Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bib It

I might possibly have a bit of a caffeine problem--Matt slept in for freakin' ever this morning, and even though he doesn't drink coffee himself, he's the only one who knows how to operate the French press and he has some sort of mysterious, elaborate ritual every morning to make coffee for me (I hear the sink, then the teakettle whistling, then silence, then the refrigerator, then the microwave--it's crazy). So with Matt asleep, the girls and I had breakfast, and read a million books, and did some laundry, and gardened out in the backyard, and I was just getting madder and madder at Matt. How dare he sleep for half the morning? We had literally just had this exact fight about how he acts like he lives in a hotel, and here he is acting like he lives in a hotel! And so it's something like 10:30 am, and I still can't find the really gross smell in the backyard that's coming from...somewhere, and Sydney upends an entire peat pot of seedlings, so I grab her up, bust into the house and into the bedroom, shriek "GET UUUUUUUPPPP!" and burst into tears. So I'm sitting on the kids' bed, totally having a nervous breakdown, but then Matt fixes my coffee, and as I drink it, I inexplicably start to feel better. By the time I finish my coffee, everything is completely all right again. That's a caffeine problem, not a partner problem, isn't it?

I am, at the moment, utterly obsessed with tie-dyed bibs. They're really quick and easy to make, because I made two in literally five-minute spurts throughout the day (I cut out two while Matt read board books to the girls, later I ironed on the interfacing while he searched all over the house for two matching shoes for each of them, later I sewed one up while Willow played a computer game from the library, I sewed up another one both before and after this...
...later I topstitched one and added snaps while Matt gave the girls a bath, and so on). They're also really satisfying, because I think they look just terrific. They look as if they'd been sewn, and then tie-dyed, and it's just a really unusual yet fun look for a little kid, and non-cutesy--I am so anti-cutesy. Anyway, here's a tutorial:

1. Create a pattern. If you're just making them as gifts or for yourself, there are numerous free patterns on the internet, but if you're even contemplating the possibility of accepting compensation for them, even in the future, it's worth the time to create your own pattern. I looked through several patterns for bibs before I made my own, and they're all really similar, as you might imagine, but I made mine to be very simple, since the tie-dye itself has plenty of impact, and wth a longer and wider base and a longer neck strap than most patterns I'd seen, and after having some early trouble with snaps, I reinforce the whole neck area with interfacing.

2. Cut the bib pieces, front and back, out of an old tie-dyed shirt. I've gotten to where I get a ton of use out of each tie-dyed shirt I come across: I end up with two large quilt panels, one bib, and either an entire set of coaster pieces or several small quilt blocks.

3. If you're going to fasten the bib with snaps, you should definitely reinforce the neck with fusible interfacing--otherwise, the snaps often won't set properly, and can pull out of the material if a lot of force is used. If you're going to fasten with Velcro, you don't really need to add interfacing, but I like the structure it adds to the neck area. Alternately, you could cover the entire bib with interfacing, or even a layer of batting or plastic. Your two bib pieces should be sitting front-to-front, and if you're using interfacing, iron it to the outside of one of your pieces, so that it will be inside when you turn it after you sew: 4. Sewing T-shirt material can be a little tricky. You want to use a small ball point or stretch needle, and you'll usually have to loosen your thread tension and lengthen your stitches, as well. If your material gathers, your tension is too tight. A medium zig-zag stitch will always work, but the stitch edges will show through, then, at the roundy parts of the bib after you turn it. I don't think that looks bad, but it's something to think about. If you're worried that a long, loose stitch won't be strong enough, though, know that we'll also be top-stitching around the whole bib again later:

5. Don't forget to leave a hole, and then turn your sewn bib right-side out. You can iron it at this point, or just smooth and shape it by hand, but then top-stitch again around the entire bib. This flattens it, strengthens those earlier loose stitches, and I think looks very nice as a border. The top-stitching also neatly closes the hole you left for turning the bib. 6. Here's where you choose your fastener. I dislike hand-sewing Velcro, but frankly, snaps are usually overkill--I mean, it's a bib, people, not your pants. I like a sturdy fastener as much as the next person, but having a fastener much stronger than your material will wear on the material a lot when you open and close the fastener. That being said, I still mostly use snaps--the snap fastener is a tool, and I'm a sucker for tools:
And that's it!

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