Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Open Letter to Mr. Stan Lee

Dear Mr. Stan  Lee,
  I've lived in your universe for nearly my entire life. As a child I loved Spider-Man. (still do) Not because he was innovative. Not because he was different than any other super hero. Because he spoke to my heart with his sense of humor and his humanity. He was the reallest super hero out there. To this day I attribute a portion of my wacky sense of humour to an overdose of Spider-Man quips as a child.

 As I got older my respect for you grew immensely. Your heroes are truly amazing. Your sense of the world is so fresh and different. The risks you take with the genre are astounding. A hero based on a spider? What?!? Are you crazy? People hate, HATE spiders. Yet we root for him. Super heroes with no secret identity? How's that supposed to work? But it's believable that these figures walk among us in celebrity.

 Your heroes have always been richly imagined and wonderfully detailed.Your female supers? Don't get me started. Not merely the copycat counterpoint to some "super" male figure but strong, complex characters that shine on their own. Fire Star, Jean Grey, Storm and The Invisible Woman are all characters I am pleased to let my daughter watch.

 As for that daughter, she loves Spider-Man too. So much that she dressed up like him for Halloween last year. So much that we have countless Spider-Man figurines, watch countless episodes of Amazing Friends and own no less than four pairs of Spider-Man jammies.

 Mr. Lee, you taught us that spiders can be heroes and that women aren't just the less interesting side of the same coin. You're the same man who had the courage to portray gay super heroes and even more courage to stand by and let them shine.

  With all your forward thinking and innovation I have one question for you Mr. Lee. Why is it that no matter how much my daughter loves Spidey and Marvel, she can't have the holy grail of licensed products? Why can't I buy my daughter Spider-Man underwear?

 If she was a little boy I would have a treasure trove of options. In fact when she was younger I did buy her boys underwear because she wanted them so desperately. I can remember exactly how unjust it felt thirty five years ago when my brother could have super hero underpants and I was stuck with Holly Hobby.

 So sure boy underwear worked to some extent. However, Wub, for all her love of Spidey, is still a pretty girly girl. Y fronts don't exactly fit her sense of style. She needs something just a touch more delicate and feminine and a bit less easy open fly.

  So Mr. Lee I only ask that you do what you do best. Innovate. Blaze new trails. Break down barriers. Go ahead, license Spider-Man for little girl panties. You might be surprised by the results. (But I won't be.)

Kristi White
Wub's Mom and long time Spider-Man fan.

That being said...
You know the tune...

Sewing mom, sewing mom does whatever a sewing mom does. Fashions panties for a girl from a printed Spidey shirt. Makes pair out of two, too small pairs of boys pants. Because...she is a sewing mom!

Forgive the rough quality of the pictures but I wanted to show just how quickly you can fashion a new pair of undies from an old tee shirt.

You will need:
An underwear pattern.  I used a free one from Ottobre "Baby Undies". The largest size just fits Wub. You could also cut apart and trace a pair that fits your kid (or you)

A tee shirt with a cool graphic
A small amount of coordinating knit fabric with good recovery. (That means it bounces back when stretched.) This can come from the graphic tee or another tee you may have cut up for some other project.

A sewing machine with a zigzag stitch and all the stuff you 'd normally need to sew. 
You do not need a serger. You do not need a double needle. I have both of these and I chose to sew this with only zigzag because it can be done. Not having "fancy stuff" shouldn't stop you from doing something new. 
(See? One needle, set to a small zigzag)
First decide which side of the panties you want to have the graphic. I wanted it on the tushy so I could preserve as much of it as possible. Fold the graphic half of the tee in half and trace (or pin) your pattern.
Once I've got the pattern traced I like to pin the folded piece to keep it from separating when I cut it out. Now cut out it out
.Do the same with your other pattern piece. It's already starting to take shape. 
Next you are going to pin your crotch pieces right sides together (graphic on the inside) and sew them with a fairly narrow zigzag stitch. Try not to tug or stretch the fabric as goes through the machine. If your machine is struggling try increasing the size of your zigzag slightly until the fabric feeds through nicely. (You might want to practice on scraps first)
Repeat with the side seams.
Now you should have something that really resembles a pair of underwear. Turn them right sides out.
Use a tape measure to measure around the leg holes and around the waistband. Cut 2 strips of knit fabric 3 inches wide by leg hole measurement. (For me this was 3x13.5) and one strip of knit fabric 3 inches wide by waistband measurement. (for me this was 3x22)

Fold the strips in half and sew ends together to form a ring.
I'm going to admit it. I was being super lazy while I was making these so I didn't iron anything. Yes, these would be nicer if I'd taken my time and pressed a few things here and there. But they're still super cute and they were super fast. Iron if you must or just fold the tubes in  half  lenghtwise to form a double layer tube. You can either pin or just hold the legband to the outside of the leg hole. Graphic now facing out.

Using the same narrow zigzag sew the legband to the leg hole. Repeat on opposite side. 
Turn legbands down. 
Attach waistband in the same manner.
You do not need to finish the interior seams because the knit will not fray. You can if you want to though.
All told, from cutting out and taping the pattern to finished undies less than hour.
Not bad...
Tune in next time when our intrepid sewing mom shows you how to make one pair of girls underwear out of two pairs of boy underwear.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Maggie May Dress from Shwin & Shwin

 I have to be honest I wasn't 100% sure  I liked the Maggie May Tunic/Dress when I bought the pattern. I was very on the fence. Mostly because I wasn't sure I could come up with a fabric combo I would really love.

