Friday, June 8, 2012

Sewing Cloth Training Pants-- A Pattern Review (Of Sorts)

I knew as soon as I started sewing cloth diapers that I would be just as excited to sew cloth trainers when the time came--always something new! Normally our boys don't even look at the potty until three, but Little Guy is completely aware of his pee-pee and will tell me immediately afterwards. He tinkles ALOT, so lately I'm changing diapers ALOT! I thought to myself this week, "Why waste a big fat diaper on one wetting?" Aha--He needs trainers!

I did a little research on patterns for cloth trainers. There isn't a whole lot to choose from. I piddled around with a few freebies I found, and then decided I just wanted to buy a pattern. After looking them over, I decided I wanted the style that has a separate center panel like boys undies because I would be more likely to use PUL scraps than if the PUL covered the whole outer. I briefly had my heart set on the Tinkle Time Trainer Pattern , but I kept looking for a few days. I came across the Bella Bum Big Boy Trainers Pattern on Etsy and decided to go for that one. I liked how many options there are for the stages of potty training. They also have a girls' version. You never know until you actually look at and use the pattern how much you'll like it, so I held my breathe while I was waiting for the email with the download (which was only a couple hours). Verdict: I like it. The pattern is nicely organized and nothing is left unexplained (that I noticed). The pattern even explains how to measure for and choose the correct size, which is always helpful.

Let me say this, I would save myself a lot of "OOPS" if I would just read and follow instructions. But I have issues with this! After you've sewn a hundred different diaper patterns you tend to think, "I've got it down." Trouble is, not all patterns work the same, or why would there be different patterns! I made a couple of boo-boos but was able to make it come together nicely in the end. My biggest mistake was not clearly paying attention to the instructions on measuring the Fold-over Elastic. I ended up piecing my elastic after some misinformed cuts, and I never waste FOE! Oh, and I also forgot to prewash the FOE, which I might have ignored anyway because I was so eager to try the pattern. In the end, the back side pieces came out a little wider than the front side pieces and the snapping ends didn't line up exactly. I was later able to determine that this was my error in cutting out the pattern. I had chosen the Stage 1 style but cut out the stage 3 pattern (which basically just includes seam allowances because you don't use snaps on those edges), and this made the widths not line up correctly. When I was trying to figure it out I emailed the pattern maker and got a quick response from them, although I ended up figuring out my mistake as I was getting ready to take photos to send them for analysis. An "AHA" moment.

The assembly is pretty basic. You start with your soaker pad. I didn't make mine exactly like theirs with soaker layers and a booster layer because I was using two edge pieces of a prefold diaper sandwiched between a good diaper flannel and a repurposed white undershirt. I just zig-zagged around the prefold layers to keep them in place in the soaker, and serged around the outer layers' edges. The prefold layer is a little stiffer than I would prefer, but I have a bunch that I want to use up.

For the center outer layer I used some of a PUL remnant I bought at JOANN'S that was really too short for most diapers, but great for this. For the stretchy side wings I used a pique knit polo shirt that Hubby had thrown in the repurpose pile. For the inner layer I used the repurposed white undershirt. And I happened to have a piece of white FOE for binding that had been slightly abused and torn off of another project. The pattern recommends twill tape to stabilize the stretchy wing edges where the snaps go, and all I had was black, but it turns to the inside anyway.

The pattern actually suggests using non-absorbent stretchy knits for the inside and wings to avoid wicking, but I am big into repurposing, so we just make do. Besides, If I'm going to be changing him after every little tinkle, wicking shouldn't be an issue! Most of the time I don't even put a waterproof cover on him at home when it's warm. I love how the soaker is only attached at the front and back for faster drying.

So, aside from a few deviations, which I can't seem to help doing, I followed the pattern and was able to complete a pair in a couple hours (printing pattern, measuring for size, cutting pattern, cutting fabrics, serging soaker, sewing body). Of course I had to put them on him immediately to see how they fit and I was very happy. I did notice when I took them off later that there were some little elastic marks on his thighs, so we will size up the elastic next time!

