Monday, September 30, 2013

Adjustable Baby Pants from an Old Shirt

Here is the second installment in my series on DIY baby clothing! As promised, today's project is easier than the first one. :) If you missed it, here is the first post on making baby overalls from old jeans.

Today I'm going to show you how to turn an old shirt into adjustable baby pants. These pants adjust in the length and at the waist, so your little one can wear them for longer!

I absolutely love these pants! They are really cute and super comfy! In fact, I'm making them in several different colors because they are so easy to make and they go with everything!

I found a few tutorials out there for making leggings from knee-high socks or shirt sleeves. I tested a few of them and decided they weren't for me.
Most of the "leggings" made from socks are actually nothing more than leg-warmers, which wasn't what I wanted.
The leggings made from shirt sleeves sounded like a fun, easy project, but I wasn't thrilled with the fit of the final results. They were okay, but the curve of the crotch seam was all wrong, and when I tried to correct it, I ended up with pants that were too small in the waist, because there was not enough material in my sleeves. I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend my time on a project only to get so-so results and some leggings that scream "homemade".
These pants are actually really easy, especially if you use a twin needle. A twin needle only costs a few dollars and can fit into your regular sewing machine. The professional results it yields are well worth the little bit of money spent. You can get one here:

If you are not familiar with using a twin needle, there is an excellent tutorial at Make It Love It. The only tip I would add is that, when working with knit fabrics, I find it helpful to stretch the fabric slightly as I sew.

To make your baby pants, you need:
A t-shirt the color you want to make the pants
8 buttons (1/2" or 5/8" is a good size for this project)
1/2" wide elastic (you will need less than a yard)
A pair of pants the size you want to make to use as a pattern

Note: In choosing the pants to use as a pattern, use the size you want the pants to adjust to at their largest point. For example, my daughter wears 6 month clothes right now, so I used a pair of 9 month pants to make the pattern, making the pants adjust between size 6 month and 9 month. I wouldn't recommend trying to make the pants adjust more than one size.

Fold your pattern pants in half with the back on the outside and lay it on your shirt.

Cutting through both layers of the shirt at once, cut around your pattern pants leaving about 1/2" seam allowance on the sides and 3/4"-1" at the top and hem. (I left a little more at the hem because my little girl is tall.)

Fold your pattern pants in half with the front on the outside. Cut out from the shirt, leaving the same amount of seam allowance you used for the back.

Cut out 6 rectangles about 2" wide by 6" long.

If you plan to make more than one pair, I recommend cutting them all out at once. However, if you're not sure about your fit, making a trial pair first may be a good idea. :) I cut out more than one pair, and for some reason switched from taking pictures of the red ones to the gray ones at this point.

Matching right sides together, sew the front leg to the back leg at the side seam. You'll notice I used a serger; I love a serger for sewing on knits. However, knits don't ravel, and sewing with a conventional sewing machine is just fine.
Repeat with the second leg.

Starting at the crotch, sew the inner leg seam on both legs.

Now this next part sounds a little confusing, but it is going to give you a nice crotch seam. Turn one leg right side out, but leave the second one inside out. Put the right-side out leg inside the other leg, matching up the seams. Line up and pin the crotch seam, and then sew it.

You'll notice it has a nice U-shape. This was the problem with the shirt-sleeve leggings method; the crotch seam on those was more of a V-shape. I have yet to meet a human shaped that way. :)

Pull the one pant leg out from the other one and you can see your little pair of pants taking shape.

Serge or edge finish the top edge and hem edges of the pants. This step isn't strictly necessary, but helps yield a professional result.

Fold over 3/4" at the waist edge and stitch down to form the elastic casing. Leave a couple inches open to insert the elastic. I like to leave this opening at the back because it looks nicer and it helps me know which side of the pants is the back--homemade clothes don't have tags, after all.

Measure the waist on your pattern pants and cut a piece of elastic that length plus an extra inch. Using a safety pin, feed the elastic through the casing.

Overlap the elastic ends 1", being careful not to twist the elastic, and stitch the elastic together. I go over it several times to make sure it's nice and secure.
Stitch the opening in the casing closed.

Fold up 3/4" on each hem and pin in place. Sew each hem.

You now have a completed pair of pants! If you want, you can stop here. To make them adjustable, keep reading.

With right sides together, fold one of the little rectangles in half lengthwise and sew.

Turn right side out. Thankfully, this is much easier with knit fabric than with other types of fabric!

Repeat with the remaining rectangle pieces.
Tuck in the ends of the rectangles and stitch around entire outside edge. I tucked in a little more on two of the rectangles to make my waist tabs just a little shorter than the leg tabs, but that's just a matter of personal preference.

Put a buttonhole in one end of each tab. My machine has a special buttonhole designed specifically for knit or stretchy fabrics. If your machine does not have this feature, any buttonhole will work.

