Sunday, April 30, 2017

T-shirt and Jeans Picnic Blanket

The weather has finally warmed up here and it feels like spring.  Some days it even feels like summer.  We are spending more time outside, so it was a perfect time to finish this t-shirt and jeans picnic blanket. 

I actually started this project over a year ago.  After my last t-shirt quilt I still had a lot of t-shirts left to upcycle.  Mostly ones the kids grew out of, but some of my old ones too.  This time, however, I decided to combine them with denim.  I didn't have as many jeans to upcycle as I had t-shirts, so I ended up supplementing with some unused denim from my stash and a couple of XL men's jeans from Goodwill.

My construction method was inspired by this quilt in denim and flannel.  Each rectangle in the quilt is simply a t-shirt piece on top of a denim piece, wrong sides together.  To sew the squares together I put the denim sides of two squares together and sewed through all four pieces.  Then on the t-shirt side, I opened up the seam and sewed the denim down.

I began by cutting the shirt fronts into squares and rectangles of whatever size worked best for the particular shirt that I was cutting. I cut denim rectangles to match each t-shirt rectangle.  Once I had a lot of rectangles cut, I began to group them by width and sew them into strips 24" long.  I had to trim some rectangles down to get the width I needed and had to fill in with rectangles of the specific size needed to fill out a strip.  Once I had enough 24" strips I laid them out in three rows and sewed them together.

At this point I realized my blanket wasn't wide enough, but I had run out of t-shirts and motivation, so the project stalled for a while.  I finally got back to it just a few weeks ago, adding a 12" wide strip down the right side to make the blanket feel proportional.  To finish it off I cut up one leg of a pair of jeans into 1 1/8" wide strips to make binding for the quilt. I simply folded the binding around the edge and sewed it on with a zig zag stitch.

And this is the finished blanket. 

I love projects like this that both avoid waste and preserve memories.  There are several shirts in here that I made for the kids, so I especially like being able to keep them and continue to get use out of them.  In the picture above you can see a piece of the sunglasses tee from this post and the shark tee from this post.

I also love the back of this blanket.  The various shades of denim, many of which have variations within the piece due to fading, and the few pops of red are really fun and give the back a lot of character.

The frayed edges of the denim give the blanket a casual feel that is perfect for a blanket that we'll be laying out on the ground. Hopefully this is a blanket we'll get a lot of use out of. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fall Jackets

It is fall in my part of the world and the weather has turned cooler.  The change of seasons always seems to bring a lot of chores - putting the summer clothes away, bringing the cool weather clothes down - and while I'm up in the attic I notice that there is a lot of stuff that we probably don't need anymore, and when was the last time I cleaned up here?  Which is all to say that I actually haven't been spending much time sewing lately.  I sewed these jackets a month or two ago and just haven't had decent pictures to share until now.

I enjoy sewing jackets for the kids because they get a lot of use - the kids have been wearing these jackets multiple times a week.  I also like all the little finishing touches, like pocket welts and top-stitching seams that makes them look polished.

I sewed the little guy a red and black jacket that we have been calling the "Deadpool Jacket."  I used the Jalie 2795 hoodie pattern. The front, back and sleeves of the pattern are each made up of multiple panels, which makes it a great pattern for color blocking. 

I used black and red sweatshirt fleece for the body of the jacket.  The zipper is grey because that's what I had on hand. The cuffs and pocket welts are black ribbing.  The jacket is not lined, but the seams are all serged and then top-stitched, which gives the jacket a polished look even without a lining.

The big kid requested a shiny silver jacket.  I used a metallic silver spandex that I have used before - although never on this scale.  I lined it with a grey heather jersey that was once a jersey sheet.  If it had been up to me, I would have lined it with something that would have contrasted with the silver, but the big kid was making the fabric choices, so that's grey it is.

The pattern is from Kwik-Sew's Sewing for Children, which has patterns for all kinds of staple clothing items, with lots of instructions for making variations of the basic patterns.  The sizing is a little out-dated (shirts are really wide, pants taper)  but once you know that you can adjust the fit -- the book even includes directions for adjusting length and width.

The jackets have already been getting a lot of use, and, absent a giant growth spurt, should serve the kids well in the spring too.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bottoms Up(cycle) Quilt

I have been on a bit of an upcycling kick lately.  I'd really prefer not to throw anything away if it still can be used in some way.  That is especially true of clothes.   I will donate clothes that are in good condition, but some of the kids' clothes are too worn by the time they are done with them to give away, and, of course, some clothes have sentimental value.  I'd also rather keep the things that I made for the kids and make something else with them than donate them.   So, I stash them in a drawer or a bin in my sewing room until I can think of something to do with them.

Last year I made this quilt and used up a good portion of my stash of kids' t-shirts.  I still had a lot of pants that I didn't know what to do with though. Then when we were visiting my parents in California this past winter I took this picture of the kids:

I put it on the lock screen on my phone and, after looking at it daily for a couple months, I got the idea to make a quilt using the colors in the photo.  I started looking at my fabric stash to see what I had that would work, but then I realized that the kids' old pants actually had most of the colors in the photo: Sand, blue, green, grey, brown.  So I decided this quilt would be a perfect upcycling project for all those old kids' pants that I didn't know what to do with.

 Because some of the pants I wanted to upcycle were toddler sized, I knew I wouldn't be able to get very large cuts out of them.  I decided to cut pieces 3.5" x 6.5" and pair them together to make 6" finished blocks. I threw in some bottom-weight fabric scraps I had lying around as well to fill out some of the colors.

Once I cut up all the pants I sewed them together in pairs that I felt went together - for example, sand would be next to water or plants, so I would sew the sand colors to either blue or green and I sewed darker blues to lighter blues.  Once I had all my blocks sewn I played around with the arrangement a bit.  At first I thought I wanted a more literal representation of the coastline, but I wasn't happy with how it looked:

So I eventually settled on a more random arrangement:

I used Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Solid Denim for the back and quilted it in a stair step pattern following the lines of the blocks. 

I bound the edges with an army green twill that I think I got from the remnant bin at Jo-Ann's. 

The quilt is 10 squares on a side, so it finishes at 60" square.  I love all the different textures that the pants add and the soft flannel on the back. I'm sure I will enjoy snuggling under it when the weather gets cool again.  For now, though, I just like to run my hand over it and see the all fabrics memories.
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