 But there was something about the pleats that whispered to me. I know, I know but I HATE gathering stuff. It's so fiddly. Frustrates me. And ever since I made myself a pleat flipper from a Jenga block, two bamboo skewers and some scotch tape I've chosen to pleat over gather whenever practical.

 There are only three pattern pieces to the Maggie May. Two multipurpose back and front pieces and a pocket. The rest is measured rectangles. So there wasn't a lot of tape this to that and line up this with that. Considering the last pattern I cut out and put together was the W Pants by Blank Slate Patterns (a fantastic pattern by the way) this was a welcome relief.

 The directions are wee bit sparse but a confident beginner could definitely figure them out. I mostly followed the directions except I put the pleats in the skirt before I sewed the skirt pieces together. One other thing I would change the next time I sew it. (And I will definitely sew it again because it looks a-mazing on Wub.) would be to attach the contrast band to the bottom before I sewed the skirt sides together.

  Because Wub is in a size that doesn't actually exist commercially I'm pretty careful to measure her before I sew something. I sewed the size six and it was spot on for sizing.

 I managed to get this sewed over three evenings. If that sounds like a long time, take into account we get home from work between 5:30 and 6:00. We cook and eat dinner, get Wub's lunch ready, do any homework she has, bathe and sometimes we pretend we care about housework. Also if I stay up past 10:00pm that's like 4:00 am in twenty year old time. So all told maybe three and a half hours. At least a half hour of that time was me picking out the same button hole four times because I kept bleeping it up.

  As for the fabric combo? I kinda feel like I knocked that one out of the park.
The linen is a fabric remnant I got at JoAnn's for maybe a dollar fifty. The floral is from a brand new (circa 1971) Canon Blossom Festival  full size sheet that I bought on Ebay. I think I paid $14 for it. I still have several yards of it left.
The back doesn't quite line up but I'm 98% sure this was a "user" error and not the pattern itself. 

 I let Wub pick out the buttons. She had the choice of deep clear green, pale yellow or these orange ones. Even though it meant a lot of buttonholes and button sewing. I think they are the perfect choice. 

You can't see it when it's all buttoned up but the second from the top buttonhole is the one I had to pick out four times. It's actually still slightly wonky but I was afraid I was going to damage te fabric if I picked out any more stitches.

And the pockets? Love them. They are perfectly sized and perfectly placed. If pockets hadn't been included I probably would have added them in a future version.

For all the wonderful and special details the Maggie May is a pretty easy sew. I will definitely be making a couple of few more.

I have quite a bit of the Blossom Festival in the pink colorway. I think it would be GORGEOUS and on trend with a navy blue top and bottom. Maybe in maxi length.

I also picture white, red piping, black maybe more red piping and black again.

I have to say I'm a weensie bit jealous of Wub. If my pattern making skills were a little stronger I'd attempt a grown up version. Oh well maybe they'll come up with a plus size version. I'd definitely buy that.

Did I mention the pleats?
And the pockets?

Yup, we love it and would absolutely recommend it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Surprise in the middle...

As a child this was my favorite commercial EVER.

Plus I love Tootsie Pops anyway. Sweet tangy lollipops with a delightfully chewy, chocolate center. Who can resist?

So when I read that Project and Run and Play's theme for Week 2 was candy inspired. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I wanted something Vanellope Von Schweetz inspired. Young, sassy, stripey, modern but still incredibly sweet. In my mind I planned a pair of candy striped leggings, a fluffy tutu embellished with candy findings and raglan tee with a freezer paper stencil of a piece of hard candy wrapping across the front and side.

What does this have to do with Tootsie Pops you ask? Not much at all.

Wub's school uniform policy is pretty easy to follow. Solid colored polos or blouses with collars and sleeves and uniform style pants, capris, shorts, skorts, skirts or jumpers in khaki, black or navy.

The one thing I don't like about the uniform policy is it makes it hard to put her in something "special". (Which I know is the point.) On picture day I made her this blouse.

The beautiful piping on the peter pan collar and triangle buttons made it extra special without  breaking any school rules. I did bend them slightly with the fabric choice. It's a white on white floral ditsy print. Technically prints are not allowed but this is so subtle it reads as white until you are right up on it.
We have a lot of uniform skirts because Wub is in a size that doesn't actually exist. Size 6 and a half waist with size 5 leg length would be the perfect size. Therefore making her uniform pants is pretty necessary.

I was at JoAnn's buying some lovely navy (My favorite on her because it plays up the pink tones in her skin.) stretch twill to make Wub some uniform pants from Blank Slate Patterns W pants pattern.  When I also discovered some wonderful fabric that threw my original idea out the window.

My brain started churning. How can I make something that's so everyday, like her uniform, special? I needed to do it so Wub wouldn't have issues but that she would know about anyway. Then I set about to sneak some candy into class.

I used a vintage pattern (Butterick 5776) I bought at Goodwill for either 50¢ or a dime and proceeded to stupidly follow the directions on the pattern instead of using my own good sense. The sewing/basting rip out took roughly 3 more hours then it should have.

 I will note here. If your pattern says "Sew skirt sides together, then make pleats and baste them down, then pick out all the basting once the dress is put together, then hem." Your pattern instructions are stupid. Hem first. Then pleats. Then sew sides together. Really The other way lies madness and we don't need that now do we?

Other than that bit it went together pretty easy and I ended up with this:

But wait...

What's that peeking out? Is it...

Wise Mr. Owl?

It is. It's the sweet surprise center of Wub's uniform jumper.

And...the world may never know.