Take one of the tabs and fold it in half to find the center. Line up the center of the tab with the side seam of the pants at the waist. Pin in place, with the buttonhole going toward the front of the pants.

Sew the back of the tab in place. I sewed it in a little square with an X in the middle. The rest of the tab should hang free.

Repeat on the other side with the second waist tab.

Sew 4 buttons to the front. The first set of buttons will be sewn right where the tab reaches naturally; this is the set you will use when your child has grown a little bigger. This set of buttons does not actually affect the fit of the pants, it is just there to hold the tab down flat when the pants are adjusted to their largest size. The second set of buttons will be sewn an inch or so closer to the center front, so that when the tabs are secured to these buttons, the pants are cinched up a littler tighter, fitting a smaller child.

Here's how the pants look when the tabs are buttoned on the innermost buttons, making the waist smaller:

Your pants now have an adjustable waist!
To make the pant legs adjustable, you are going to sew a tab and button to each leg seam--one on each inner leg seam and outer leg seam. Slide the tab inside the pant leg until it is just far enough inside that it doesn't peek out the bottom. Pin the top of the tab in place on the seam. The button will go at the same spot on the outside of the pants. In fact, I sewed on the button and tab together at the same time.
Hopefully this picture will make this process a bit more clear:

Just like the waist tabs, the leg tabs are only sewn at one end. The button is at the same end, secured on the outside of the pants. Instead of sewing the leg tabs on by machine, I sewed them by hand, catching the button at the same time.

To use the leg tabs, fold a cuff in the pants and then fold the tabs over the cuff to button in place.

Sew on all four leg tabs and buttons, and you are finished!

When the leg tabs are undone, the pants are longer and look like this:

Put those pants on your little lovebug and be proud of yourself for making a thrifty pair of pants that can grow with your child!

Linking up with Dear Creatives!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baby Overalls from Old Jeans

My baby girl is growing like a weed! At three months, she now fits into six month clothing. Unfortunately, she has very little six month clothing, and most of it is summery--as I realized when a cold front came through last weekend and she had, like, one long-sleeved outfit. I had already been planning on making some outfits for her; the weather just moved that project to the top of my priority list.

My model was not very happy with me, haha. This was the closest thing to a smile I could get out of her at the time.

I know I will end up buying some clothes for her, especially if I can find some good clearance sales, but baby clothes are expensive! Especially when they only fit for, oh, I don't know, a month or two? So what does this crafty momma decide to do? Make the baby clothes, of course.

Now, buying fabric isn't always cheaper than buying clothes ready-made, so I decided to raid my closet for things I don't wear anymore that can be turned into clothes for my daughter. How's that for thrifty?

I pulled out so many pieces of clothing I no longer use. We'll see if I actually get around to converting all of them into outfits for Little Miss. :)

This post is going to be the first in a series on DIY baby clothes made from things already in your closet. Aside from a few minor costs like buttons or elastic, these clothes will be completely free, while also helping you clean out your old clothes! Win-win!

The first project I made is a pair of overalls:

Now, this project is a little more involved, and probably not for the beginning sewer. I try to feature projects for all levels, so there will be some easier stuff in this series, too. :)

You will need:
An old pair of jeans
A pair of pants the size you want to make your overalls (referred to as "pattern pants")
A shirt/onesie the size you want to make your overalls
Overall buckles and buttons, like these:

Snap tape, like this:

(Note--you could make these without the snap tape and just sew the crotch seam, you would just have to completely remove the overalls with every diaper change).

A note about cutting your pattern: if you are using a pair of pants that fit your child well in the waist, or are snug like elastic-waist pants, you will probably want to add some extra seam allowance to the side seams when you cut out your pattern. Just make sure to add this extra allowance on the sides of both front and back leg pieces and the front and back bodice pieces.

Okay, let's get going!
First, cut open your jean legs and lay them flat.

Fold your pattern pair of pants in half with the back on the outside. Lay this on the jeans.

Cut around your pattern, leaving about 1/2" all the way around for seam allowance.

I wanted to use the original hem for my overalls, but I also wanted to make my overalls longer than my pattern (my baby girl is in the 90th percentile for height--crazy!). If you are happy with the length of your pattern pants and want to keep the original jeans hem, line up the bottom of your pattern pant leg with the bottom of the jeans. If you want to put a hem in yourself, leave an inch or so allowance at the bottom.

Using your newly cut piece as a pattern, cut out a second back leg piece. Make sure to cut a mirror image! In other words, lay your previously cut piece upside down as you cut out the second piece.

You now have your two back leg pieces. To cut out the front leg pieces, fold your pattern pants in half with the front on the outside and place it on top of your jeans.

Cut out your front pant leg, again leaving your seam allowance. If you are adding extra length to the hem, like I did, make sure you add the same amount so the front and back will match up.

Cut a mirror image of the piece you just cut to get your second front pant leg.

Okay, the leg portion of your overalls is ready!
Measuring for the top part of the overalls was a little more complicated, so stay with me and I will do my best to outline my process.

