Fleecy Fun!

Hello my lovelies! Yes, two blog entries in one week! Lucky ducks. ūüėõ

Not as many pictures today, mostly because this is in response to a request/affirmation that I should do a blog entry about sewing with fleece! I don’t have any fleece projects going on right now, but I will probably end up doing at least one fleece project in the next year, so if I get my act together maybe I’ll do a more extensive walkthrough later. In the meantime, here is a cute example of a fun fleece project I made last fall,¬†using this¬†free pattern from Stitched by Crystal:

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Ain’t he a cutie? I’m pretty darn proud of him! I also had tentative plans for a skunk and a raccoon, but time wouldn’t allow. Maybe next time!

I realize in most of the Northern Hemisphere it’s not exactly fleece weather! But, even if you think it’s not the greatest time of year to think about fleece crafting, I am of the mindset that there is no wrong time of year to sew, well, anything! When I worked at a big box fabric store for a few years, I¬†learned that tied fleece blankets are always being made – for babies, graduation (so. many. fleece graduation blankets! What a great gift for a grad to make for a friend!), weddings, you name it. Not only are they easy, thoughtful (who doesn’t love cuddling up in a warm fuzzy blanket??), and easily customizable, they can be inexpensive! The massive amounts of fleece I cut at my big box sewing store employer year-round still boggles me, to this day!

Massive amounts of fleece being cut also means Lots Of Remnants! Remnants from your big box sewing store are awesome for doll clothes & accessories, baby and toddler clothes, AND fleece projects. Scarves, hats, mittens, throw pillows, you name it; usually you can get around a yard of fleece (sometimes more!) for a major discount. Which is awesome.

Sewing with fleece can be tricky if you just jump in without researching and getting some tips, so guess what. I’m here to give you tips and tricks on successfully sewing with fleece!

First things first. Fleece is thick, fluffy, and stretchy, even if it doesn’t seem like a knit – it actually is. That’s part of what makes it so fluffy and soft!

There are two kinds of fleece: anti-pill, which just means that the fleece won’t pill very much; and regular fleece (called by different names at different stores), which will pill, but will still be soft and fluffy. Generally they’re interchangeable, except for personal preference.¬†I prefer using anti-pill fleece for stuffed animals, pillows, mittens, and hats – items that get a lot of use and/or are very loved! But, in reality, I basically use these two types of fleece interchangeably!

When you shop for fleece, if you’re looking for anti-pill fleece, check the end of the bolt of fleece you’re looking at – or the label on the remnant. It should say Anti-Pill somewhere, if it doesn’t, it is the other stuff. The big box stores I’ve been to typically have both patterned fleece and solids in both. Some even have micro-fleece, which is AWESOME for garments – like light jackets and leggings – it breathes a bit better, I think. Lined with regular fleece – oh boy, that makes great mittens!!

So, you’ve got your fleece picked out! Next, stop at the needles. If you are a novice sewist, chances are you’ve never sewn with knit fabric. Lemme tell ya – knit fabric is AWESOME… if you have the right tools. One of the tools you need to look for is a needle pack labeled Stretch or Jersey (see below). Typically the Stretch needles are reserved for thinner, drapier, stretchier knits, and the Jersey needles are for thicker, more stable knits. They are both ballpoint needles, which means they won’t puncture your fabric.

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A pack of jersey needles. For lighter-weight knits, use the pack labeled Stretch. You can use stretch needles for thicker knits, but the jersey needles work better. For fleece, you definitely want Jersey needles, not Stretch, for best results.

Wait. “…Why do I care about puncturing?” you ask? “Isn’t that what we’re doing when we sew – poking holes and thread through fabric??” Well, yes – but, if you’ve ever worn pantyhose – you know how you get runs? Well, the same thing happens with knit fabric – the way the fabric is made (knitted), a hole torn in the threads that make UP the fabric can unravel a massive hole if left unchecked. I don’t know about you, but I want my seams to stay together, not disintegrate! ūüôā A sharp, universal needle will poke holes INTO the fabric, a ballpoint needle pushes the thread THROUGH the fabric because it is rounded off. Pretty cool huh? (I’m such a nerd for this stuff.)

