Recently, I discovered the wonderful world of knit fabric, and the secret society of knit Facebook groups. In these groups, you get fabric for cheaper prices by placing (and paying) pre-orders and then waiting anywhere from 4-10 weeks for your fabric to arrive. These groups sell fabric by the yard, but many also sell panels. I wasn’t sure what these panels were at first, but OMG- they are fabulous, and compliment the fabrics they’re designed to match perfectly. Last month, I ordered a yard of the mighty machines fabric from Peekaboo Pattern Shop and a matching panel. The panels from this shop are different from most others because they’re twice the size of most (20″ by 28″), providing fabric for the front and back of a shirt. I mentioned this shop in a previous post, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you must. I purchased the Maui Muscle Tee pattern to use and both Zac and I are in love with the finished product. The shorts are from Brindle & Twig, and are one of my favorite patterns at the moment. They work great for boys and girls, and use no elastic- only lycra/cotton jersey fabric. Super comfortable and I think we’ll get 2 years wear out of the 3t/4t size for Zac. If you want to try out any of the patterns from Peekaboo Pattern Shop, use my referral link for 15% off your first purchase. Happy shopping!!
When I was pregnant with my son, I discovered Etsy. I loved the idea of getting unique one-of-a-kind items that you couldn’t find in retail stores. Some of my first purchases were knit hats that we used for Zac’s newborn photo session.
As he grew, I continued to shop on Etsy (especially for photo session outfits). It wasn’t until I opened my own Etsy shop I realized how important shopping small really is, and the value in supporting small businesses.
These days, I make a lot of Zac’s clothes, but I LOVE buying items from small shops too. I’ve also had the joy to participate in a few trades and love swapping items with fellow Etsy shops. Recently, I got the idea to challenge myself to dress Zac in only items made either by me, or from other small shops. It will take some planning, so I’m starting now- today actually, with this blog post. This year, I want to make the month of September, the month to encourage myself, friends, family, and followers to shop small. I’ll be using the hashtag: #ShopSmallSeptember on Facebook and Instagram to help advertise, and I encourage you to do the same.
I realize that a month is a long time, but you have time to plan. Can’t commit to a month? I get it- try a week, or maybe just the weekends. This summer we are in survival mode, but once school gets started again I plan on offering some coupon codes and promotions for Shop Small September, so stay tuned!
Here are some of my favorite shirts from some of my favorite small shops. Miracle Baby tee is from Tink & Key, Why fit in? and Forever Young are from The Blue Envelope, and the Independent tee is from Riverband Threads. The Pete the Cat pants, triangle pants, and stars and stripes shorts are made by me. :)
I have several friends who also sew, and one thing I’ve heard over and over is how terrified people are to sew with knits. Raise your hand if this is you… It used to be me too, but not anymore. I LOVE knit fabric, and the possibilities are endless as to what you can create. I haven’t sewn with knits for long, but in the past 6 months I’ve learned a lot and want to share it with you.
Don’t be afraid!
Seriously, if you can sew with cotton fabric, you can sew with knit. I recommend (if you haven’t already), invest in a quality cutting mat, rotary cutter, and straight edge. These are really musts for anybody who sews, but especially with knits. Depending on what I’m making, I need to change my rotary blade often, and that’s OK. I love my serger for sewing with knits, but it isn’t a must. I promise, it’s addicting and you won’t regret purchasing one. I have the Brother 1034D, and it was less than $200 on Amazon. Prime shipping will get one to your door in 48 hours or less. ;-)
Different types of knits
Jersey knit is sort of a generic term for the stretchy fabric that t-shirts and leggings are made out of, but there are different types of knits and they’re used for different things.
- Cotton/Lycra blend- often called 95/5 (95% cotton, 5% lycra or spandex) is my favorite. It has excellent stretch and recovery and I use it whenever possible. It is great for pants for kids and grownups too.
- Sweatshirt Fleece- just what it sounds like. It’s fuzzy on the back and is what sweatshirts and sweatpants are made out of.
- Hacci Sweater Knit- unlike the sweatshirt knit, this is not like a typical sweater fabric. It’s thin and silky. I’ve used it for children’s clothing before, but it’s great for scarves or women’s tops.
