Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to Make an Adjustable Chef's Hat for Kids

This is a tutorial for the third and last part of the Kitchen Ensemble 
playwear - the chef's hat. No pleats in the crown of this one, though - 
just simple gathers. The headband is made adjustable with velcro 
straps. This is not an easy project to sew, and even harder to explain. 
I apologize for making the process more complex 
than it might have needed to be.

You will need:
  • Half a yard of fabric that has some weight- maybe something between quilting cotton and home decor fabric, cut into
        -- A circle 17" in diameter (shown folded in half in the picture)
        -- Two rectangles 23" x 4"
  • A piece of fusible interfacing 22" x 3" 
  • 2 pieces of velcro 2.5" long (loop)
  • 1 piece of velcro 2.5" long (hook)
  • 4" of 1/4" bias tape in a color that matches the fabric
  • Measuring tape

Part I
The Headband

Step 1
  • Place the interfacing shiny side down on the wrong side of one of the rectangles so that there is 1/2" border of fabric all around the interfacing.
  • Run a hot iron over the interfacing, bonding it to the fabric.

Step 2
  • Turn the rectangle over and place the two pieces of loop velcro so that 
-- they are on the right side of the fabric
-- they are parallel to the long side of the rectangle
-- they are 3/4" apart and equidistant from either of the long sides of the rectangle
-- their ends are 3/4" from one short side  of the rectangle

In the picture below, this is the top rectangle.
  • Sew around the edge of the velcro pieces to attach them to the fabric.

Step 3
  • Place the other fabric rectangle right side up.
  • Place the piece of hook velcro parallel to one short side of this second rectangle. Position it 3/4" from the short edge and center it vertically. 
  • Pin and sew the edges to attach it to the fabric. 
In the picture below, this is the lower rectangle.

Step 4
  • Lay it aside (hurrah).

Part II 
The Crown
You will be working entirely on the 17" fabric circle now.

Step 5
  • Take the 4" bit of bias tape and sew it onto the circumference of the circle like you would attach bias tape to any raw edge. It does not matter which section of the circumference you pick. This will be the part of the circumference that will be eventually be exposed within the adjustable region of the headband, and you want it to be finished rather than fraying.

Step 6
  • Set your stitch length to the longest possible (6 on my machine) and sew one line of stitches 1/8" from the edge and all round the circumference except where the bias tape is. In other words, start sewing just next to where the bias tape ends, and go round till you reach the other end of the bias tape and stop.
  • Leave  at least 4" of thread trailing from the bobbin and the needle when you cut the threads. You will need this length of thread for gathering the fabric later.
  • Sew a second line of stitches about 1/4" from the first (and further in from the edge) all around the circle, again avoiding the bias tape. Again leave 4" of trailing thread when you cut.
  • Adjust the stitch length back to normal.

The picture below shows a section of the circumference with the two lines of stitching.

Step 7
  • With one hand, take either the upper or lower threads from one end of both lines of stitching and pull gently, while gathering the fabric with the other hand so that the edge of the circle begins to pucker and curl inwards. Work till you have gathered the fabric evenly around the circumference - the section with the bias tape will alone remain ungathered. It might help to do half the circle at a time, pulling the threads from both ends of the double line of stitching to gather the whole circle.

  • The aim of this step is to turn the flat circle of fabric into this shower cap-looking thing:
  • You can see the long trailing threads on either side of the bias tape section where they've been pulled to gather the fabric.

Step 8
  • Measure a section on the bias tape that is 2" long as shown. Mark the boundaries of this 2" section. Try to make it as centralized as possible i.e. with about 1" on each side of the marks (shown in red).

Step 9
Because this crown (aka shower cap) needs to fit the headband (22" long) we sewed in the earlier steps, we need the circumference of the gathered circle to be 22". 
  • So with the measuring tape, adjust the gathers so that the circumference is 22" around from one red mark to the other. Pull the long trailing threads and gather more if it is too big, or loosen the gathers if it is too small. The picture below hopefully helps illustrate what is needed:

Step 10
So now you have this shower cap thing that has a 24" opening: 22" of it is gathered fabric, and 2" of it is a bias-tape covered straight edge, right?

