Tag Archives: clothing

Like a pajama factory

This year the mothers of my grandchildren had a great idea and I ran with it. They suggested grandma-made pajama pants for their children for Christmas, and I was happy to comply.

I collected data on the little ones, who range in size from 18 months to size 12. I found a pattern online for pajama bottoms and managed to draw the size 10 and size 12 based on measurements and lines for size 8. Whew, I felt lucky just finding a multi-sized pattern from infant to size 8! I have 7 grandchildren, and my idea was to make pj pants for each one from a Christmas-patterned flannel, and for 5 of them an additional pair in a pattern each would love. The other 2 were not left out, you’ll see their quick quilts in a future post.

I went to the fabric store armed with measurements. I hadn’t noticed when flannel widths decreased, so I had to also re-figure the length I would need. If it comes in only 42″ widths, I had to figure I would get less once it was prewashed, and that was true – only 38″ in one case! I could not get two large pieces cut for the sizes 10 and 12 from one width of flannel, so I had to match up some of the smallest pieces next to the largest pieces.

I made a couple of errors along the way, but purchased fabric is never wasted, just used for another project. My dining room table became my cutting table for two weekends, and it was an organized chaos for a while. I found that I purchased the exact length I needed for the Christmas pattern pants. Too little fabric would have panicked me! I don’t live near fabric stores, so it would have meant a long drive to purchase more of the same.

Some of the flannel designs were one-way designs, meaning there was a right-side-up direction to the pattern. I had to be sure to cut the waist part of the pattern with the design going up. In at least two instances there was a definite lateral pattern as well. I had to use my knowledge of matching plaids to match the patterns as well.



I lined up the pattern on the fabric so that the two pieces that were cut would be identical from the top to the bottom, and from the side to the side. In the case of the plaid that meant finding a center in the pattern to fold.DSCN0445

(seams showing good matching of fabric pattern)




I pinned small tags to the pieces so that I could see at a glance which pair I was working on. Once I had all the pieces cut out for 12 pairs of pj pants, I started sewing like an assembly line.

DSCN0409I serged all the top edges and leg cuffs. I matched inner leg seams and sewed them. I matched center front and back seams and sewed them. I made a casing for the elastic waist and inserted the elastic, then hemmed the pants according to inseam lengths given by the mothers. Yes, I made it easy on myself at this point and topstitched. I rarely sew blind hems any more. It really is easy to sew loose pants in this style.

We decided to add long-sleeve t-shirts for each.


I was told the pajamas were a hit. In fact, one grandson defended me to a classmate on pajama day at school. The classmate swore there was no way a grandma could make pajamas. Michael said it was hard work, but his grandma did it.


Circle quilt progress

I’m making slow progress.

I’ve worked a bit on the circle quilt. I decided, with a small-throated sewing machine, that I must work from the center outward. The reason it makes a difference is the center 12 blocks have personalized embroidery on plain fabrics, instead of the shirt fabric. To preserve the surprise for the ones who will receive the quilts, I did not photograph the embroidery.

I found that I didn’t actually need to have drawn the square on all 150 circles! Now I figure that out! When I work on the next one, I will draw on only half of the circles. Once two circles are sewn together, the entire outline helps to line up the piece to the next one, and so on, until I have a complete column sewn together.

circle quilt

When I finish sewing the squares with batting to the inner columns, I add one column to each outer edge. Then I press the circle parts down, and I can start placing squares on the columns next to the outside columns. I need the outer edge free for sewing the next columns onto.

If you look at the photo above, you can see the grainlines are all over the place. My bad. I highlighted them in bright green so you can see them too. Yes, the circles tend to stretch when I sew the long line. Next time I know better.

I also love to see the design the stitches make on the back side of the quilt. The stitching looks purple but it’s the same color blue as the fabric. That’s due to lighting, I think.

circle quilt from the back

Something I want to tackle as a future project is to take apart this purse and construct a clone. I love this purse and it’s starting to wear out in places. I don’t think I’ll sew with vinyl, so I’ll be looking for a fabric I think will hold up and look as good.

3 projects going at once

I have several projects going right now, and three that I’m trying to work on through this long weekend.

santa tree skirtFirst, I had copied the pattern pieces for this Christmas tree skirt from a book, Deck the Halls. I currently can’t find the book, so I’m winging it when I have to. The background is blue felt, with Santa’s face curving around the circular edge. The directions say to use small wooden stars, paint them gold, drill a couple of holes and attach them as buttons for the stars in the night sky. I plan to use my home embroidery machine to embroider gold stars in the sky. This is an overdue wedding gift for a nephew who was recently married. I figure the gift isn’t late until Thanksgiving, and I plan to have it completed and sent well before then.

I also have circles. Lots of them.

I had cut these circles about a week ago for my friend’s quilts for her daughters. Instead of using her late husband’s jeans for these, since he didn’t have the numbers that 4 quilts would require, she had bought blue cotton fabric. I need to mark the squares, purchase and cut the batting, and start cutting the shirt fabric squares.

The other project I sewed on today was a doll quilt. I haven’t made one before, but I have the occasion to do so now. My stepson is marrying soon and will acquire a stepdaughter of his own. She’s only 4 and I look forward to meeting her. They are expecting a baby, and because the big sister will likely feel a little left out of things, I planned to make her some doll accessories.