- Interlock- a variation of rib knit construction. Double knit constructions makes it a thicker fabric with a tight weave. It’s a great fabric to start with if knits make you nervous.
Quality fabric is worth the price
I’ve sewn with a lot of different types of fabrics from a lot of different suppliers, and the one thing I learned is that there is a reason cheap fabric is cheap. Something else to remember when buying any type of knit fabric is that you get a lot more per yard than typical fabrics, so take that into consideration when looking at the price. Normal jersey fabric is 58″ to 60″ wide. When making children’s pants, I can usually get 4 pairs of pants out of a yard of fabric, so it goes a long way.
The secret world of custom fabric
I’m part of several Facebook groups that pertain to sewing and embroidery. I was always seeing people post pictures of children’s items they crated with super cute fabrics that I could not find in stores. I recently unlocked the secret, and today I’m sharing that secret with you. There are Facebook groups for custom knit fabrics. I’m a member of at least a dozen, probably more, and then there are B/S/T (buy, sell, trade) groups for those groups too. These groups offer pre-sales of fabrics, offering them at usually $20 a yard. Once the pre-sale closes, the fabrics are printed, and then in 6-8 weeks they show up at your door. Don’t want to wait that long? That’s where the B/S/T groups come into play, BUT you will pay more for these fabrics later. I’ve seen some fabrics going as high as $100 a yard, but usually there is a 25% to 50% markup. The great thing about the B/S/T pages is that people offer FHs (FH stands for fat half, and it’s a half yard cut longways, so approximately 30″ by 36″), and you can get great fabrics for cheaper prices. A great place to start is the Knit Destash group on Facebook. Go check it out!
Working with a pattern
I love making clothes for my son. Trust me when I say that it’s worth it to pay money for a great pattern. Here are some of my favorite pattern shops!
- Max and Meena
- Brindle & Twig
- Peekaboo Pattern Shop– she also sells custom knit fabrics and they are fabulous!
I hope that this was helpful and inspires you to take the plunge. Here is a pic of Zac with his new Big Hero 6 pajamas. Shirt is raglan tee pattern from Brindle & Twig, pants are maxaloones, and the fabric is from Sew Cute Fabrics on Facebook.
The first weeks of summer are when I get projects done. I think it goes back to my days teaching, and waiting for summertime to conquer my projects. 9 years ago, my husband and I bought our first (and only) house. We felt the need to fill it with furniture even though we didn’t really have the extra cash to do so. One of our first purchases was a new kitchen table. A kitchen able should be something you invest money in because it takes a lot of wear and tear. We did not… It didn’t take long for our new table didn’t look new anymore, but we just lived with it. Perhaps you’re in the same situation. Well, if you are, keep reading!! A few months ago, I was browsing pinterest and this picture came up. I immediately fell in love. I desperately want a farmhouse table, but I know this house isn’t our forever home and don’t want to invest the money until we move. This project looked so easy- paint and slap some wood on top (my husband is a woodworker so he could help).
Much to my disappointment, my husband pointed out that the grooves in that table would be a magnet for crumbs and the other gunk that our toddler leaves behind. So, back to Pinterest I went for new inspiration and I found this-
I loved the contrast of the chairs to the table. Our kitchen walls are painted a light blue, our cabinets and floor are a dark wood, and I have orange accents in the kitchen. I considered orange chairs for a pop of color, but didn’t like the way that looked with the floors and cabinets. Matching a blue to coordinate with the wall would be too difficult, so I thought I’d play it safe and just go with grey. When I googled grey chairs/white table, this picture came up and I knew we had a winner.
