Waistbands should keep your (sweat)pants up

A while ago I bought 4 pairs of sweatpants for my daughter. Even though they were bought in the same shop at the same time and 3 were the same model, 2 fit just fine and the other 2 simply slid down her legs and ended up at her ankles when she was wearing them. Not ideal…

To solve this problem I wanted to make the waistbands narrower. One possibility is to take out the elastic and replace it with a piece that is the correct length. However, the elastic was attached to the rest of the pants at the same time as the waistband. This is nice because it prevents the elastic from twisting inside the waistband, but has the disadvantage that I’d have to unpick the whole overlocked waistband seam to get the elastic out and then reattach the whole thing with new elastic. Especially the unpicking part of that activity is not very high on my list of fun stuff to do.

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Waistbands that were made narrower by adding an extra piece of elastic to the back.

So, I figured out another method to make the waistband narrower by adding a tunnel at the back of the trousers and threading an extra piece of elastic through that tunnel. This cinches in the back of the pants. They now stay up, so problem solved.

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Tunnel construction.

The new piece of elastic has to be narrower than the original waistband. My elastic was 2 cm wide and I cut the (woven) fabric for the tunnel 4 cm wide and slightly longer than half the circumference of the waistband. A narrow edge of each side of the tunnel was pressed to the inside. The finished tunnel needs to be wide enough to easily thread the elastic through. I first attached the long sides of the tunnel to the inside of the back waistband by stitching closely to the edge. I used a regular straight stitch and thread that matched the colour of the pants since the stitching is visible on the outside of the waistband. Then the elastic was threaded through the tunnel and secured at one of the short edges. The elastic was then pulled as tight as I needed it to fit comfortably around my daughter’s waist instead of sliding down. The other short edge was secured and the excess of elastic was cut off.

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Yay, the waistband now stays around her waist where it is supposed to be!

This was a pretty quick fix for this problem and the print fabrics add some fun to the waistband so I think I’ll use this technique again when faced with more too wide waistbands.

Completed: The red quilt

I made this quilt in 2016 but thought I had lost the pictures, I found them though so to keep a more complete record of all the quilts I made I am showing it today.

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When I started designing this quilt I wanted to make a red quilt so I started playing with lots and lots of red fabrics. Apparently I am not so keen on that much red because in the end all that was left was one red square, a red binding and some red quilting thread. It was an interesting experiment but for me red just works so much better as an accent colour.

If I remember correctly the grey fabric was a Kona cotton layer cake called Silent Film. I am not sure whether I used all the shades that were in it.

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For the backing I used a print from the Blueberry Park collection by Karen Lewis for Robert Kaufman. I’ve used it before for a backing and I am a little sad that most of this fabric is gone now. I did buy another print from this collection when I was in New York last year and am now regretting not getting more of it. Somehow it blends really well with a lot of other prints. The design on the back was kept simple with the child’s initial and two floating squares. I am pleased with how this turned out.

For the quilting I created a straight line quilting grid but used 4 different Gutermann Sulky thread colours that were matched to the fabrics in the quilt. The red thread crosses through the red square and then I worked from dark to light grey to the outside in each column and row. It is difficult to see in these pictures but I thought it added a bit more interest.

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I am now wondering whether I used so much more of the light grey in this quilt or whether I used it for another quilt as well. I guess it is probably the latter…

This was not a very complicated quilt to make but I do love the graphic effect with the different shades of grey and that pop of red.

Completed: A birthday backpack

200128_backpack1My daughter turned 3 years old and I wanted to give her a backpack designed and made by me. It was ages ago since I made a proper bag and I loved (almost) every minute of making it.

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I designed a simple bag with a main compartment with an O-type zipper (this was really hard to find so I am happy I found one in a somewhat matching colour) and two outside pockets. One that closes with a zipper and one that is a bit more open that closes with a flap with a snap. I really had to restrain myself from adding more pockets and fancy features. The bag is not very large since the intended recipient is still less than 1 meter tall so there is not really a lot of room to add extra stuff. A 3 year old also doesn’t need all those bells and whistles and they would have added extra weight which is not ideal when you want your child to carry her own bag.

