Monday, March 30, 2015

How I sew up a Katrina's Soaker

 I have seen many methods for assembling Katrina's soaker covers.
These are my favorite ways to do them.

Cut out your polyester fleece or your wool to the pattern templates.
**You can keep the waist band in one long piece, or you can cut the waist band in half length-wise and sew in to the front and back separately.

For very thin wool, I do 2 full body layers rather than the wetzone contour.

 Pin your wet-zone layer onto your body layer.
 Zig-zag stitch around the edge of the wet-zone layer fabric.

 Now, with the outside up, place your folded leg fabric folded (where the leg holes will be.)
 You can now either serge or zig-zag stitch it to the body.  Pull only the leg cuff piece as you sew.
 Repeat on the other side.
 Fold the front up to the back.  Inside facing outward. Pin or clip the sides.
 Serge or zig-zag the sides together.

 Now fold and sew or serge your waistband.
 Fold down so the seams are hidden inside.
 I like to roughly align my seam with the middle of the back.

 Serge or zig-zag the waistband to the body.
OR, do the waist band in two segments:

 Now just serge or zig-zag it all the way up the sides.
 A yarn needle is your friend for dealing with serger tails!

 Tails trimmed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Figuring out elastic tightness/tensions

I got an email today that was sent as an MMS and wouldn't allow me to respond via email, SO...

This post is for Caroline!

Her question:
Hello! First, I must say I absolutely love your patterns and tutorials. Thank You for posting them! I just am wondering about the elastics - How do I know how tight I should make them? The pattern itself does not say and I cannot find a post about it.

My answer:
Since every brand is so different, I do it by feel.  When I teach lessons, I can always show people…  but it is hard to explain it on my blog.

I use 3/8” polyester braided elastic.  My favorite brand is Stretchrite personally.

Basically, you run it through and sew down the far end (like I show in my cased elastics tutorial).  Then, for through the legs, you pull it as tight as you can to where the fabric can still stretch all the way flat, but the elastic has no extra stretch.  Then you just release it a TINY bit and sew down on the other end of the casing and then cut the elastic about 1/2” after your sewing line.  Then repeat on the other side.  With practice, it becomes very easy to keep them even *by-feel* like this.  If you pull it too tight, the fabric won’t be able to fully stretch out.  Then you know it is too tight and to let out a little slack.  For the back elastics, I only pull about half that tight.  To where it EASILY stretches out with no resistance but still gathers when released.

It can help to sew some practice casings in scrap fabric and just play around with the feel of different elastic tensions.

Happy sewing!
- Arfy

I know this sounds a little wishy-washy, but I just don't know another way to describe what I do.  Measuring just doesn't work well because for some elastic, they'll end up too tight or too slack because every elastic just has a different amount of *give.*

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wool or Fleece Longies, Shorties, and Soaker covers.

This is basically a tribute post to Katrina.  When I make her patterns, I dip the front a little extra, and I add a bit more in the back.  I also make thicker waistbands and leg cuffs.  I sometimes use sweater arms and just cut the tops of them to her pattern so they sew together nicely, and/or use the sweater sleeve ends for soaker cuffs, and the stretchy waist portion for the waistband of soakers or longies.

If I am using very thin wool, I do a full second body piece rather than just the wetzone piece.

There are so many ways to sew up her patterns.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Keychain Diaper and Turned Doll Diaper

These two templates have been up on my blog for a long time, but I've never spent the effort to produce a sewing tutorial for them.  I made this a combined tutorial because these two patterns are sewn up the exact same way.

 Cut out your inner and outer fabrics.
I leave a little more extra in the middle of the front to make closing the turning hole easier.
Clip or pin your fabrics together with faces inward.
 Sew around the outsides leaving the turning holes in the front.
Trim off the excess around the sharper curves only.
 Get ready to zig-zag on your elastics!
 Zig-Zag stitch your elastic into the seam allowance while stretching tightly.
 What they should all look like when sewn in.
 Elastic through the legs and across the back.
The same for the doll diaper.
 Invert through the turning hole and get ready to close up the front.

