Friday, May 25, 2012

DIY Toddler Pajama Pants Pattern

As warmer weather began to approach and we headed further and further into spring, I, like most moms, began to think about summer clothes for my kids  and in particular warm weather PJs.  Both my boys have been happily sleeping in fleece footie pajamas for the past 5 or 6 months but they'll be too warm during the summer months.  I wanted a light weight pajama that will keep the boys warm (they're both big time covers-kicker-offers) but not too warm.  

I went shopping - like any girl would who's hubby has declared he'll watch the kids while she takes some time for herself.  Is it terrible that I chose to spend this time in a children's clothing outlet?  Probably.  But I ended up not buying anything anyway because even at on sale outlet store prices, just buying two sets of pjs for my two guys (four total) was going to put me back somewhere in the ball park of $40.  

I scowled at the super cute over priced pjs and declared - possibly out loud - that I could make them for much less money.  And I left that store and headed right over to the fabric store.  I bought two yards of flannel in two prints (so four yard all together), a package of elastic, and a five pack bag of undershirts (these I actually bought at Target).  With the flannel on sale that week, I ended up spending about $26 on everything.  That's close to half the price of the on sale outlet store price - AND I was able to make four pairs of pants and two pairs of shorts!  If only undershirts came in a 6 pack....    

Now in general, it isn't always cost effective to make your own clothes. Particularly adult clothes.  But kid clothes are small, they're usually made with less expensive materials and when you make your own pattern you can save about $10 (or more) just on that.  So every now and again I make clothes for my kids.  For me, it's not just the money saved, I also enjoy sewing and I like making things for my boys to have.  So if you are like me, keep reading.  If you aren't like me and can't imagine why I'd waste my time when I could have gone to a thrift store or pinned tea towels on them instead, then you can also keep reading if only to scoff at my folly. ;)

So, on to the pattern!  I had my first pants making experience making longies for my boys as babies (using this very cool pattern and blog Katrina's Sew Quick Soaker Pattern).  If you are unaware, longies (or shorties) are fleece or wool pants that go over cloth diapers, instead of plastic pants or a PUL cover.  I found out then that pants are super easy to make with just one pattern piece, and I've been sewing them up ever since.  

And now you can make them too using a pair of your child's well fitting pants as a guide in only 3 steps*.  Because it doesn't have side seams, this style is particularly suited to pajama bottoms as less seams means greater comfort.

*making the pattern, sewing the pants, adding the elastic.  I didn't say short steps. Though the actual sewing should only take you 20 minutes or so.

What you will need:

  • a yard of comfy fabric (I used flannel) - you may have enough left over for a pair of shorts as well
  • underwear elastic or any wide and soft elastic.  Make sure it feels comfortable against your skin as it won't be incased.
  • paper to make the pattern on (I used a roll of craft paper I bought for the boys, other ideas are butcher paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, computer paper taped together... you get it)
  • sewing machine and thread
  • optional: a very inexpensive yard of fabric (i.e. muslin) or extra fabric you have from a previous project to practice on - so you don't ruin your cute comfy fabric in case you got a measurement wrong. 

Step One: Making the Pattern

Now, you may be thinking, "Making a pattern?  I can barely sew two scraps together, what am I going to be in for?"  Don't worry about it.  This isn't hard, it's just a matter of tracing!

Revised November 2012 

a) First lay out your paper on your work space.  I did it right on the floor, cause I'm super fancy like that.  Then lay out your kid's pants flat on the paper.

b) Pull the waist band taut and mark that distance on the paper.  Make the left side of the band an inch higher than the right side and then draw a line connecting the two sides (which will be the front and back) of the pants.

c) Now fold the pants in half lengthwise with the front seam (wear the zipper would be on a pair of jeans) facing out.  Line up the front seam with the right side of your waist band mark and trace the curve of than seam from the band to the crotch.  Then continue tracing down the length of the leg to the cuff.

d) Refold the pants with the butt seam facing out and trace the curve from the left side of the waist band down.  Do you see how the back of the pants have a longer seam than the front?  That is why I had you made the left side of the waist band higher.  Trace down the length of the leg to the cuff on this side as well. 

e) measure the leg lines (crotch to cuff) and make sure they are the same length so they will match up when you sew them.  When all is even draw the line that connects the front and back of the leg.

f) Now it's time for the seam allowances and hems.  Add about 1 1/4 inches to the bottom (do not continue to taper), 1/4 inch to the sides, and a 1/2 inch to the top.  This new silhouette is the one you will cut out.  Now would also be a good time to double check your measurements and make sure you have followed the directions just right.

i) You have a completed pattern.  Congratulations!  Go ahead and cut it out.