Measure the back width of your pattern pants.

Mine were about 8 inches across; adding 1/2" on each side for my seam allowance gave me a measurement of 9 inches.

Now, lay out your onesie/shirt and measure the back from the shoulder down to the approximate waistline.

Mine was about 7 inches. This measurement doesn't need to be exact, because you will be trimming it down in a minute; the width measurement is the only one that needs to be accurate at this point. This height measurement just gives you a starting point.

Cut a rectangle of your fabric using these two measurements.

Now you have the width for the top part, but obviously we don't want the back to come up in a perfect square. We need to shape it into a triangley piece to connect with the straps.
Laying out your onesie upside-down again, line up the bottom of your rectangle about 1/2" below the waistline of your onesie; this will allow the seam to sit at the waistline.
I curved my tape measure around the approximate line I wanted the overalls to follow, from the center to the side seam.

I wanted the side seam to come up to about half an inch below the armhole seam, and the top part of the back to stop about 2-3" from the onesie neckline.

Putting a finger or a pin at the highest center point on the curve you made, measure from there to the top of the rectangle.

My measurement was about 3 inches. Cut this excess off of your rectangle. You should be left with a longer, skinnier rectangle. This is now the height and width of your bodice back.

Fold the rectangle in half and lay it on top of the onesie, matching the fold up to the center of the onesie. Trim off the corner in a curved shape, as shown.

You now have your bodice back!

You're going to repeat a similar process to create the front bib piece.

Measure the width of the front of your pattern pants.

Mine was the same; it may be the same for most infant/toddler clothing, but it doesn't hurt to measure and double-check. Cut another fabric square.

Lay your onesie, right side up this time, on top of your square. Put the bottom of the square about 1/2" below the waist to allow for seam allowance.
Measure the front of your onesie from the top of the shoulder seam to the place where you want the front bib to reach.

Cut the excess off the top of the rectangle, just as you did for the back. Fold the rectangle in half and lay it on top of the onesie, matching the fold to the center of the onesie.

Lay your bodice back piece on top of the rectangle. You will be using this as a guide to make sure your front and back side seams will match up.

Starting at the side seam to ensure it will be the same length as the back side seam, cut the corner off of the bodice front to create the bib shape.

You now have your bodice front!

To measure for the straps, lay open the bodice back piece on top of your onesie. Measure an approximate distance from the back, over the shoulder, and to the front.

Whatever your measurement is, add a few inches to allow room for the strap to go through the buckle, and to let it out as your child grows.

Measure the curve on the bodice back to determine how wide you want the strap to be at that point.

Cut a rectangle that width by the length you measured earlier, plus your few additional inches. Starting at one end, curve your straps to match the curve of the bodice back. Keeping that end as your wide end, narrow the rest of the strap. The buckles you chose will determine the finished width your strap should have. My buckles said they were for a 1" wide strap. Remember to add your seam allowance; I only added an extra 1/4" on each side of the straps.

Cut a small square to make a pocket. I started with a 5" x 5" square. If you want to embroider on the pocket, do it now. I merged a few designs I purchased from Embroidery Library.

Serge or edge finish around the edges of your pocket.

Fold down about 1/2" on the top edge of the pocket and stitch.

Press under 1/4" on remaining three edges. Pin pocket to front overall bib.

Stitch around three edges of the pocket.

Serge inner leg edges on all 4 leg pieces. Do not sew anything together yet, this is where you will sew the snap tape in a little bit. This step is just to keep the edges from raveling.

On hem edge, tuck in serger tails using this method.

With right sides together, pin front leg pieces together at crotch seam. Stitch crotch seam. Repeat with back leg pieces.
Note: It's hard to tell in this picture, but only the curved crotch part is actually sewn together. The inner leg seams have been edge finished only.

Sew front legs to back legs at side seams.

Again, tuck in the serger tails at the hem.

Serge or edge finish top edges of bodice front and back pieces.

Serge or edge finish strap edges.

Press under 1/4" on long strap edges and narrow strap end. Stitch.

Pin straps to bodice back. Stitch.

Sew bodice front and back together at side seams.

Press down 1/4" on top and underarm edges of bodice front and back. Stitch.

Be careful not to stitch your straps inside as you do this.

Here's how the back should look from the outside at this point. See how cute it's starting to look!

Matching side seams, sew bodice to pant legs.

Turn your overalls right-side out. Getting closer!

Sew snap tape to inner leg seams, being careful to line up the snaps so that your hem will come out even.

Here's how they look when snapped closed:

I found it helpful to then fold the snap tape under and topstitch close to the folded edge, to keep more of the white from showing. Here's how they look after taking that step:

I like mine with a little cuff at the bottom, plus I made them long to allow room for growth.

Add overall buttons following package directions, and feed the straps through the buckles.

Your overalls are finished! Pat yourself on the back for following this long post, and then go put those overalls on your little cutie!