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Operation Pajama Drawer: Appliqued Big Kid Tanks

Oh, my! I had so much fun with these! I started with my free The Tank pattern, but since it only goes to size 5, I had to grade it up a bit to Jamie’s size 8. (Would anyone else like to have this pattern in Big Kid Sizes?) Once I had the pattern ready, I dug coordinating knit fabrics out of my stash, and then the fun part started — designing appliques to match the fabrics in the pants that I made a few weeks ago! I like the way that these came out so much, I’m a little sad that they’re pajamas!These raw-edge appliques are really quick and simple to do. You just press Wonder Under or Heat N Bond Lite onto the back of your fabric, draw or trace your design on the back, cut it out, peal off the backing and press your applique to the clothing (or pattern piece). You can use a zig-zag stitch around the edges, but for these, I just used a regular stitch about 1/8″ to 1/4″ inside the edge. This way, those edges will fray a bit in the wash for a fun, casual, modern look.

Here are all of the tops with their coordinating Pajama Party PJ pants:Since these all fit the same, I let Jamie choose which set he would model for me, and he was quick to yell, “FOOTBALL!!” Like I did for Charlie, I added a tiny bit of extra length to these pants so that Jamie has some growing room. (Why do kids always seem to grow up way faster than they grow out?!)Taking pictures of Jamie is so much easier than taking pictures of Charlie.He’s so much more mature, and silliness is really just not a problem.Nope, no silliness here at all.So, how’s your Operation Pajama Drawer sewing coming along? Friday is the last day to load your pictures to the Fishsticks Designs Flickr Group for a chance to win a $35 gift card to Simplifi Fabric!

Operation Pajama Drawer: Wee Tot PJs & More Prep Work

Eek! There’s only a week left in the month, and I have lots more pajama sewing to do! I did get a Wee Tot Collection PJ set finished for Charlie yesterday, though, and all of the rest of the pajamas are cut out and ready to sew.

There’s one more knit set of PJs — Runaround Pants and a Patrick Raglan.There’s a pile of pieces to make the five tops to go with Jamie’s jammie pants from last week.And, last but far from least, Charlie’s and Jamie’s long-awaited Star Wars Pajama Party PJs are finally progressing.
The Wee Tot Set that Charlie is wearing above is sewn from Lillestoff Under Construction organic cotton jersey and solid turquoise interlock. I used the size 5 laptee and pants, but I added a bit of length to the shirt and doubled the width of the legbands so that I could fold them up for a little extra growing room!

New pajamas on — check! Camera in mom’s hand — check! Lollipop bribery ready and waiting — check! Commence silliness!

Operation Pajama Drawer: Pajama Party PJ Pants in a Jiffy

When you’re trying to fill up a pajama drawer quickly, sometimes you just need a quick, easy and straightforward pair of PJ pants! (I’ll be honest and say that I almost always sew our woven pajama pants using this method.) To get started, you just need to print the pants from the Pajama Party PJs pattern, then assemble and cut out the pattern pieces, except for the pocket. We’ll be skipping the side seam pocket on these to make them up fast.Now grab a ruler and a pencil. Because the seam allowance is 1/2″, you’re going to be overlapping your two pattern pieces 1″ total. Use your ruler and pencil to draw a straight line 1″ from the straight side of either pattern piece.Line the straight side of your second pattern piece up with the line that you just drew and tape the pieces together. (You may have a tiny little piece that pokes out the top, just trim that away so that you have a nice even angle.) Now you have a one-piece pants pattern.Use this one-piece pattern to cut the pieces from your fabric, being sure to cut one, then one reversed (so that you have a left and a right leg).Fold each piece over to match up their inseams and just follow the pattern instructions from there!Here are a few other little tips for sewing pajama pants quickly. First, if you have multiples to sew, cut them all out at the same time. I’ve found that assembly line sewing is way faster than doing one piece at a time. My only little caveat here is, “Don’t cut out multiples if you’re using a pattern that you’ve never sewn before!” Please, always cut and sew and test the finished sizing once before cutting out a pile of anything. Lastly, just use white thread. Especially if you’re sewing more than one pair of pants, changing thread colors will slow you way down! If you’re picky, then choose fabrics that will work nicely with white. Once your elastic is in the waist and the waistband gathers up, though, it’s not likely that you’re even going to notice the color of the thread.As a total random aside, I named this blog post because my granny used to always say that she was going to do something “in a jiffy”. She just meant that it was going to get done quickly. I started wondering though what that means exactly, and apparently it is an actual measurement with different meanings in computing, astrophysics and quantum physics. In computing, a jiffy is the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. Typically, this time is 0.01 seconds. (Source.) Sewing pajama pants this way is fast, but not that fast!

