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.  

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