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Years ago I read a blog post in which cork fabric was used to make a bag and I have ever since wanted to try that stuff. It sounded like a strong and durable material which is great for anything made for a toddler. It is also available with silver stuff in it which is great when your toddler likes anything with glitter.

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Not too shabby pattern matching on the top. I love the O-type zipper with 2 zipper pulls.

I paired it with a green Art Gallery fabric with yellow and white flowers, yellow quilting fabric for some accents, a yellow zipper, green and yellow webbing for the straps and some adjustable sliders. The print fabric was also used for the lining. On the outside the print fabric was interfaced with fusible Decovil 1 light which gives it a bit of a leathery stiffness. The front and back cork fabric were interfaced with fusible vlieseline/vilene S320, but that may not have been absolutely necessary because the fabric itself is already quite firm. Anyway, I hoped the bag would stand up by itself and it does.

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back before assembly

I sewed the outer and inner pattern pieces at the same time and finished the seam allowances on the inside with bias binding. On the front and back this turned out to be much easier than I expected. On the bottom this was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever sewn. I was super glad that I now have a Janome Horizon MC9400 because I am not sure the 3160 would have been able to handle all the bulk in the corners. In the end I managed to get it done with a lot of patience and I am happy this binding is located in a place that nobody will ever take a closer look at. If I ever make another backpack I think I’ll have to create a different type of bottom to make the assembly a bit easier.

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Attaching the binding to the front piece and attaching the bottom to the main bag. I am not sure why I ever thought 10 wonder clips would be sufficient for this project…

My daughter loves her new backpack and I hope she will be able to use it for years to come.

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And now I really want to make another bag for myself…

Week 4/2020: What’s on my design wall?

Finally making progress on this quilt top. It’s grown a bit since I showed it last and I added some additional fabrics. I should be able to finish piecing it this week.

As I started assembling I thought it was interesting to visualize how a quilt shrinks with each quarter inch seam that is sewn. I know that you lose half an inch each time and take it into account when I design a top but somehow it still manages to surprise me. Perhaps because the design process often takes quite some time and I get used to the size that it had unpieced?

Completed: Sun cover for the Urban Arrow cargo bike

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I had a second daughter and with her impending arrival came the question of how to safely transport not one, but two of those cute little things. For many people this probably means getting a second car seat, but we no longer own a car and even if we did it would be pretty useless to me since I don’t have a driver’s license. I prefer to use a bike or public transport and on the rare occasion that we really do need a car to go somewhere, we rent one.

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For my oldest daughter I used a bike trailer, but the one we have only fits one child and a larger one that could accommodate two children doesn’t fit through our backyard gate or in our shed. With my growing belly I also started to struggle facing headwinds while cycling home from work.

The solution to both problems was to get the Urban Arrow electric cargo bike. The baby can sit in her maxi cosi car seat that fits in a specific adaptor for this bike and her sister can sit on the bench strapped in a seat belt. I now laugh at headwinds and am still amazed at how much quicker you get somewhere when you cycle 20-25 kph instead of 15.

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Yes, I did take pictures for a sun cover on a rainy day…

You can get a very nice rain cover for this bike, but with the great summer weather we had last summer I worried that my tiny baby would be a bit too much exposed to the sun in her maxi cosi. So, solving the first two problems created a new one. Not being easily deterred by such problems I quickly started brainstorming ways to create a sun cover.

The requirements

  1. Good protection from the sun
  2. Easy to install and remove, if it takes 10 minutes each time it won’t be used
  3. Easy to take the maxi cosi out of the bike as I will often have to take it with me when I reach my destination
  4. The cover should not make it more difficult to seat the toddler on the bench
  5. There should still be a clear view on the baby when I am cycling so I can keep an eye on her
  6. The baby should still get enough fresh air, I could just throw a big blanket over the entire maxi cosi to cover everything but children really need air to breath…

How it was made

I had a stretch fabric blanket with UPF 50 rating that seemed like a good starting point and from there I sort of made this cover up as I went along using stuff that we already had on hand.

