Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Amazing What You Can Do With The Right Tools.

It's no secret that I love Babylegs. They have been one of the most useful items of baby/kid gear we've owned. They continue to be so, especially now that she's in preschool. The kids spend at least an hour on the (really cool wooden/natural) playground at her school every day, and they also spend time inside playing and doing art or other activites. The weather this fall has been pretty dry, with cool mornings and warm afternoons. Sometimes there's a 15 or 20-degree difference in the temperature between getting into the car at 9:00 and picking her up from the school playground at 1:15. I put her in shorts or a skirt + legwarmers in the morning, and when she gets too warm she can take them off, ditch her jacket, and run around without overheating.

However, at $12 a pair, with care instructions that include the words "hand wash," they are not exactly ideal for the rigors of paint, soap, glue, slides, woodchips, sandbox, hiking trails, and everything else she gets into at school. Plus the actual Babylegs styles seem to be getting both more cutesy and more gendered - lots more sections labeled "girl" and "boy" and lots fewer stylish designs - so I decided to just make her some out of knee socks.

I'd seen the tutorials around for a few years (and had a secret stash of knee socks hidden under some fabric in my closet, just waiting for the "someday" when I could get to them), so I looked over a few sets of instructions, threaded my machine, and got to work. It was supposed to be easy-peasy: just cut off the foot part, chop off the heel & toe, use the remaining small tube of fabric from the foot part to make a band, and sew it to the leg part. Ten minutes, tops.

You can guess where this is headed.

Even though I cut and pinned carefully, the knit sock fabric did not cooperate. It slipped. It dragged. I swore. I shrieked. I hunched over my machine with clenched hands and a sweaty brow. I tried different stitches, different machine settings. I sewed and ripped it out over and over. And after four days of failure, I remembered all the praise I had heard about ball-point needles. I bought a pack of eight.

Once I got home and put one in the machine, it only took me ten minutes to sew up all four pairs.

Ball point needles! For sewing knits! Who knew that would be the key to my problems sewing with knits?!

If only all my problems could be solved for $3.95.

(crappy cell phone photo, taken under compact florescent light bulbs, at night)

These are primarily Halloween ones, because I have a big pile of socks waiting to be legwarmer-ized but it was four days to Halloween at this point, so I wanted to do those first. The long blue ones were the experimental pair. I figured if I screwed them up, it was okay, blue socks are easy to come by, but I wasn't about to fool around with my $5-a-pair Halloween socks. Thanks to the needle change, they came out really well, except for the part where I didn't realize the argyle skulls would come out upside-down on the bottom bands. Oh, well. Eventually I'll get some plain gray ribbing and replace the bottom bands on those. Maybe. I sewed all these with a straight normal stitch set on the longest length, and they all stretch fine. I did not finish the seams in any way, because I am lazy and I keep forgetting to buy some pinking shears. I suppose they could come undone, but I don't really care. I made these partly because they're cute but mostly so she could trash them at school, so it's no big deal. Besides, if they start to come undone, that's Future Steph's problem.

The short ruffled blue ones I did with a zig-zag stitch, because they were toe socks and there was nothing to make a bottom band out of. Besides, this way they will fit nicely over her shoes and keep water/snow/dirt out of her socks. They also make some wicked cute arm/hand-warmers - I know this because I keep wearing them that way. Every time I do, Piper looks annoyed and asks me "Mommy, you have Babylegs on your ARMS! They are supposed to go on LEGS!"


Trish said...

Aw man, these are at least 11 kinds of awesome. Even in your cell phone camera shots, I can tell that they're amazing (and I'm thrilled to learn that I can wear them as wrist/arm warmers!). I'm definitely going to have to look into ball-point needles before I try to sew any knit fabric, so extra thanks for that tip!

anotheryarn said...

Awesome. And I wouldn't worry about the finishing, one of the things about knits is that they aren't supposed to fray. I'm not sure pinking shears would even be good for knit fabric... (says the girl with stacks of knit patterns, 4 yards of knit fabric she is too scared to cut into as well as numerous t-shirts waiting for refashioning of some sort.