Monday, May 22, 2017

Rowdy's Dinosaur Birthday Shirt


Rowdy is a year old.  Actually he is a little over 16 months old at the time of this post, but he is still technically 1 year old.  I'm just super behind with writing up these old projects.  I've really enjoyed having custom birthday shirts for Lucky's three birthdays.  I purchased shirts for his under the sea first birthday and his Halloween second birthday, but I created his Brown Bear third birthday shirt myself.  I even made Keith a birthday shirt this year to practice my applique skills!  I had trouble deciding what to create for Rowdy's first birthday shirt.  I knew I wanted to throw a dinosaur themed birthday party before Rowdy was even born, and I felt a lot of pressure to create the perfect shirt.  So I ended up making two shirts!  


In the end, I was inspired by a picture of Dinosaur embroidery applique I found in Pinterest.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but I thought that I would be able to convert this image into a pattern I could make myself.  I took my applique inspiration and traced over them in paint to make the lines darker.


I knew that I want to make some kind of long neck sauropod for Rowdy's shirt but I gave Lucky a choice of the remaining dinosaurs.  Lucky selected a pteradon profile, one of the hardest to recognize if you aren't a dinosaur fan.  I hoped that I would be able to make it look enough like a dinosaur!


I was very indecisive with this project.  I had a long sleeve onesie that matched Lucky's "3" shirt, but I wanted to make a shirt for Lucky that was on theme AND his own version of awesome versus something paired with Lucky.  I ordered a bunch of fabrics from spoonflower which I LOVE, but they're not quite right for this applique.  This is what I get for wanting to try something more complicated.


I decided to create two different shirts.  A #1 shirt on the green baseball sleeve onesie that I knew I could complete, and then a more complicated, multi-fabric dinosaurs on white onesies.  For both shirts, I added a base to the "1" I printed out above when I traced the numeral onto the Pellon Lite EZ-Steam II lightweight two sided fusible webbing.  I ironed the number onto the shirt and then stitched around the number with a zigzag stitch (Stitch #8, stitch length 2.5, distance 0.3).  I was relieved to have something that Rowdy could wear to his party if I didn't have a chance to finish the more complicated design.  See the end of the post for the finished product.  


I struggled with fabric combinations for the applique dinosaurs.  I needed to have different fabrics for the main body of the dinosaur, the spots or plates, and then fabric for the number one.  Yikes!  I'm not super comfortable with mixing patterns, especially on such a small scale.  So many of the fabrics in my stash are loud and large, and definitely wouldn't work for the small detailed applique I was going to attempt.  Should Lucky's shirt have three dinosaurs or just one?  I was really getting ahead of myself and I decided I shouldn't over complicate things.


I wouldn't know how I liked the dinosaurs until I drew them and cut.  That was the only way to make this work.  I realized that I should just cut, and if I didn't like it I could recut the pieces I needed.  Especially since I could press and stick many times.



Rowdy's shirt went together pretty  cleanly.  First, I ironed on the "1" off center.  Then I added the main body of the Diplodocus.  Finally, I ironed on the three little spots.  My dinosaur is dancing into the one, and you can still tell that the "1" is a one!  Wahoo!


Two different shirts for my one year old, and they both look great.  I really can't decide which is my favorite, but the dinos aren't close to done yet.


I ran into some trouble when I was ironing on Lucky's pteradon.  I Hit the end and my iron spit through my press cloth into Lucky's dinosaur shirt (not pictured). There were a couple of spots on his Olaf shirt but I thought that was a fluke. What on earth is coming out of my iron? It looks like oxyclean is taking out the stain but I didn't want to machine wash the applique until it is stitched down. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!   The applique floated off of the shirt while it was soaking so after I let it dry I was able to iron it onto a new shirt but MAN was I worried there for a while.


Here are the settings I used for all of the machine applique in this project.  I used the zig zag stitch (#8 on my Janome 8077)
  • Green Dinosaur #1: 2.5 stitch length, 0.3 distance
  • Dino outlines: 2.0 stitch length, 0.2 distance
  • Dino spots: 1.0 stitch length, 0.2 distance



Before I started sewing, I used a white fabric pencil to draw where I needed to stitch the limbs outline.  Can you believe that at one point I considered cutting every single segment separately and then ironing them on?  That would have been much more work then we needed!


Choosing the thread for the dinosaur fabric #1 was simple, a medium green made a nice contrast.  It was harder for me to choose thread colors for the two white dinosaur shirts.  I could have gone to the store to buy new threads, but with unlimited options it would be just as hard as it was for me to pick fabrics in the first place.

For Lucky's dinosaur, I started by outlining the wings with a medium blue thread and then finished the body with green.  I thought it was prudent to do the completely enclosed sections first, since it was easier for me to visualize the sewing that way.


In Rowdy's dinosaur, I started with the outlines of the spots.  I considered using a third color of thread for the spots but I didn't want to lose too much of the leaf detail so I thought green would work nicely.  I ended by sewing the outline of the numeral with the same blue I used on Lucky's pteradon.