 Now back to the straight stitch to close up and do all your top-stitching.
Make sure you sew far enough in when going around the elastic areas.
You don't want to catch your elastic anywhere but on the very end of them.
 All closed up and ready to add snaps or velcro.
 I used black thread so you could see my sewing, but using matching thread colors will make for a much nicer and more-finished looking product.
 Then just sew a little loop of ribbon to the inside of the keychain diaper to attach your keychain ring to. I don't have one on-hand to show right now.  :)

Hey look!  My daughter discovered that the keychain diaper fits her Barbie dolls!

All my free sewing templates are available for download here:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sewing a Basic Diaper - Start to Finish

This is a great way to practice your diaper-sewing skills before venturing into more expensive fabrics or even buying the more specific diaper-sewing supplies.

For this you can use new or recycled flannel, a flour sack towel, or really any absorbent woven fabric or fleece (poly or natural fibers). Starting with more stretchy fabric is harder unless you have a walking foot or are very practiced already with sewing stretchy fabrics.  You can also use any sewing machine needle for something like this.

Choose the pattern you want to use and cut an inner and outer fabric piece.  

* If you were going to apply snaps or velcro to the front of the outer, you would cut a piece of fabric for reinforcement and apply them now.
 Lay the pieces with their faces inward towards each other.
 Clip or pin them together, faces in.
 I use a fairly wide stitch for the initial sewing.
 Lower your needle into the front edge about 2/3 across the body.
 Sew forward a few stitches and then reverses your direction for a few stitches.
 Continue sewing forwards again and proceed to sew around the outer edge of the body.
 I use the edge of my sewing foot to keep my distance from the fabric edge consistent.
 When you get to the opposite side of the front again, sew back and forth for a few stitches again.
 Sewn around the outer edges:
 This will be your turning hole.
** For many types of pocket diapers, you would sew all the way around and turn through your pocket opening.
 Reach your hand inside and pull the wings through.
Continue turning. 
 I reach my hand back inside to push all my edges out evenly.
 Turned diaper:
 Now to sew your elastic casings. I use a little bit shorter of a stitch length.
 Make sure the edges are pressed cleanly, and lower your needle to the correct width for your elastic casings.
 Begin sewing back and forth a few stitches and then the length of your casing channel.
 Finish it off the same way.
 Repeat for your other elastic casing channels.
 Now select your elastic.  I used 3/8" polyester braided with a bodkin.  You can use any elastic for your practice diapers though, and a safety pin works great as well!
 Feed your elastic into your casing channel.
 I feed with the outer fabric up so I can guide the elastic OVER the inside turned fabric edge and against the outer edge.  This proves helpful when sewing PUL diapers later on and to stop little things like twisted elastics and unevenly puckered edges.
  Feed the elastic all the way to just past the end of the casing channel.
 Shorten the stitch length a bit more.
 Sew back and forth a couple times to secure the end of your elastic.
Remove your bodkin or safety pin.
Stretch your elastic so that you can still pull the fabric all the way straight but with good tension.  I pinned it here to show, but once you are practiced, you won't need to pin through your materials. 
 Sew back and forth to secure, and then trim your elastic to about 1/2" from the end of the casing.
 Repeat on the other side and fold over to measure against the first side before securing to get even leg openings.  Then sew in the back elastic. I don't tighten the back elastic as much as the legs.
 Once the elastics are installed and the bodkin or safety pin is removed, we are ready to close up our turning hole.  Fold the fabric edges evenly inward.
 Clip or pin closed.
 Close your hole while top-stitching.
 Finish top-stitching around the front and the wings.
 Your basic practice fitted diaper is complete.
 Very useful with added absorbency like a trifolded prefold.
You can even sew in or snap-in a soaker after-the-fact.
 Most flannel is not snappiable, but you can use pins or even sew on hook and loop (like velcro.)  However, a flour sack towel or fleece usually IS snappiable.
 Adjust the size/rise by just folding over the front.

My free pattern templates can be downloaded for print here: