How to Start Making Baby Clothes Last

As any mother with a young child will tell you, babies grow incredibly quickly. For new mothers, making the most out of baby clothes is of the utmost importance. So what do you do when those onesies just don't quite snap anymore? How do you get an extra month out of those jeans that are a little too short for the winter months? The great thing about onesies is that they're a very workable cotton fabric, and there really isn't any hemming necessary to turn a couple of onesies that fit at five months into a couple of shirts that fit at eight months. Simply cut them off right at the leg holes and gently pull the material around the edges so that it rolls a tiny bit. This way there are no exposed threads for baby to pull at or chew on. The same applies to footie pyjamas. By simply snipping off the feet, you can easily get another month's wear out of the sleepwear.

Adding extra buttons to overalls or snappy shirts makes them naturally grow with your child. Perhaps one of the best investments a new mother can make is a mid-priced sewing machine. This makes alterations and additions a breeze, and provides you with a new hobby.

Things like adding extra material to the bottom of a dress or skirt can be done in just minutes, as can letting out the hem of a pair of jeans or overalls. Buying clothes initially those are mid-priced and made of a cotton material with a lot of elastic and snaps makes transitions much easier.

Shoes are always going to be a problem, but buying a canvas sneaker in the spring can convert into a mule for summer wear, as long as the baby is not walking yet. Think of the ways that you would extend the life of your own clothes. T-shirts that come three to a pack can easily be downgraded to rags or dust cloths. Jeans and pants that have become worn or are too short can be cut and hemmed for summer shorts. Sweaters can become blankies. Things like first outfits and special occasions clothes can be put into a special chest to pass on to your child for when they have children of their own. For the most part, making baby clothes last, laundry runs aside, is about ingenuity and personality. Learn the basics of stitching and hemming and let the creative designer in you shine through!


Is It Worth Sewing My Own Clothes?

Sewing is coming back into vogue. Many people are tired of the cookie-cutter type clothing found in retail stores. They want something unique, and want to show off their creativity.

Sewing was once considered the economical way to dress. In the last few decades, we've seen fabric pulled from all our department stores and other retailers. Many fabric chains have gone out of business. Those left with fabric are either quilt stores, or lean toward calicos and other quilting fabrics.

What happened, and is it still worth sewing my own clothing?

As with so many other items, cheap labour abroad has reduced the price on the clothing found in our retail stores. When clothing goes on sale, you can find high quality garments ready made at very affordable prices. This has made sewing less desirable.

Sewing is work, takes time, and the outcome is not always certain. When you purchase an item in a retail store, you have the luxury of trying it on first, to make sure that the fit is prefect, and that the outfit is flattering on you.

When you sew, you don't have that luxury. You have to know beforehand that the fabric you are buying is going to work for you, and that the pattern you are making has lines that will both fit and flatter your body type.

Added to this is the assumption that you are an accomplished seamstress, and that you will not have any problems with the construction of your garment.

Having said this, there are many reasons people may still want to sew their own clothing.

The price of a basic sewing machine is still very reasonable. You can buy a machine with many "extras", like decorative sewing stitches, and computerized features.

You may want to sew your own clothing if your figure is hard to fit, or if you have trouble finding colours you like.

On the negative side, if you pay full retail price for the notions and fabric you need to sew an outfit, it will be expensive.

Another negative can be sewing space. If you don't have a place to sew, like a dining room table, it will be messy. If you have small children, you are going to have to be very careful, as pins and needles are hard to keep from falling on the floor.

If you do have a dedicated sewing space, however, that place may become your haven, and you will thoroughly enjoy every minute you spend there.

Sewing can become a passion. Buying fabric can become one of life's greatest joys.

So is it frugal to sew your own clothing? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. The real question is "Do you want to do it?"

Sewing is a very versatile skill. Even if you don't want to make your own clothing, you have other options.

Children clothes are great to make. Just learn a few basic pieces, and you can make them in different fabrics and sizes. Most patterns come in several sizes.