In the case of fleece, well, a hole may not be as catastrophic in your fleece blanket or scarf project as say, in a pair of silk jersey pants. But, if you’re doing something like stuffing a pillow or making a garment, you want those seams to be solid, so a jersey needle is the best way to go. If you’ve never changed out a needle for a project before and don’t know how to do it on your machine, you can do a Google search for your machine model and watch a video or find a tutorial – it will also be in your manual.

Once you’ve changed out your needle – just a few more things to note. Use a zigzag stitch – for fleece projects, length and size of the stitch probably isn’t that important – the fleece will fluff up and conceal any flaws, especially for pillows. I would suggest not using a teeny-tiny stitch though. Probably a 3 or 3.5 length would be good.

Go SLOWLY. Fleece is extremely fluffy, so feel free to take your time to make sure everything goes where it needs to. If your machine locks up on you, try lowering your feed dogs if you can, try a different kind of presser foot (again, Google your machine model # or consult your manual), lower the pressure of the feed dogs if you can, or try using a walking foot. Walking feet are AWESOME for thick layers, quilting, and projects that use a fabric that doesn’t like to stay put! They are SO WORTH IT, especially if you do a lot of home decor, quilts, and bag-making. (Plus they make a great gift idea if someone doesn’t know what to get you! :P)

Also, if you can, trim your finished seams down a little bit to cut out bulk. I would leave at least 1/4″ seam allowance, if not a little more; especially if you’re making stuffed toys or pillows.

Important Notes:¬†CLEAN OUT YOUR MACHINE after you’re done (ask me how I know!)! Fleece is fluffy and linty, and you will be shocked at how much lint you clean out of your sewing machine afterwards! Also, throw the needle you used away afterwards – fleece sewing is pretty hard on them! I used to use canned air to clean out my machine, until I took my machine in for a tune-up and the tech was very adamant that canned air is horrible for sewing machines – it forces tiny bits of dust and lint INTO your machine mechanism – all they use at the sewing repair shop is Q-tips! (Seriously!) Also, your machine¬†probably¬†came with a small brush – this works perfectly¬†for cleaning too; and you can buy cleaning brushes at most sewing stores.

Overall, sewing with fleece is a lot of fun! You can get pretty great results for very cheap, which is always my main goal when sewing!

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial!!!

Hello! I am kind of excited about this – my first tutorial, based on a style I’ve wanted to try sewing for A for a while now- the boxy, lace-trimmed t-shirt! Here is my favorite, available at Target:

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Source: Target.com

I know it looks totally 90s with the rolled sleeves and boxy silhouette, but the ones I’ve seen use soft neutral colors like taupe and grey, like this one – which is so refreshing for children’s clothes! With the addition of a soft eyelet lace at the hem to counter the boxiness, I think they are just so sweet and feminine. Classy, yet cozy – my favorite combination!¬†I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with this look, either – one of my Facebook friends who is still starting to sew was admiring¬†the look of this Gap t-shirt.

So, in between moving and Easter sewing, I decided to do a quick little jaunt down tutorial lane in case others have thought to themselves, “That’s such a cute shirt, I¬†want to make one!” ūüôā And HERE is the result!

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So, so cute and sweet!

Cute, right?! (And, ooo, captions! WordPress is my favorite!)

I started with a T-shirt from a popular national retailer. It’s a basic T-shirt, a little longer in length, and shaped – not boxy like the inspiration shirts – but I still thought it would be pretty with some lace along the bottom! Plus, good practice for when I make a boxier, trendier version!¬†The photo doesn’t do the color justice – it’s this lovely soft butter yellow. Perfect for springtime and sunshine! (In fact, none of these photos are very good! Sorry!!)

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Pretty yellow!

So, let’s get started!