  • Knot the trailing threads (the ones you pulled to gather) in such a way that the gathers can no longer be loosened. You want the opening to stay 24".

The crown is now finished!

Part III
Attaching the crown to the headband
This part is fast but could be confusing. This is a good time to make a cup of strong tea (or coffee) and wash it down with vast quantities of high quality dark chocolate.

You are going to sandwich the crown between the two rectangles that form the headband. The important thing to remember (and which will save much gnashing of teeth later) is that the velcro ends have to be opposite. Perhaps the picture below might help explain: ignoring the pins - they are there to keep the fabric from separating inappropriately - one rectangle (the one below) has velcro at its end and the other (peeled back) does not.

Grr.. dare we continue?
OK, here goes:

Step 11
  • Take one rectangle with the interfacing and, beginning with the end with the velcro, place against the outside of the crown as shown so that
-- the right side of the rectangle is facing the crown
-- its long edge is lined up with the gathered edge of the crown
-- one red mark on the bias tape is 1/2" from the short edge of the rectangle (the blue pin is 1/2" from the edge of the rectangle)

  • Pin all the way around the edge of the crown so that the other short edge of the rectangle ends 1/2" beyond the other red mark on the bias tape.

Step 12
  • Take the other rectangle and, beginning with the end without the velcro, place it against the inside of the crown so that
-- the right side of the rectangle is facing the inside of the crown
-- its long edge is lined up with the gathered edge of the crown and the edge of other rectangle
-- the same red mark that you began with the first rectangle is 1/2" from this short edge of the second rectangle. In other words, the two rectangles are lined up but one is outside the crown and the other is inside.
  • Pin all the way around the crown.

The picture below shows a close up of the three sandwiched layers: inner rectangle, gathered crown, outer rectangle.
Top view

View of top and side, showing the interfacing

Step 13
  • Sew a line of stitches 1/2" from this edge all along the length of the rectangle, stopping 1/2" from either end.
  • Remove the pins and fold the rectangles down so that their right sides face out. The hat should look something like this: 
You should have 
  • a crown that has all its fraying edges tucked into the headband
  • the headband going all the way around the crown except for the 2" section that has the bias tape
  • the headband that has velcro on opposite ends
  • the headband that has one long side sewn and the other long side and both short sides unsewn.

So far, so good.

Step 14
  • In this step, you are going to sew up the three unsewn sides of the headband by folding a 1/2" hem all round and tucking the raw edges of the fold between the two rectangles. 
  • Fold in the corners as neatly as you can.
  • Top stitch all round these three sides. The picture below shows the edges folded in 1/2" and stitched over.

The hat is finished, believe it or not -

with the adjustable opening open

and closed

and worn by a 4-year old

Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Make Kids' Oven Mitts

These oven mitts are meant for pretend play only and children 
wearing them should not be allowed to handle hot objects. 
Although actually children should not be allowed to handle hot 
objects, period, with or without oven mitts. Duh.

That disclaimer made, here's what you need:
  • About a quarter yard of fabric. If you are using different fabric for the inside (hereafter called "lining") and outside (hereafter called "outer fabric") of the mitts, then you need even less of each.
  • Sufficient batting for four oven mitt shapes
  • About 25" of 1/4" bias tape

Here's the pattern I used. If you print it out so it fills an 8.5" x 11" sheet, 
it is the right size.
You will be cutting along the dotted line and sewing on the solid line.
Step 1
  • Cut four mitt shapes from the outer fabric, remembering to make two mirror images of the other two. 
  • Cut four mitt shapes from the lining, also remembering to make two mirror images of the other two. I find it helpful to cut the lining pieces a little bigger than the outer fabric pieces to allow for shifting during the quilting process. See the picture below - the white lining piece is much bigger than the colorful outer fabric piece.
Step 2
  • Cut four pieces of batting big enough to cover the lining pieces. 
  • Insert a piece of batting between a lining piece and an outer fabric piece. 
  • Repeat with the other three pieces of batting till you have four sandwiches of outer fabric, batting and lining.