I (semi) finished two (well three) dinosaur shirts!  Wahoo!


I wasn't sure if the shirts were done.  I could tell that the white shirts had dinosaurs on them, but would anyone else be able to tell that?  I was so close to the project that I couldn't tell if eyes were needed.  I reached out to some Wellesley crafters who recommended that I try to add eyes and mouths to make it more obvious what they were looking at.

I had some bright Eric Carle fabric in my stash, and I tried cutting out different color eyes but none of them worked very well on these faces.


Deep breath time, I decided to try to use thread to make the faces.  First I marked the eyes and mouths with my fabric pencil.  


I practiced first on some scrap fabric, but I used the leaf stitch on my machine to create the eye.  I reduced the distance between stitches as far as I could go to get this oval shape.  Unfortunately, over 4 months later I don't have my notes for these eyes, but I'm confident that I could reproduce it again sometime.  (I think I made the stitch length as long as I could, it is certainly a lot longer than the satin stitch around the border of the dinosaur.)  


All that was left was to finish the second eye and draw some mouths with my machine.  Thankfully doing a zig zag stitch is pretty slow so there was plenty of time to correct where I was going!  


Now the shirts were TRULY completed.  There wasn't space to do three dinosaurs on Lucky's shirt, and besides, I didn't want him to outshine his baby brother!  I could have embellished the backs of the shirts as well, but since it was a January party I knew there was a good chance the boys would end up wearing their homemade dinosaur hoodies.


Well, I did forget one step.  Trying the shirts on the boys and taking some pictures!


I'm not sure Rowdy knew the difference, but Lucky always loves being a "twin" with his brother.  He was super excited about his pteradon shirt.  


The shirts also made me a very happy and proud Mama.  Look at the beauty I created!  (And I don't mean the shirts!)  


A very happy boy is excited for his party!  


Can you believe there are still some more posts for me to write before I share the completion of Rowdy's birthday party?  I LOVE how the background came out.  Indy wasn't invited to the party, but he was excited to hang out in theme as we got set up.


Make sure you check out my first multi-fabric applique project, "How do you make Frozen?" I'm not sure what I'll try to applique next but I have a feeling I'm just getting started making custom shirts for my kids.  




This post contains some Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product recommends were solicited and all opinions and product selections are my own.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

"How do you make... FROZEN?"


The title of this post is due to the Frozen DVD extra "The Making of Frozen" - Lucky (and the rest of us) love this song and will watch it on repeat.  I would still love to see some actual behind the scenes Frozen.  The movie itself is great, too, so if you haven't seen it make sure to check it out!

My neighbor is a super craft mom.  She is super creative when it comes to party invitations and I was THRILLED when she and her soon-to-be 4 year old daughter delivered a snow globe to Lucky to invite him to a Frozen Birthday Party!  As a fellow crafty mom, I really appreciate it when someone goes to the effort to share some handmade love.  I just lamented that my son didn't have any Disney apparel that wasn't Star Wars.  Lucky LOVES frozen so should I make him something to wear to the party?  Yes!

My first idea was to create a more generic snowman (Olaf) shirt by appliqueing three coal buttons to the front of a white T-shirt.  As I was planning Rowdy's birthday party this plan evolved into a complete Olaf character.  I really wanted to try something new, and this would be a great way to practice the complicated, multi-fabric dinosaurs I wanted to make for Rowdy's first birthday party.


I probably could have come up with white and black fabric from my stash, but I needed some things from the fabric store anyway... so why not go pick something out!  When given the choice between sparkly snowflake fabric and non-sparkly fabric Lucky selected the fabric without sparkles (I was shocked!)  I even found some music themed black fabric.  Even though you won't be able to see any complete notes I'll know that the fabric is music themed so I can hear the songs when I look at the shirts.


Why did I buy some Olaf fabric?  I was planning to figure out something for the mouth when I found some licensed Olaf fabric that was on sale.  Why not buy a 1/4 yard?  I realized that there is enough blue space that I would be able to use an Olaf leg to be a tooth on the shirts!  If I cut the fabric JUST right it would work perfectly.  


I found an image of Olaf and traced it with black in Photoshop.  I printed out the outline in a few sizes and picked the one that I wanted.  Using a window, I traced the outline onto two sided fusible adhesive, Pellon Lite EZ-Steam II, and then cut the shapes out of the relevant fabric.


As soon as I cut out Olaf I was in love.  I wasn't sure how the appliqueing would go, but I knew that I wanted to create a little Sneeze Snowman for Rowdy.  Some of the little guys have a tooth, too, so this could be an adorable little mimic.  Olaf calls the little snowmen (aka snowgies) "Little Brothers!" so this would be perfect for Rowdy.


"Mommy, you wear the Olaf shirt, and you can make me a Sven one." - Lucky on the way home from the fabric store.  Sorry kid, you're getting an Olaf shirt.