You’ll need the following supplies:

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Supplies

1) A T-shirt (sewn or purchased!). Adding lace trim to a hem is completely doable to all types of T-shirts, so even if you decide you want a boxier look than the longer, curved-hem T-shirt I’m using in the tutorial, it will still work, the steps will be the same.¬†Also, for a boxier girl’s shirt, you can cut off a boys’ T-shirt since girls’ shirts are typically fitted, and then compensate for length (if necessary) with the width of your lace.¬†For the tutorial, though, I wanted to use what I had on hand. So, just know that this will work no matter what shape your hem is. And, of course, if you have any questions, make a comment!

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Eyelet Lace with Daisies – so sweet and cute!

2) Lace of your choice. I chose a pre-ruffled eyelet from Jo-Ann, because it was shorter, and I liked the ruffled look for the bottom of the longer shirt. Also, my starter shirt is yellow – so I thought the daisy eyelet pattern would be nice and simple. I bought a full yard because I wanted enough to play with, but if you want to wait until after you’ve measured to save a few pennies, feel free to do so. The inspiration shirts use what looks like a 2-4″ wide lace, but for smaller shirts, 1-2″ is probably fine, it just depends on how long you want the shirt to be.

3) Measuring tape – Never underestimate the power of a good measuring tape. Fiberglass is wonderful, because it doesn’t lose its shape or degrade over time.

4) Pins – The pins I use are the glass-head pins by Dritz – they are smaller, a little more pricey than the pins you would get for quilting or in a starter sewing kit, but so worth it. The smaller diameter of the pin means smaller holes in your fabric, and the glass heads mean you can iron over them without melting them. Score.

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Stretch or Jersey Needles

5) Stretch/Jersey needles – These ballpoint needles won’t punch holes in a T-shirt, and they will work fine on¬†woven fabrics, which is what most lace by-the-yard is made of. To me it’s more important not to cause runs in your T-shirt, especially considering we will be sewing through multiple layers of fabric.

6) Thread that matches, or at least coordinates with, the T-shirt. Or, it could be super fun to use a contrast thread, too, for a bright pop of color. I wouldn’t suggest using white or off-white unless your T-shirt or thread is white or off-white, however – the stitches will show on the right side of the garment.

7) Scissors to cut the lace

8) Seam ripper. Because mistakes happen, and there is no shame in repairing them. ūüôā

Let’s get started!

1. Measure the width of the bottom hem of your T-shirt. To get a good measurement, smooth the hem of the shirt out, and if your hem is curved, follow the curve with your measuring tape as best you can. Add an inch, and write that number down. Another method for measuring a curved hem might be to hang your shirt up with a hanger and measure the hem that way so you can really be accurate.¬†If your hem is straight across, it’s even easier to measure, but you will still want to add an inch to that measurement. The extra inch is¬†used for a half-inch seam allowance.

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Measure the bottom of your tee.

2) Cut your lace to the measurement you got for your hem + the extra inch.

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Cut your lace to match the hem measurement. Another way to do this is to simply pin your lace on the hem and cut off the excess before you sew.

3. Pin the ends of your lace right sides together and sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

4. Turn your t-shirt inside out. Pin the seam of the lace to the side seam of the shirt, then pin the lace along the inside of the hem all the way around.

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Pin the lace to the bottom of the t-shirt

5. If your lace has a finished edge, sew the lace to the inside of the shirt using your preferred stitch – I recommend a zigzag. If your lace does not have a finished edge, allow a minimum of 3/8″ for your seam allowance on the lace edge.

Tip: If the hem of the shirt has two lines of stitching, try to get your zigzag between the lines of stitching for a really finished look!4

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If you look closely, you can see my zigzag stitch tucked neatly between the double lines of stitching at the hem of the shirt.

6. Remove the pins, turn the t-shirt right side out, and press the hem.

7. Voila! Super simple alteration with a lot of impact!

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Ta-Da!

It would be so easy to get the boxy look of the inspiration shirt by using an Oliver + S Bento Tee or Lunch Box Tee pattern – simply eliminate the pockets and add lace along the bottom. That is on my to-do list for sure! A French terry version would be perfect!

Well, that’s all for now. I apologize for the throw-together quality of it – I didn’t want to waste an almost-finished tutorial so I just finished it and didn’t worry about my other idea, for now. I may revisit this later though!

Questions or comments? Please let me know!

Later lovelies!