Step 3
  • Take one sandwich and pin the layers together. 
  • Sew parallel lines about 2" apart in one direction. 
  • Turn the sandwich 90 degrees and sew parallel lines 2" apart but at right angles to the original lines, making squares. In the picture below, you can see the first set of completed parallel lines running east to west and the needle sewing the second set of parallel lines running north to south. My machine has that little quilting bar to help keep the distances constant.

Step 4
  • Top stitch around the perimeter of the entire sandwich, about 1/8" from the edge.

When completed, the front and back of the sandwich 
should resemble the pictures below:

Step 5
  • Trim close to the edge of the upper fabric piece, cutting off the excess lining and batting.

Step 6 
  • Repeat steps 3-5 to get a second quilted sandwich in mirror image of the first:

Note: If you buy ready-quilted fabric, you really can skip steps 1-6 and just cut 4 mitt-shaped pieces from it and proceed to step 7.

Step 7
  • Put the two sandwiches together so that the outer fabrics are together and the lining sides are facing out. 
  • Pin to secure.
  • Sew around the perimeter 1/4" from the edge, leaving the straight bottom opening unsewn.

Step 8
  • Serge or zig-zag stitch the raw edges.

Step 9
  • Snip the curved edges to make them lie flat when you turn the mitt right side out. In the web are of the mitt (pictured below), snip in the shape of an upside-down Y as shown by the pink lines. Cut as close to the stitching (shown in black for contrast) as you dare.
  • Turn the mitt right side out.

Here are pictures to show the difference the Y-cut makes. 
The picture on the left has the Y-cut and the one on the right does not.

A close up of the web area of the mitt to show 
with (left) and without (right) the Y-cut.

OK, now that I've harped enough on the Y-cut, 
here is the almost-completed oven mitt:

Step 10
  • Attach the bias tape by sewing on the inside of the mitt as shown. You could also turn the mitt inside out and use the free arm but of course I didn't think of that until after.

A close up to show the bias tape being stitched 1/4" from the edge.

  • Fold the bias tape over the raw edge to the outer fabric side and top-stitch as shown.

  • Tuck in the end of the bias tape and overlap at the join. You should now have one oven mitt with the opening edged with bias tape.

Step 11
  • Having made one mitt, now repeat steps 3-10 to make the other mitt so you get a pair.

Step 12 (optional but useful)
  • Sew closed about 5" of the remaining bias tape to make a strap. 
  • Cut this in two to make two 2.5" straps. 
  • Fold each in half to make a loop and sew the ends onto the inside of each mitt, close to the edge of the bias tape as shown.

The completed oven mitts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Sew An Elasticized Apron (for Kids)

Here is a tutorial on making a kid's apron for pretend play and even 
real baking with mom/dad. With many kids aprons I've seen, I've 
found that if the neck strap is long enough to fit over a child's head, 
the apron ends up hanging a little too low over the chest. Emily is 
still too little to manipulate buckles, so an adjustable sliding strap 
meant she couldn't be fully independent when putting it on and 
taking it off. So I decided to elasticize the neck strap so it stretches 
over her head and is still short enough for the apron 
to hang at the right height.

(Note: for the rest of the tutorial, "the apron" refers not to the 
entire finished garment, but just to the apron-shaped piece of 
fabric i.e. the one with prints in the picture below).

You will need
  • Half a yard of fabric for the apron 
  • A 9"x 6" rectangle of fabric for the pocket
  • 13" of 1/4" or 3/8" elastic (not shown in picture, sorry)
  • 14" of 3/8" bias tape for the pocket and top edge of apron
  • 62" of 1" bias tape for the straps
(I used two different colored bias tapes just for clearer
 pictures for this tutorial. Yours can of course be of the 
same color if you choose.)

First cut out the apron shape. Here's the pattern I used. 
It isn't to scale, since it wouldn't fit on an 8.5" x 11" sheet 
to scan, but if you follow the measurements in the pattern, 
it should turn out right.
Part I
Attaching the pocket and neatening the raw edges of the apron.

