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Sewing Jurassic Park(tm) #2: baby suit out of sweater

If you ever saw Jurassic Park, you will remember the whole basis of the (oh, the horror!) story was that scientists extracted DNA from the blood found inside mosquitoes trapped in amber and then did some kitchen magic with some frogs and voila – instant dinosaurs. Now, we won’t get into the whole ethical and just plain nutty arguments on this, but suffice it to say, the scientists took building blocks and created something else.

Now, in our last episode, what I resurrected was something ‘out of whole cloth’ (so to speak) from the past. This time, I am doing what the scientists did in JP and taking a building block and creating something else, in this case, a set of baby clothing out of an old acrylic sweater.

Other than the ‘gee whiz’ aspect of this, why both to do it?

Well, finding exactly what you want in baby clothing (and at the price you wish to pay) is not always possible. I find that in general, winter baby things are created with American homes with thermostats set at 75 degrees are pretty much the norm. Chez Siberia is just not that. Even on days when we are feeling the need to be tropical, the thermostat only gets set at 65 and there are spots in the house where 60 degrees is as good as it gets. For little teeny babies, this is Arctic. I’ve created some pretty specific clothing for the grand-kinder to wear while here (wool sweaters, overalls lined in wool flannel or fleece and so on), and wanted a nice little cuddly sweater suit for when the latest addition comes to stay with us.

So, here’s the drill: Aunt Toby had an old, much loved but no longer fitting acrylic sweater, long sleeved, with ribbing around the neck. It was a little bit saggy-baggy but the ribbing at the bottoms of the sleeves and the sweater body was still good, as was the ribbing at the neck. So, as you see at the top, I took it apart and ended up with two sleeves, a front, a back and the neck ribbing. I chose a pattern from one of the Ottobre magazines that I have (the patterns are from Finland and if anyone knows how to make warm kids clothing, it’s the Scandinavians). What I was able to eke out of the pieces of sweater surprised even me.

First step – cut out your pattern and start folding your sweater body pieces to see the best placement. i knew that the sleeves would probably be best used for the leggings. One of the things I want to note (and the scissors in the photo are pointing to that), if you have ribbing at the bottoms of sleeves and the sweater body, take advantage of that. That ribbing is knitting right into the fabric, so just use that for the bottom of your sweater, or skirt or dress or leggings. Your pieces will then be all pre-finished for you, which is a real time-saver.

Once you’ve cut out all your pieces, sew them together with either a coverstitch machine or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. Be aware that cutting knitted fabric throws off a huge amount of fiber and fluff and you might want to stop every once in a while and brush out your mechanism and so on so that you don’t jam up the machine.

And here you have it, a complete baby set, including a hat (made from what was left of the top of one of the sleeves). I had a piece of ribbing left over which I inserted into one of the raglan sleeve seams; I’m going to sew on snap tape there for the neck opening (the original pattern wanted invisible zippers in both sleeves, which I definitely thought was overkill). What you are not seeing is the little handful of scraps that were left over.

So, this is just a reminder – just think creatively about things if you want to make something and that fabric per se, doesn’t seem to be out there. Cutting up an adult-sized garment into its component parts can yield actually a lot of fabric with which you can make a whole something for a child.

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2 Comments

  1. Marishka says:

    Very pretty, very nice work, frugal in the best way as always! Can you tell us where you get your Ottobre issues from?

  2. htwollin says:

    I get mine at Sewzanne Fabrics. They are very quick on the shipping.

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