I had bought some “quilter’s grid on point” and I couldn’t wait to use it. The amount I bought was the perfect size to cut into four pieces and each can be used for a doll quilt.

I used pink fabric and some of the floral bedsheet fabric I still have, and made 16-patch blocks. I broke up the blocks with solid blocks from the sheet fabric. I fused the blocks to the grid.

After I took this photo I realized the one-way direction of the white blocks would be going the wrong way. I found that I could peel each off, reposition, and press again. Good to know, I often have to adjust something as I go.

This is the back view of the grid. It is “grid on point” and would be very handy for stitching on a line, but I didn’t use it that way. I folded it between the blocks and sewed each direction. Incredibly fast and easy! I think I may love using this stuff.

I backed the quilt with white flannel, used low-loft batting scraps inside, and bound it with plain pink fabric.  I think Lamb Chop got very comfortable and I think my new step-step-granddaughter will enjoy it as well.

Small Bits

I worked a little bit this weekend on small bits. Sample blocks to see if I want to go further and make a whole quilt.

jigsaw puzzle quilt

I’ve seen this quilt pattern  in photos on the internet. It intrigued me because I love tessellating patterns. I decided to figure out the dimensions and try it out, thinking I wanted to make it for a baby quilt for an expected grandchild.

After doing this much sewing, and the concentration it takes to keep the tiny pieces organized, I decided this little mug rug would be my only use of this pattern. I finally understand the importance of making a test block! Each jigsaw puzzle piece is 3″ by 2″, and the tiny “head” part of each puzzle piece finishes to 1/2″ by 1/2″! Too tiny for me to repeat!

A friend recently lost her husband, and wants a memory quilt made from some of his clothing. I tried describing this method to her, using denim from jeans and scraps from shirts in the centers, and she requested a sample block so she could see what I was talking about. I whipped this up this weekend. Please – don’t ask me how to figure out the size of the square that goes inside the circle. I guessed big, then cut a square of fabric progressively smaller, until I found a size that worked for me. The directions for this quilt can be found here.

Today I’m working on a tessellating star quilt, paper pieced, with only star patterned fabrics. I had started it several years ago and got frustrated with it. I have a half a baby quilt size top done, and I’ll add enough to finish a baby quilt.  No pictures yet, someday when it’s complete.

Three tops and a quilt

No, not quilt tops. Clothing.

First, the quilt. The fireworks quilt is finished and given away.

When I mentioned to my husband that I needed a different fabric for a narrow border, he promptly scrutinized the fireworks fabric and suggested a bright green. I think he was right on with that suggestion, it brings out the brightness in the colors. The mother and father-to-be laughed when they realized I had used fireworks for their July baby.

This top I’m very happy with!

I made it from a thrift store sheet, purchased for $1.25. I have plenty of fabric left over to make something else, like a skirt, or summer pajamas, or incorporate it into baby quilts. I love it when a plan comes together like this!

Two more tops finished, and I’m not as pleased with them, but they will do. The dark floral print below was yardage purchased at a thrift store.

I followed the pattern according to what would be my size, and it ended up far too big to wear. I’ll have to adjust a couple of things.

This plaid fabric was also yardage from a thrift store. The sizing is right, but I think the pattern was a poor choice for me. I may wear it around the house only, or I may grow to love it.

Replace as refashion

I’m feeling more like myself again and had a great thrift store shopping session last Saturday. Among my finds were two tops I could wear to work that were ready to go, no altering needed. Another is too small and there’s nothing I can do about it except get on the exercise bike and lose that weight!

Today’s post is about a repair to one shirt. I fell in love with how simple it was, a v-neck button-down white cotton shirt with lace at the cuffs and hem. When I tried it on to show my husband, he pointed out that some of the lace was coming apart.

Close up of the lace problem

I found a great rose patterned lace in my basket, which was actually a leftover from some curtains I had made about 17 years ago.

I set my serger to do a rolled hem, and I did it successfully, I might add. Sometimes I don’t notice all the steps I need to change on something. I made a rolled hem at the bottom and sides of the lace piece, pinned it right sides together with the shirt without even cutting off the old lace, and simply serged it in place. I let the serger cut off the old.

I stitched over the seam with a narrow zigzag to keep it from flipping and allow it to hang straight. I’m very pleased with the results! I didn’t have enough lace to do the cuffs also, so I just cut off and serged the ends of the sleeves. I’ll figure it out later.

Catching up

Lately I’ve been catching up on my sewing. With the wall quilt completed, I started working on book purses. I’ve thought about sewing a couple of blouses for when school begins again. As a teacher, sometimes I treat myself to new school clothes, too.

Today, however, I knew it would be just too hot in the sewing room so I packed up a machine and a bundle of quilt blocks, and worked on the mystery quilt. I set up a second, temporary sewing room in the dining room, where the air conditioning is working fine. I caught up on 4 pages of directions for the mystery quilt, which is going too slowly for my tastes, and made some progress.

I realized I had made a promise, and I’m going to have to take steps to honor that promise. Our oldest is expecting in about 6 months, and I had promised to make cloth diapers for this baby. I have a pattern but I need to search for the fabrics and notions that I’ll need. Soon I’ll be posting about the diapers and the cute designs that I’ll be making.