Step 1
  • Serge or zig-zag stitch the bottom hem and straight sides of the apron. Although in the picture, the apron does not have serged sides because I was too quick to take the picture. Sorry! (If you roll your eyes now and give up on me, I deserve it).  
  • Serge or zig-zag stitch both short edges and one long edge of the pocket. It is unnecessary to serge the fourth edge because it will have bias tape sewn on.

Step 2
  • Sew the 3/8" bias tape on the top edge of the apron. I find it helpful to sew the first seam on the wrong side of the fabric, then turn the bias tape over to cover the right side of the fabric to top-stitch.

Step 3
  • Sew bias tape on the unserged edge of the pocket like you did with the apron's top edge.
  • Top stitch. In the picture below, I sewed a double row of top-stitching simply because it seemed to give a nicer finish.

Step 4 (optional)
If you want to personalize or embellish the pocket, it needs to be done before Step 5.

Step 5
  • Fold the apron and pocket lengthwise down the middle to get the center lines of both.
  • Place the pocket centrally on the apron using the center lines as a guide and pin in the desired position. I found that a distance of 5.5" between the top of the apron and the top of the pocket is good (see pattern).

Step 6
  • Fold 1/4"  - 3/8" of each serged edge of the pocket under and top-stitch the pocket on these three sides onto the apron. I did a second row of top-stitching again because it gave a nice finish.

Step 7
  • Fold under the two serged sides of the apron and top stitch the hems.

Part II
The Straps 

Step 8 
  • First take the 62" length of 1" bias tape and fold it in half to get the middle (which should be about 31" from either end). 
  • Put a pin or some other marker at the middle spot. 
  • Measure 10" on either side of that middle point.
  • Unfold the bias tape and mark this 10" point on the inside of the bias tape. Make a mark rather than use a pin because you are going to sew on this spot. The picture below shows this 10" mark to the right of the middle point (where the white pin is). 

  • Repeat this step 10" to the left of the middle pin. You will now have two marks 20" apart, with the pin exactly mid-way between them. Still with me?

Step 9
  • Take the 13" length of elastic and sew one end securely on one of the 10" marks, and on the inside of the unfolded bias tape. The best position is not on the middle fold (faint white dotted line in the picture) of the bias tape but on either side of it. This is because you will be folding the bias tape closed again along the natural folds to stitch it up and you want it to lay flat.
  • Repeat this step with the other end of the elastic i.e. sew the other end onto the other 10" mark, being careful not to let the elastic get all twisted.

You will now have a funny-looking thing like in the picture below: 20" of bias tape, with the middle pin still attached, straddling the 13" piece of elastic. This is the neck strap, although it looks nothing like it (yet).
  • Remove the pin.

Step 10
  • Measure 1 " below the 10" marks on each side of the neck strap and mark those points (in red in the picture). These will be the points which attach to the top corners of the apron so that the elastic goes around the wearer's head.
Step 11
  • Position the bias tape on the corner of the apron so that the (red) 1" marks line up with the top edge of the apron (the orange edge in the picture) and sew along the curve of the "armhole" to attach the bias tape on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Repeat with the other 1" mark on the other corner of the apron and sew along the curve of the other armhole.

You will now have
  • 22" of bias tape (with the 13" elastic sewn on at its ends) forming the neck strap
  • 20" (total) of bias tape attached to one side of the apron by the curved armhole and dangling beyond that to form one tie
  • 20" (total) of bias tape attached to the other side of the apron by the other curved armhole and dangling beyond that to form the other tie.

Step 12 - the last step!
  • Fold the bias tape closed all along its 62" length. You will need to fold it over the raw armhole edges and also tuck in the elastic in the neck strap section. It might take some pulling when you get to the neck strap because the elastic is shorter than the bias casing that contains it. Sew slowly and keep readjusting. 
  • Top stitch the open edges closed, tucking in the ends of the ties.

A picture of the neck strap sewn up, with the elastic inside it. 
Note: For this apron, I used 3/4" bias tape instead of 1" because it was 
what I had on hand. The end product is this snug-fitting elastic case. 
1" bias tape would give the gathers more room to lay flat 
which would look better.

The finished apron

which fits a 3 year old (and beyond). 
It is a little long for toddlers like Jenna, but they grow into it so 
quickly that it's not worth making them shorter.