Step Two: Making the Pants Body

What?!  This is only step two?  Sorry.  Feel free to take a break.  I did.  If you did this while your kids were awake I commend you.  They were probably crawling on your back making your lines all wonky.  I feel your pain.  

a) Wash and dry your fabric.  This will shrink it which is important considering if you don't pre-shrink, all your hard work will turn into oddly wide baby pants after the first wash.  Your toddler doesn't want to wear oddly wide baby pants.  Just throwing it out there.

b) If you need to, iron the fabric.  Fold it in half length-wise (like it was on the bolt in the store), and pin your pattern to the fabric.  I just cut around the pattern at this point but other people like to trace it with a pin, remove the pattern, and then cut it out.  Whatever works for you.

c) We'll start sewing at the bottom with the cuffs.  Fold the bottom of each leg 1/4 inch down and iron.  Fold another 1 inch down on each leg and iron again.  Pin the cuff in place.  Stitch across the cuff as close to the top edge as you can (or about 1/8th of an inch from the top edge).  If you measured correctly your two pant legs will still be the same length.  If not, they're probably close enough.  I mean, they're pajama bottoms.  Your kid's not going to school in them.  Maybe.  I'm not judging.

d) With right sides together (that is, inside out), pin along the sides from the waist to the crotch in both the front and the back.  

e) Sew from the waist to the crotch on both sides leaving a 1/4 in. seam allowance.  If your fabric is a woven fabric like mine, finish the edges so they don't fray.  I used a zig-zag stitch as I didn't feel like getting my serger out.  If your fabric is knit like a jersey or a fleece, don't worry about finishing the edges, they won't fray.  

f) Now comes the cool part where you turn what looks like a super oversized flannel holster into what very much resembles a pair of pants!  Turn the pants so that the front and back seams are laying against each other and each pant leg is folded in half length-wise.  See?  I told you it was cool!  I know you are tempted to turn it right side out and envision how it will look when you are done.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.  You're back?  Good.  Now turn it wrong side out again and pin the legs starting at the crotch and moving out to the cuffs.  If you have done all your measuring and cutting right, then the two sides will meet up perfectly.  If they don't and you don't think you can "make it work" then take out the cuff with a seam ripper and adjust the length of the longer side.  Note all your changes on your paper pattern so you don't repeat your mistakes in the future.  Re-sew the cuff, and re-pin the leg.

g) Starting at the bottom of one leg sew one long straight stitch through the crotch and down the other leg.  Yay! I'm pretty sure that's the last time I have to say crotch.  How about one last time for good measure?  Crotch.  Ok. I'm done.  Now finish the edge of this seam.

Step Three: Sew on the Elastic

Dang, girl, these are some long steps.  Yeah.  But it makes sense to me to break it down this way.  I figure anytime I'd likely see if my house has been ruined by my monkeys take a break, is a good time add a step.  Plus if I said, "In only 21 steps!" Would you have gotten this far?  Honestly?

a) With pants still inside out (yeah, I know you turned them again) fold under a 1/2 inch all around the top and iron it down.

b) Return to your child's pants - the ones you used to make the pattern.  Lay them flat and measure the waist band.  Don't stretch them this time, just lay them flat.  Double that measurement and use it to measure your elastic.  Add a half inch for seam allowance.  

c) Sew the ends of the elastic together with 1/4 inch seam allowance

d) Pin the seam of the band to the back seam of the pants with the seams together.  Remember, you know it's the back because the rise is about an inch higher in the back.  The top of the elastic should be covering the folded over fabric to about 1/8th of an inch from the top.  Fold the band in half with the pinned seam on one end.  Make a crease on the other end with your fingers and pin the creased mark to the front seam.  Find the halfway marks between the front and back seams of the pants by locating the natural fold at the side when the front and back seams are lined up.  Find the halfway marks of the band the same way, crease them so you can see them and pin them to the half way points on the pants.  The picture should help give you a clue as to what I mean by that.  You may choose to add more pins, but I found it easiest to pin in just these four spots.

