Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Valentine Lovebirds Onesie Tutorial - How to make a fusible-web and raw-edged applique

Valentine's Day is just round the corner so I thought I would make a lovebirds themed onesie for Eden, who is always running out of play clothes.  While I was at it, I put together a simple tutorial for anyone who would like to try making this.  A hand-crafted onesie makes a sweet, personal gift for a birthday girl or new baby.

  • 1 blank onesie or t-shirt
  • 3 fabric scraps in red, pink and/or  red-pink combo
  • Iron-on fusible web (eg. Wonder Under 805)
  • Tear-away stabilizer (eg. Sulky iron-on or self-adhesive)
  • Sewing machine needle for knit fabrics
  • Sewing machine with satin foot
  • Sewing machine thread in red
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Embroidery floss in red

The first thing I do is to gather my scraps and put them together on the table to see if the colors will work well together.  Since this is a Valentine's Day design, I decided to go with a red bird and a pink bird, with some other accent fabric for the hearts.

Trace the outline of the birds on a piece of iron-on fusible web. (You will draw on the paper side of the web, the other side is the bumpy side which contains the heat-activated adhesive.)  Remember that you will be fusing onto the back side of the fabric, and then turning it over, so your applique cut-out will be a mirror image of your drawing.

Cut out the shapes of the birds from the fusible web, leaving a quarter inch surround.  Place the cut-out shapes of fusible web onto the back side of the fabric.  I like to do this over a light-table or hold the pieces up against the light in order to make sure the outline encompasses parts of the print I want to capture.

Set a hot iron (no steam) on top of the two pieces, and fuse the drawing onto the back of the fabric.  Carefully cut out the shape of the bird, along the traced lines. Do the same for the second bird.

Arrange the two birds on your onesie, making sure you mark their position with a pin.  In this case, I wanted the two beaks to be close to touching.

Peel the paper backing off the birds, and using a hot iron with a press cloth, fuse one bird at a time.  This is to make sure you have one fused in place so that you can reposition the second bird if you need to.

At this point, I decided to add some hearts, so I found a pair of Eden's old shorts with a cute polka-dotted print and cut a few out in various sizes.  I played around until I was happy with the composition and pinned the hearts in place.  The top three hearts will be fused onto the shirt, as I did the birds.  The bottom largest heart, I reserved for doing the raw-edged applique.

Turn the shirt inside out and apply the stabilizer (either iron-on or self adhesive) onto the back of your designs.  Make sure that the stabilizer is a large enough piece so that it provides coverage under both the birds and the hearts. Flip the shirt back right side out and prepare to sew.

I have a very basic sewing machine, so I used a tight zig-zag stitch.  If your machine has a satin stitch or other embroidery functions, you may want to use a fancier stitch. I love the scribbly effect of a zig-zag because it has that hand-made look, so don't sweat it if you don't stay perfectly on the edge of your shapes.  A little bit of a wiggle here and there actually gives it a personal touch.  Go slow and always pivot with the needle down.

When you are done, flip over to the back side and carefully tear away the excess stabilizer until you end up with something like this.  

Fuse and zig-zag stitch the remaining heart onto a scrap of jersey knit fabric using the same method as described above.  In this case, I'm using a scrap of heather grey jersey that matches the blank onesie.

You'll want to make sure the scrap is large enough so that you can securely pin around it.  Thread a hand-sewing needle with three strands of embroidery floss, and stitch around the heart with a tight running stitch.  You may use an embroidery hoop to help you, but I just sew it with the pins in place.

Keep the stitches even and close together.  Hide the knots behind the heart.

When you're done, carefully trim leaving an even allowance around the stitches.  Because of the knitted material, the edges won't fray and with washing, they will eventually curl giving it a quirkly, hand-made character.

The finished product!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year's Resolution - Celebrating hand-made, repurposing old stuff and finding new reasons to love what you already own.

My New Year's resolution for 2011 is to make what I would otherwise buy.  Granted of course, that I can make a comparable, functional and reasonable version of that particular thing.

I daresay I will be screaming for a shopping binge after a couple of months, but that's what's fun about making a new year's resolution.  Its something well-intentioned, not completely thought through, with somewhat dubious chances of success.

For example, take this pair of slippers I made for Eden from a repurposed wool sweater.  Its a pattern from Betz White's lovely book, Sewing Green (note: it needed a fair bit of doctoring to get it to a child's size). I found one of my "so-very-yesterday" sweaters, felted it in a hot wash cycle, sewed it up and voila!

But all the good intention in the world won't get those slippers onto my toddler's feet.  Eden took her first look at them, and screamed, "No!" and ran in the opposite direction.

Its completely baffling because those are her favorite colors, she loves all kinds of booties/boots, and its soft, cozy and so darn cute.  See what I mean about new year's resolutions?  You can make them, but then life intervenes.

I had to buy Eden new slippers.
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