If you are looking for a trainers pattern, I would definitely recommend this one. If you are new to sewing, some challenges might be working with PUL and FOE--but if I can do it, SEW can you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Further Notes on Sewing Daddy Flats--Using Velcro

I have been asked before whether or not Daddy Flats could be sewn with Velcro (Touchtape, Aplix), so I decided to try it out and see. I had messed up the wings on a Daddy Flat I was sewing and thought it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. These Daddy Flats were made with one layer of cotton velour Sock Monkey Print and one layer of super thick diaper flannel.

I started by sewing up my Daddy Flat as usual. Then I cut two pieces (1.5x1.5 inches) of touchtape hook, and four pieces (same size) of loop fabric. I also cut a 5 1/4 x 2 inches piece of loop fabric for the tummy panel. I choose loop fabric for the loop side because it is so much softer and more flexible than touchtape. You can only find this fabric through diaper suppliers. Touchtape could also be used. The loop fabric on top of the tab will allow the wing to cross-over if necessary.

First I attached the wing tabs by sandwiching the wing end between a piece of hook (facing the inside of the diaper) and a piece of Loop fabric (facing upwards), with the tabs hanging over slightly. I put one pin into the tabs to keep them from shifting on the first side I sewed, then removed the pin to finish the square. I do a straight stitch because I have never found that I needed more, and for some reason my machine doesn't like to zig-zag the hook tape. You could do a regular or 3-step zigzag around the edges if you preferred.

After experimentation I found that my machine sewed the two layers together more neatly if I sewed with the hook tape facing upwards. I usually stitch 1/8" from the edges. I then sewed the other two 1.5" pieces of loop fabric beside the tabs, on the inside of the diaper, about 1/4" away. The only purpose of these tabs are to fold the wings over onto for washing. They are called laundry tabs and are meant to keep the hook part of the Velcro from grabbing and ruining things in the wash.

Finally, I attached the tummy panel of loop fabric centering it where your snaps would go, 1/2" down from the top edge. It went together quickly.

If you do not have access to snaps/pliers etc, this might be a good option for you to try.

Beware: If you let your little one run around without a cover at home, the Velcro closure is definitely more likely to be undone by your little one!

If you aren't familiar with Daddy Flats, click on the link above for more information about this great pattern and see my other blog posts about sewing Daddy Flats!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Neat Idea---Fertility Tracking Jewelry

Recently a friend of mine gave me a neat little gift, a fertility tracking anklet. If you are at all familiar with the Rhythm Method or Natural Family Planning, the application of this piece of jewelry will be immediately apparent to you.

We first saw these in bracelet form in an Etsy store and thought, "what a great idea." The idea being that you use the bracelet as a reminder and to track your monthly cycle in order to be aware of your time of fertility either for the purpose of getting pregnant or not getting pregnant. Having said that, you must have fairly regular cycles for this concept to work for you, and you must be a careful person. Yesterday I checked my calendar with my anklet (last month was the only month in ages that I had made any notation of this), and I was several days off with my charm, which means I either forgot to move it or I put it in the wrong place to begin with. If you are a scheduled person and attentive to detail, this may be just the thing for you. Since it has been many, many, many years since I have used the Rhythm Method or paid any attention to my cycle for those purposes, I am still in the testing phase of whether or not this will be valuable to me other than being an attractive piece of jewelry.

How to use one: The different color beads represent the changes in your cycle, during your "time", likely to get pregnant, likely ovulating, unlikely to get pregnant. A charm is attached with a lobster claw to move along the anklet each day. See the Etsy link above for a chart that details it.

If you are already into making jewelry, one of these would be a snap to throw together and could be a real reflection of your personality. You could even make more than one to go with different color schemes. I like it as an anklet, but I could also see it somehow transformed into a necklace version. The problem I am now seeing is that mine will be too bulky to wear under socks in the winter. Sometime in the next few months I plan to experiment with creating a very fine anklet that could be worn with winter wear. The one my friend created for me is made of all earth tones and silver. This works well for me because I rarely wear bright colors and I think it goes with most everything. The charm says "laugh often" on one side and "love much" on the other--both of which I need to remember to do.

I just think these are a great idea and wanted to share it! You may be wondering how the anklet looks on, but I am going to spare you the sight of my blocky "Dutch" ankles and let you use your imagination.