I went to Lowes and bought some supplies, 4 cans of Valspar satin spray paint. It’s a paint plus primer and seriously the best. I did a couple of coats of the paint on the chairs. All of this was done the Sunday before Memorial Day. I woke up, told my husband- “hey, I think I’m going to start the table project”, and by dinnertime the chairs were painted. He’s come to understand that this is how I work. I get an idea and run with it. While we were at Lowes that morning, I picked up several (ok, probably 30) paint swatches for different greys. We decided on “armitage grey” from the HGTV Home collection by Sherwin Williams. Monday night I primed the table. I had primer left over from my guest room makeover project last spring, and Tuesday I painted the table grey. During all of this, we ate our meals in the family room. :)
I let the paint dry a couple days before I put on 3 layers of polyurethane. I needed durability, and didn’t necessarily want a lot of shine, so after talking with the wonderful people at Lowes, I went with a semi gloss. It went on really easily and the smell was almost nonexistent. Best part is, it dried in 2 hours! They recommend 48 hours before using the table, and 7 days for it to fully cure, so we continued to eat in the family room through the following weekend. The final touches were placemats and seat cushions. I loved the grey and white, but it needed some color. I spent probably $60 on painting supplies for the table and chairs and felt I could splurge a little for cushions. I am so glad I did because I LOVE how this turned out.
Happy Tuesday friends! Life here has been busy, hence the lack of blogging. Today I was finishing up some towels and thought it would make a great tutorial, so here we are.
Right around the time my son turned 1, all the cute hooded towels I got when he was a newborn magically shrunk (I refused to believe my baby grew), and I was in the hunt for new ones. I found some at Khols, but just like so many things in my life, I realized I could totally make them myself. Today is your lucky day because I’m going to teach you too.
- Full sized bath towel ($5 at Walmart)
- Hand towel ($3 at Walmart)
- Sewing machine
- Serger (not necessary but helpful)
- Embroidery machine (optional)
I embroider my towels. This is not necessary and I’ve seen tons of Pinterest tutorials with ribbons or other decorative accents on the hoods. There are also tutorials on Pinterest where you get two hoods out of a single hand towel. Warning- if you do not have a serger, your towels will fray, especially doing it that way. I personally find my way easier and if you don’t have a serger, your seams are hidden with my method.
So, here we go. I take my hand towel and fold it over, leaving one or two fingers of clearance at the bottom. I then eyeball and sew around the sides and top with my sewing machine.
Next, I trim around the edge and leave about 1/2 from the seam. After that, I serge around the edge. This step is optional!
You’re almost done!! Flip the hood back right-side-out, line it up to the middle of your towel, and sew a straight stitch to secure it.
Today is the day!!! Maxaloones are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop. I love these pants. Seriously, they’re the best. My son is tall and skinny, and the size 1’s (with some added length) fit his skinny bum perfectly. They’re designed to be adjustable in size, where the ankle bands fold and unfold, providing additional length.
I have issues where I like my son to be the best dressed one in his class. There is no competition or award, but I feel like I need to be the winner. A few weeks ago I found this shirt at Walmart, and then splurged on this organic jersey knit fabric from Spoon Flower. I thought together they’d be perfect for Valentine’s Day, but would work for pajamas too.
The fabric arrived Saturday and I wasted no time cutting it up to make pants. I’m in love. Seriously, this fabric is thick, stretchy, and oh so soft!! The pants are darling and they’re now up for sale on Etsy.
This weekend, my son brought home his class pet, Pete the Pony. He came with a notebook for us to journal about his weekend with us, so we took him to the park on Sunday. Zac wore his maxaloones that I finished up earlier that day. They were great for climbing, running, jumping, and sliding too.
A long time ago, I purchased a pattern from Etsy for Maxaloones (baby/toddler lounge pants). I then joined a Facebook group for people who make these pants. For months, I observed, and oohed and awed over their photographs. The week after Christmas I decided to give the pattern a shot and I was blown away by the result. I’ll go more in detail about why these pants are the best pants ever for little kids next week when I launch them in my Etsy shop, so stay tuned.
Yesterday, while procrastinating on other projects, I decided to see if I could make a pair of Maxaloones out of an old t-shirt. A quick walk through my closet and I knew just the shirt. I measured to make sure the front logo of the shirt would fit on the bum of the pants, and to play it safe I made them a size larger than what my son currently wears (a decision I now regret, but he’ll grow into them). So, here they are! I used a cotton/lycra jersey blend fabric for the waist and ankle bands. The lycra helps it to have a great stretch, making it so elastic or a draw string isn’t necessary. Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out. It’s always great to be able to reuse something old and give it new life.