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Sun cover attached to maxi cosi handles using velcro straps. Sun cover is folded to the back which is how I carry it without removing the cover.

I added some Velcro straps to attach one side of the blanket to the maxi cosi handle. While the maxi cosi was placed inside the bike I determined where to make two button holes in each of the corners on the opposite site to attach the blanket to the bars located inside the rain cover. To attach the blanket to the bars I used some linky toys. To create a bit more coverage on the sides I measured how much fabric I needed to add and attached a double layer of jersey. It being a sun cover I thought the ice cream print was very appropriate. I could have added a longer piece to get even more coverage, but the baby’s older sister does enjoy looking around while we are cycling and I didn’t want to limit her view too much.

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sun cover anatomy

So, does it work? Yes, I’ve been very pleased with how this turned out. The baby stayed mostly out of the sun while we were cycling. Only when the sun came from very specific angles it reached her, but her face was always in the shadow.

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Linky toy hooped through two buttonholes and around pole inside rain cover. Most creative use of this toy yet?

Now that it is winter the sun cover is not really necessary anymore but I am certainly going to use it again when spring arrives.

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Better than new

I had a second super cute daughter and as a result I currently need a lot more clothes than I used to. My baby spits so often that I can rarely wear something twice and sometimes even have to change outfits during the day. Add a nursing friendly requirement and a severe lack of time and it may not come as a surprise that I resorted to buying some clothes online to fill my wardrobe needs.

But, as it turns out, even with RTW clothes you sometimes can’t avoid picking up a sewing needle.

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With so many threads coming undone it has to be a construction error.

I bought this top that has 4 snaps down the front for easy nursing access and after a while (ridiculously fast actually) 3 of the snaps started to come loose on both sides to the point that I was starting to worry that I would lose one or more if I didn’t do a quick intervention.

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So much better…

As I was doing the repairs I was thinking that I was making this top as good as new, but then I realised that no, I was actually making it better than new because I am quite certain that my stitches will hold and won’t require another mending job 2 months from now. And that thought made me feel pretty good.

Completed: Baby Bandana Bib

Recently one of my daughter’s daycare teachers went on maternity leave. The daycare asked all parents if they wanted to give her a small gift so they could surprise her on her last day. My husband immediately suggested washing detergent to get rid of those inevitable yellow poop stains. I thought that as a day care teacher she is already well aware of this less pleasant part of parenthood and something a bit cuter would probably be more appreciated.

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It doesn’t actually close around my dress form’s neck.

My sewing time is limited at the moment and I have a lot of larger projects going on so progress feels really slow. Sometimes it is nice to make something that only takes a small amount of time to create to experience that “I made something!” rush. I decided to combine the urge to finish something with the need for a small gift and made a bib to catch that endless stream of drool a young baby is bound to produce at some point.

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The pattern is the Bandana Bib pattern from simplysmallwonders.com (the account now appears to have been suspended, so I seem to have downloaded the pattern just in time…). It can be made from woven and knit fabrics, I chose knits because I think knits probably feel nicer against baby’s skin. The tutorial suggested adding an extra layer of woven fabric in between the two knit layers and I think this worked out really well. To make the bib somewhat adjustable I added two snaps on one side and one on the other.

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I made size 0-6 months, but when I compared it to some bibs I used for my own daughter I think they’ll fit for longer. Or the printer didn’t print it exactly to size which I can’t check because the pattern didn’t come with a box to check the pattern printed correctly. For an item like this I don’t think it’s much of an issue though if it turns out slightly larger than intended.

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I am very pleased with how this bib turned out and will probably use this pattern more often for quick baby gifts.