance on each corner.

When sewing, try to stop exactly at the intersection of the two lines.  
Futz around as much as necessary to make this happen!

The seams should meet perfectly.

This will make it easier to fold the corners with the two side seams on top of each other.  Then mark your line for the miter starting exactly where the two seams meet.

Sew carefully so that all three seams intersect in the same spot.  

Once it's trimmed, ironed, turned, ironed some more, pinned and top-stitched (gee, I wonder why these took so long?!), you have a perfectly flat mitered corner.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Honest Abe

The last three weeks have been a mad rush of sewing.  First up was O's previously mentioned Abe Lincoln costume.  There was a "wax museum" at his school, and kids chose a historical figure or celebrity to research.  They dressed up as their subject and did a small presentation.

Press the button to turn hear the speech!
Although I had previously publicly sworn off McCall's patterns after two successive disasters, M6143 was the only Lincoln costume pattern I could find, and I certainly am not capable of winging a jacket on my own, so I decided to give it a shot.  Fortunately, the smallest size was a 6/7, and O. is right between those two sizes at the moment.  No crazy Big 3 sizing here; it actually fit well!  I was pleasantly surprised.

The jacket was by far the most structured thing I've ever attempted, and I was quite happy with how relatively easily it went together.  Other than the part where I sewed the back on wrong side out and had to rip out three seams by the time I realized it... It's been a while since I've made such a rookie mistake.  I think I'd gotten too cocky! 

Don't the Chucks make the outfit?

There were several darts, and they turned out much better than my last attempt, which resulted in such pointy boobs that I never wore the top.  The construction of the lapel, collar and facings was quite different than anything I've sewn before, so it was fun to try something new.  My only real complaint was that there was what seemed to me to be an insane amount of ease in the sleeve caps.  Maybe because I'm so used to sewing knits?  For the first one I even hand-basted, but still needed to rip out three spots where there was too much puckering.  The second one I just pinned a lot and sewed with the sleeve against the presser foot, and that one went better -- only two spots to rip out!  They're still not perfect, but between it being black fabric and O. not standing still for more than a second anyway, it was good enough for my first try.

I really liked how the kick pleat was constructed, although I don't have a very good shot of it.  O. wouldn't try the whole thing on at home, just pieces as I finished them, so this is the best I could get.  School hallway lighting is also less than ideal.

The pants were a simple elastic waist style, and you were instructed to smooth out the front and sew through the elastic to create a faux flat front.  It worked well.  The shirt & vest are a dickey.  O. chose velvet ribbon for the tie, because it was the "blackest."

The only change I made throughout the process was to use Peltex for the brim of the hat, rather than the fusible interfacing and fusible web combo that was suggested.  I wasn't sure that would stiffen the felt enough.  Peltex worked well, but is so thick that some white showed.  A Sharpie fixed that pretty quickly. 

O's favorite part by far was the beard, which was the part that took about two minutes, of course.  It's just a piece of felt with elastic cording that went over his ears.

All that sewing for a six-year-old to wear for an hour!  I no longer have any residual guilt about buying his Halloween costume.  You can be sure I'll be spending the next four months slipping in subliminal messages about how awesome it would be to be Abraham Lincoln for Halloween.  I also suggested to him that he could use it to be Willy Wonka, but he pointed out that then it should be purple.  And then came up with the brilliant plan that I make the husband a purple Wonka costume.  Not likely.


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