Great seamstresses can pull apart adult garments and reuse the fabric for childrens' clothing.

Special Occasion Dresses can be very expensive and hard to find in the store. If you fabric is very expensive, make your outfit in muslin first so that you know it will fit. Then, pull it apart and use the muslin as the pattern for your expensive fabric.

Sewing for your home can result in significant savings and beautiful, unique decor. Drapery panels are easily made with simple straight stitching lines for hems. The only hard part is dealing with so much fabric.

Easier to make are pillow, shams, tablecloths, napkins, table runners and even bedspreads and dust ruffles.

Bottom line- sewing is a great hobby, and can even turn into a home business. If you enjoy it, do it. If you don't, shop the sales and don't feel guilty. Either way, you win.


Sew, What's Your Problem?

There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all that we have to do. The last thing a sewer needs when she sits down at her sewing machine is to have everything go wrong! The needle breaks, thread jams in the bobbin area or keeps skipping stitches or a number of other frustrating problems that keep the project from being completed. These problems happen to the novice sewer as well as the seasoned pro, and while we would like to blame the sewing machine and perhaps "throw it out the window", there are measures that a home sewer can take to correct most problems or even prevent them from happening in the first place.

The sewing machine needle is probably the number one cause of problems for sewers and crafters. This may sound silly, but the first thing to check when having stitching problems is whether the needle is in backwards. Oh, I know you're saying "I've been sewing most of my life and I know how to put the needle in the machine", but in about 25% of the sewing machine repair jobs I go out on, the only problem was that the needle was put in backwards. If your machine will not pick up the bottom thread or skips stitches badly, in most cases it's because your needle is in wrong.

Each sewing machine requires the "flat" side of the needle be put in a specific way facing the front, the back, etc., depending on your particular model. Sewers in a hurry to get a project done may simply insert the needle and not pay attention to the position of the flat side, and immediately begin having problems. If by chance you have a sewing machine that takes a needle that doesn't have a flat side, you'll notice that each needle has a groove in it where the thread lays as it penetrates the fabric. Depending on whether your machine shuttle system faces to the front or to the left, the groove of the needle will also face front or left.

A needle that is dull, bent, or simply the wrong size or type can cause major sewing problems. Just because the needle "looks good" doesn't mean that it is good. A small "snag" on the tip of the needle can cause runs in the fabric, and even a slightly bent needle won't sew properly. A good rule of thumb would be to change the machine needle before each new project, and, because some fabrics and fabric finishes can increase wear on the needle, you may need to change the needle during the project if you notice stitching problems.

Always use the right size needle for the type of fabric you're sewing. I've seen sewers trying to sew denim with a fine lingerie type needle simply "because the needle was in the machine and still a good needle", and others trying to sew fine fabrics with needles that are much too large. A needle too fine for heavy fabric can bend or break when it hits the fabric, while too large needle for the fabric can make puncture holes in the fabric and also cause the thread to pull unevenly while stitching. Do yourself a huge favour and check the machine needle before you begin any new project.

The second thing to check is the thread itself. We have found that "cheap" thread is definitely not a bargain! The fibres of the "bargain" thread splits easily while you're sewing and can cause knotting of the thread, breakage of the thread and can also cause a build-up of lint in the bobbin area and along the thread line from the spool to the needle. If you hold a length of the bargain thread up to a light you can readily see the frayed edges and roughness of the thread. Stick to a good quality thread and you'll minimize the potential problems.

An additional area to check for stitching problems is whether the sewing machine is threaded properly. Each machine has a certain sequence for threading, and it only takes one missed step in the sequence to cause your machine to skip stitches. If you're in doubt, take the top thread completely out and start all over again.

Many times it's the small things that cause much frustration and loss of sewing time. Taking just a few minutes before starting a project to make sure everything is in order can save hours of "down" time, not to mention frayed nerves and the possibility of taking the machine to a repair shop unnecessarily.


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