e) Begin sewing the band to the pants on the back seam at the top of the band as close to the edge as you can.  After you secure your stitch with a few back stitches, pull out the first pin if you haven't already.  Find the next pin and pull the fabric and band at that pin so the elastic is taut, and sew along the top edge of the band to the pin.  Pull the pin out, find the next one and continue on the same way until you have gone around the waist.  You may have to adjust the tension of your thread to keep it from puckering as the elastic is relaxed, so keep an eye on that as well.  You are so close to being done!  Now, do exactly what you did at the top of the elastic at the bottom also starting in the back.  If your elastic band is particularly wide, you may want to add another row (or two) of stitches in the middle.  I chose a slightly narrow elastic (3/4 inch) so two rows was fine for me.

Hey, you did it!  Pull your tot down from the chandelier and pop these suckers on them!

Here are a few blurry action shots of my boys in their new PJs.  I embellished the plain undershirts I bought to match their pajama bottoms.  Now they are ready for summer sleeping - if I could just get them to sleep when the sun is still up.  That's another blog.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Paint Colors

With the obtrusive light fixture in the living room finally removed I'm getting excited about painting in the near future.  After the paint is up, the carpets are going away, and then the decorating begins!  I've been waiting to start in on this room since the day we bought the house.  It will be so nice to finally start!

Here are the paint colors I've picked out 

Sherwin-Williams Useful Gray (SW7050)
The above will be on all the walls in the living room.

Sherwin-Williams Analytical Gray and Nuance 
These two colors are the same colors I used in the dining room, and I've also used them as an accent wall of sorts in the living room in the stairwell going on up into the upstairs hall.  You might remember my inspiration room from my last post.  Instead of going with blue, I chose gray because I'm totally in love with it right now.  I think it plays nicely with the bright blues and greens I will add to the living room, and it already looks great with the yellows in the dining room... but more on that another day. ;)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Updates and More Updates

As I noted in my last post, the last couple of weeks have had our little house turned upside down.  We added a few changes to the house that should make a big difference in the Little Stone Cape. 

Prerequisite Electric Work

First we had our electric updated to a 200 amp service.  Over the course of a few days we got a new electric panel, a new meter outside, we added a new outlet outside our front door, we took out very old wiring to a built-in light fixture panel that ran across the top of two walls in the living room, and changed out two outlets in the basement to GFI outlets.  

Hello, AC

Most of the electric work took place two weeks ago.  We needed to get that out of the way to make way for our next big project on our long list: getting central air!  So last week we had a crew in here doing just that.  The house was in total upheaval during that time and for three days the boys and I hung out at my mother-in-law's house (whether she was there or not).  We opted to have the house retrofitted with flexible tube ducts that slipped through our ceilings, walls, and closets.  The air handler was put in the attic and these flexible tubes were piped all across the attic floor going into the ceilings of the second floor rooms.  Then more tubes went into several closets hidden away from sight (later we will dry wall them in so they will be completely enclosed) and those were threaded into the ceilings of first floor.  Most of the rooms have two vents, a couple have three, and the bathroom and kitchen (our smallest rooms), both have one.

We haven't had need to use it yet (the weather has been perfect around here with temperatures hovering in the upper 60s and low 70s) but we did try it out to see how to work our new thermostat, and to see what the airflow was like.  It's very quite and blows nicely. We know it will be well worth it when the summer weather hits.  It gets very hot and humid around here in the summer.

See Ya, Giant Light Fixture!

As for that crazy light fixture in the living room, my husband took care of that last night.  It was a very old fixture that at one time housed a series of florescent lights which I assume illuminated the ceiling and lit the room with a radiant glow.  It appeared that it had been years and years since it had worked, but the previous owners hadn't ever bothered to take the fixture down.  It wasn't doing anything for the room (obviously) so my husband took it down.  Here is what it looked like when we first moved in.  

My husband borrowed his brother's saws-all when he couldn't unscrew it from the walls because the screws were painted over and/or stripped.  He thought he'd have to cut the metal brackets from the wall, but after cutting the length of the board into sections he pulled the brackets (at least the ones on the front wall) from the plaster with such ease he declared that it was held up by magic.  (Yes, we often use Harry Potter allusions in our everyday speech. We're just cool like that)  So we were happy that in the three months we've lived here we didn't have it fall on our heads and electrocute us.  

Here is what it looks like now.  

With the rewiring out of the way and the fixture down, we can finally focus our attention on decorating the living room!  Here is my inspiration room.  I found it on Pintrest and had to track down the original poster so I could see the rest of the room.  Turns out it was designed by CWB Architects in Brooklyn, New York.  My room isn't this big (about half the size), and we don't have a fire place (yet, fingers crossed for a someday project), but hopefully you get the idea.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Making a Dry Erase Calendar With Contact Paper

A few days ago I finished a fast and cheap project for my boys.  My kids are not in school yet, but I feel that is no reason they can't start learning now.

Here is a space that I carved out for a "bulletin board" of sorts.  It's the door to the basement in my kitchen.  Since it's a space we pass by maybe a hundred times a day I thought it was perfect.  It sits just inside the kitchen just feet from the family room where we spend the bulk of our inside time.

I purchased the weather signs at Target.  I covered them in contact paper since I don't have access to a laminator.  Then I added Velcro to the back of the signs so I could change the forecast every day.  It's been fun to look outside with the boys in the morning and decide what the weather is like that day.  

Then I look up the next day's forecast on my phone and we put up our signs.  Sometimes the weather changes midday.  If we notice it we change our sign then too.

This was in the play room of our old house, and when I put it up here I immediately thought what was missing was a calendar so we can talk about the days of the week and the months of the year.  Then I got the idea for a dry erase calendar made with the contact paper I already had on hand.

Me: "Do you know what today is?  It's Sunday!"
My 3 year old: "No, it's cloudy."
I stand corrected.

Here is what you'll need to make your own dry erase calendar:
  • Plan paper in a light color marked to make a grid seven spaces across and five spaces down (I used white construction paper)
  • A roughly 2 x 6 in.  piece of paper in another color for the month
  • Seven small pieces of paper for the days of the week (you could also make a single strip the length of the calendar if your days of the week will fit written out)
  • Contact paper
  • a pen
  • scissors

Make a grid on your paper seven equal spaces across and five down.  Cut off the long edges if you are bad at math, like me, and couldn't manage to measure out proper proportions to fill the paper you have.  Make the lines with a dark marker.  Write the days of the week on the seven small pieces of paper. Mine measure about 1.5 in x.5 in.

Measure out the amount of contact paper you will need by rolling it out and laying all your pieces in the position they will be in when it is finished.  Mine is about a foot and a half in length and the entire width of the contact paper.  I wanted a nice sized "frame" of contact paper around the calendar to stick the whole thing solidly to the wall.

Cut the contact paper to the length you measured.

Take the backing off the contact paper.  Don't worry if it sticks to itself.  It comes apart fairly easily.

Making sure everything is straight and evenly spaced (a ruler would be nice for this if you want to be exact - I just eyeballed it), place your papers down one at a time on the contact paper.  Do it slowly, smoothing from one side to the other to insure that there are no air bubbles.

Check your work to make sure it all looks right and the words are facing the right way.  Obviously I was confused and two of my days got turned upside down.  Hmm, sounds like my real week! Ha! If this happens it should be fine.  My paper came right off the contact paper no problem and I flipped and re-adhered it.

Now comes the tricky part, putting it on the wall (or door, in my case).  This bit was even trickier for me who was trying to take pictures while smoothing the contact paper.  I always have to make things difficult! 
Starting at the top corner, adhere it to the wall, smoothing it down to push out air bubbles, moving from one side to the other until the top is attached to the wall.  Now make sure it is straight, if not, pull it off and start again.  If it is straight, continue to smooth it down little by little from one side to the other and down.  If you get an air bubble, pull it back just past the bubble and continue on.  If you've never done something like this, it might take you a few tries to get your technique just right.

But then you're done!

Finish it up by writing in the month, year, and dates.  Now when we stop by this space to talk about the weather we can read the calendar too!  Today is Monday, May 7th, 2012.  Yesterday was Sunday, tomorrow is Tuesday... you get the picture.  Have a good week!
(Yes, the calendar in the picture says April, it was still April when I took the picture. That's just shows how crazy things have been at my house lately!)