I ironed the "snow" part of Olaf's body first.  I have some scrap quilting cotton that I use as a press cloth.  When I'm securing this fusible webbing, I soak my press cloth and use the wet cloth to iron on the shapes.  


Next, I ironed on the rest of the decorative shapes.  Look how cute Olaf's little tooth came out!


Before starting any satin stitch, I drew on the approximate boundaries of the snowballs and eyebrows.  I used a straight stitch to mark these lines little better since my air soluble fabric markers can rub off pretty easily as I'm sewing.  


Olaf's arms were so thin that I didn't think a satin stitch would work well.  I decided to use a running stitch to secure these to the shirt and to leave the edges raw.  I reduced the running stitch (#1 on my machine) length to 1.0 and stitched the outlines of the arms and hair. The arms were hard. I really could have used some stabilizer behind the knit fabric because they just didn't want to stay stuck. Maybe a loose zigzag would have been easier.


I used black thread to really highlight Olaf's cartoon nature.  I used a zig zag stitch (#8) with a length of 2.0 and a distance of 0.2.  The needle got stuck a few times (I'm not really sure what is going on but a bunch of thread builds up on the wrong side and I can't move the fabic) but it was much easier than the arms to complete.



I wasn't sure how to feel at this stage of the project.  Olaf looked so clean without the stitching. He is much less clean now. I am glad I am doing this practice before doing Rowdy's birthday shirt.  (Note from future Rebecca:  Ironing out the applique after I was done sewing made it look MUCH cleaner.)


The irises on my Olaf are tiny.  Super tiny!  I used a star stitch (#30) size 5.0 to secure these to the fabric.  I had to practice this stitch on scrap fabric so I could get the pattern down and know where in the sequence I needed to put the needle into my fabric.

For the rest of the face, I used the zig zag stitch (#8) with the following settings (the first number is the stitch length and the second number is how close the stitches are to each other):

  • Nose & Eyes: 1.0, 0.3
  • Eyebrows: 2.5, 0.3
  • Mouth: 2.0, 0.2



I couldn't find what I did for Olaf's coal buttons in my notes, but looking at the pictures of the wrong side of the applique helped me figure it out.  I used the same treatment on Olaf's buttons as I did on his arms and hair.  


I love love LOVE dressing my boys in matching outfits.  I plan to do this as long as they will let me.  I printed out a few different Snowgie (Sneezes) versions so I could get one that would be the right scale for Rowdy's onesie, even if it wouldn't be scale with the applique Olaf.


I constructed this applique following the methods I used for Olaf.  I ironed on the shapes and then with an air soluble marker drew the lines where I needed to stitch.


The eyes are a little bigger than Olaf's irises so I was able to do a zig zag stitch around them.  Here are the zig zag stitch settings I used for the Snowgie:

  • Body: 2.0, 0.2
  • Eyes: 1.0, 0.3
  • Mouth: 1.5, 0.2



I've found that wider zig zag stitches are much easier to work with when I am on the edge between the quilting cotton and a knit shirt.  I really should look into stabilizers and how and why they are used when you are doing applique.


Look at my little frozen buddies!   I can't believe how well these came out.  It is really hard to see the snowflakes on the white fabric, but I don't even care!  These are adorable! I know I am tooting my own horn here, but I am so unbelievably proud of these shirts.  


I think I selected good characters to make shirts with.  Snowmen are much easier to create in a flat drawing than a human based character.  


The boys LOVED their shirts. 

These were some of the last pictures that I took on my trusty Canon SD 70D before the shutter wore out completely.  This happened the week of Ryder's first birthday, so we rushed to get a new camera in time.  Phew!
I have so many great pictures of Rowdy in his shirt, but you can't see the snowgie!  

We all had a blast at the Frozen themed party.  The "real" Elsa was fantastic, although Lucky was terrified and didn't get off my lap for any of the activities.  At the end of the party he started showing Elsa the animals he was playing with and even gave her a hug as he was leaving.  He was sad Anna wasn't there, but she was off "baking a birthday cake for Sven." Carrot cake, of course.


The party favors were awesome!  We got to take home an Elsa cape and some Sven ears.  These are super welcome additions to our dress up box!


These outfits have now been worn multiple times and hold up really well in the wash.  Unfortunately they do require a quick press after washing to straighten the shapes back out.  I'm not sure if a stabilizer would help this or not, but I'm super super in love with how these shirts came out.  

In my next post, I'll share the applique shirts I created for Rowdy's first birthday party.  Here is a little sneak peek at my week of applique:


Sometimes it takes me a long time to post projects here on ChemKnits. I need to edit the images (crop, adjust levels, reduce size) and turn my notes into real words someone can read. If you want to get faster sneak peeks into my work, make sure you follow me on Instagram!



This post contains some Amazon Affiliate links.  All of the product selections and opinions are my own, none were solicited.