Operation Pajama Drawer: Pajama Pants A-Plenty

How’s your Operation Pajama Drawer sewing coming along? Since this past weekend was a three-day one for us, I thought I’d go ahead and get Jamie’s pile of pajama pants all done! We ended up doing so many projects around the house, though, I barely had time to squeeze in an hour of sewing time a day. It’s a good thing that these sew up quickly. (Tomorrow, I’m going to share a quick little tutorial for how I make PJ Pants in a Jiffy using a slightly modified version of the Pajama Party PJ Pants pattern.)

The photo below is my big pile of PJ pants pieces on Friday evening. The photo above is what the pants looked like when I went to bed last night — just waiting patiently for their elastic and cuffs.I was able to wrap them up in no time this morning, and now Jamie has five new pairs of jammie pants. (Why, yes. Yes, I did notice that the mustaches are upside down, but not until I was pulling the elastic through its channel. At least I was consistent and cut all of the mustaches upside down in the same manner.) No modeling shots of these because Jamie announced as I was wrapping them up that he’d really like to have shirts to go with them . . . hmmmm . . . I can do that. Who needs to sleep when there’s sewing to be done.

Operation Pajama Drawer: Firefighter Lazy Days

I should subtitle this post, “Four-year-olds do not stand still.”  Or rather, “Three-year-olds do not stand still on the eve of their fourth birthdays because they’re overflowing with excitement.” This little guy cracks me up, and I can’t believe he’s four years old already! His new size 5T Lazy Days Lounge Set is sewn with organic cotton Lillestoff stretch jersey from Simplifi Fabrics and organic cotton interlock trim from Organic Cotton Plus.  I did add about 1/2″ in length to the top and the pants since Charlie is really tall, and I’m hoping these will fit for a while.

I’m going to keep this post short and let these silly pictures do the talking! (I have birthday baking and shopping to do! Charlie has requested a brownie cake with chocolate frosting and “red guys”. The cake I can handle. As for the red guys, I’m hoping Target has some good choices!)Oh, wait! One more thing . . . it’s noon now, and he’s refusing to take off his new jammies. I think that means he likes them!

Operation Pajama Drawer

I have a little confession to make. Do you remember when I sewed Charlie’s and Jamie’s whole summer wardrobes almost three years ago? Summer Wardrobe Wrap-Up 2011 Jamie is still squeezing himself into those size 5T PJs . . . and he’s seven! I have made him a few new pairs of pajamas since then, but if I don’t keep up with the laundry, he’s right back to looking like the Incredible Hulk, bursting out of his clothes. At least people don’t generally see him in his jammies, right? And, Charlie? Well, Charlie was really blessed that I ran across some store-bought PJs on sale recently, or he’d be sleeping in nothing but a diaper. It’s a good thing we live in Florida, huh?

Enter Operation Pajama Drawer! It is time for me to fill up those drawers so my little guys can sleep in mama-made comfort and style again. Who’s up for sewing along with me? How about if I offer a prize? Start thinking about which of your little ones needs new PJs, and I’ll be back later this week with some details about joining in.

I’ll be sharing some pattern-addition tutorials along the way, too. I’ve got an amazing guest tutorial coming tomorrow! If you live somewhere other than Florida, and your kiddos’ toes get cold at night, this one is just for you.

In the meantime, here’s my Operation Pajama Drawer plan:Jamie mostly sleeps in pajama pants without a shirt, so he’s getting five pairs of woven pajama pants made from fabrics he chose from my stash. I’m thinking that I’ll make them long pants for now, then shorten them for the summer. (And, by “shorten them for summer” what I probably really mean is “shorten them in a year or so, when I suddenly notice that the long-pant length has become capri-length”.)Charlie is getting four pairs of knit PJs, sewn with these adorable organic-cotton Lillestoff prints from Simplifi Fabric combined with some solid organic cotton interlock from Organic Cotton Plus. I haven’t decided yet which of my patterns I’ll use for which prints.Finally, both boys have demanded that I sew them Pajama Party PJs from this Star Wars: The Clone Wars flannel that I picked up at Joann’s . . . um . . . a long time ago.

Okay, that’s enough procrastination confession for today. Time to get sewing!

Twin Needle Hemming – A Tutorial

I originally shared this information as part of the Charlie Tee Sew-along in July of 2013, but I thought it deserved to be turned into a stand-alone tutorial so that it’s easy for you to refer to when necessary. The twin needle is a perfect choice for hemming knits, not only because it gives your sewing a beautiful finished look, but also because it gives you two rows of stitches on the front (see above), and a nice stretchy zig-zag on the back (see below). That stretch in the twin needle hem goes a long way in helping to prevent popped stitches.Let’s get started! First you need a few tools: a twin needle (also referred to as a double needle), your regular spool of thread and a second source of thread (I use a bobbin). Since you’re working with knits, it’s best to use a ballpoint or stretch twin needle. Those are hard to find locally, but they are pretty easy to find online: stretch twin needle, ballpoint twin needle. I prefer the 4.0 mm twin needle — that number refers to the measurement between the left and right needles. You can use a 2.5 mm if you’d like your stitches closer together.Some sewing machines, like mine, have a button or switch that needs to be pushed to change from single to double-needle sewing. Here’s what that button looks like on my machine. Go ahead and press that button. Remove your single needle and replace it with the twin needle.Many sewists put both thread sources on the pin that holds your regular spool. On my machine the threads tend to tangle when I do it this way.Some machines have a extra removeable pin just for a second spool of thread. I think mine did at one time, but I’m not sure where it’s disappeared to. It’s not a problem, though, since I’m using a bobbin for my second thread. I just pop that bobbin onto the bobbin-winding pin with the thread feeding towards the front of the machine.You can thread the twin needle by pulling both threads through as one. My machine is a little bit picky, though, and I’ve had to work with it until I found the best way to thread the twin needle. What I do is thread the left needle first from the spool of thread, then I press and hold that thread in place on top of the machine just before it enters the guides while I thread the right needle from the bobbin.Once I have both needles threaded, I pull the threads back away from the machine as one.Now that your twin needle is threaded, we’re ready to get hemming! I serge the raw edges of my hems, but that is purely for aesthetic reasons. (I like for the inside of my garments to look as nice as the outside.) Because knits don’t fray, you can totally skip this step if you want to.With a hot steam iron, press your hem allowance to the inside. If your knit is particularly stretchy or uncooperative, use a little spray starch when you iron.Because we’re going to be stitching on the right side of the fabric, and I don’t want to sew over my pins, I use long pins and position them so that the heads hang off of the folded edge. This way, I can make sure that the hem is pinned properly, and I can remove them as I get to them while I’m sewing.I like to start my hems about 1/2″ in from the edge of the fabric. Set your stitch length to 3.0 or 3.5. (Shorter stitch lengths stretch fabrics.) I backstitch about 1/4″, then stitch all the way across feeling through the fabrics to make sure that my stitching is falling just inside the raw edge on the underside of the fabric. I stop stitching about 1/4″ from the opposite side, backstitch to 1/2″ then sew forward again to the end. (Starting your stitching a bit in from the edge will help to keep your machine from “eating” the end of your knit fabrics. Backstitching to 1/2″ will help make sure that you don’t chop off your fastening stitches when you serge later.)Be careful not to stretch or pull your fabrics as you’re sewing. Just guide and let the feed-dogs pull them through. (This is much easier with a walking foot!) Pulling on your fabrics while you’re sewing can lead to hems that look like this:What you really want, though, is hems that look like this:That wasn’t too hard was it?

It’s a New Year Sew-along at Sew Can She: My Finished Pillow

I am so excited to share my finished It’s a New Year Sew-along pillow. I adore it! This is definitely one of those projects that I needed the motivation of a sew-along to finish, though. I am so not one to tackle sewing anything that requires lots of tiny pieces. There was a bit of grumbling in my sewing studio over how teeny these finished blocks were, but I am so glad to have done it. I’m in awe of the ladies in this sew-along who made whole quilts!

Once I had all of my blocks finished, I started playing around with the layout, and I was amazed at how much the whole look changed when the blocks were arranged differently.Isn’t that cool? In the end, I went with the top right layout.Once my blocks were all pieced together, I added a piece of cotton batting and quilted down the middles of the outside strip in each block.After spending so much time on the front of the pillow, I felt like I had to do something exciting with the back, so I went hunting on Pinterest where I found this tutorial from Pile o’ Fabric: Adding a Zipper to a Quilted Pillow Sham. I generally just do cross-over sham-style closings, but this seemed easy enough to try out, and I loved the finished look that it gave the pillow.Seriously? This was so simple, I feel a little foolish that I haven’t been making pillow shams this way all along! (Feel free to ignore the fact that my top row does not line up with the rows under the zipper.)Here’s my finished mini-log cabin pillow doing a beautiful job of decorating the loveseat in my sewing studio.She has a few friends that I was inspired to stitch up, too! I’ll be sharing more about them next week.

Quilts & Lace on Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day

This past Saturday was Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day, so Samantha and I headed out to visit a local quilt shop that I’d found online, but hadn’t yet had a chance to see. Quilts and Lace is just a few minutes up the road from us, and I’m so excited to have found it. In my opinion, one of the best things about local quilt shops is walking into a shop and being welcomed in. Aira and Allan, the owners of Quilts and Lace, are just lovely! I loved getting to know them a bit, and I enjoyed watching and listening as they chatted with their other customers, answering questions and giving advice on sewing and sewing machines and just visiting. Allan even brewed up quick pot of coffee for a waiting husband while Aira helped the wife with a machine that she was purchasing! The shop carries both Brother and Babylock sewing machines, and their selection runs all the way from just-starting-out machines to sewing-is-my-life machines. They also have an incredible stock of threads, needles, patterns, notions and every sewing supply you could possibly need.There’s a nice fabric selection with great variety and some beautiful choices.They even carry designer knit fabrics!And, over on one of the pattern racks at Quilts and Lace, I found the Fishsticks Designs Charlie Tee & Hoodie pattern! In addition to machines, fabric and notions, Quilts and Lace offers an array of sewing classes and special events. Their classes teach everything from sewing machine basics to serging techniques, along with quilting, embroidery and more.

Have you visited your local quilt shop lately? You should really drop in and see what they have to offer. You might learn a new skill, find a new favorite fabric and maybe even make some new friends!

Comfy Pants for the Whole Family at Cutting Corners College!

I am so, so excited to be teaching at Riley Blake’s Cutting Corners College today! I would love if you’d click over and check out my tutorial for making comfortable knit pants for your whole family. There are tips for sewing with knit fabrics, instructions for making an elastic-free waistband, and directions for making your own pattern using a good-fitting pair of pants! Just click right here: Comfy Pants for the Whole Family

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