Friday, May 15, 2020

Enlarging a Shirt

So have you put on a few more pounds from all those mug cakes, or by not going out on quite as many walks as you'd planned?  Or did you order some clothes, get the wrong size and just don't feel like dealing with returns?  Or maybe you have a t-shirt that you love and would wear if only it didn't make you look like a stuffed burrito...

Admittedly this is only handy if you sew (whether by hand or machine) or can talk someone who does sew into it...but here's a fix.

I needed a lightweight house robe for a man, but that's hard to find...the thrift shops are closed at the moment, most at the stores are at least flannel, and online most are for colder climes.  Figured I could cobble two pj shirts together into a decent one, but I'd also need to enlarge them to make a decently large robe.  I really didn't want to accidentally ruin two new shirts if I overestimated my abilities, so I researched how others might have handled the problem, then tried it out on an old favorite but inexplicably shrunken robe of mine. 

Basically, you make side panels.

corner of house robe
Open the side seams of your top

So, here is my scruffy cotton kimono-esque robe.  You can use this trick on shirts, t-shirts, simple dresses, whatever you can get away with.

Open the seam that runs up the side of the shirt/robe, from the edge of the sleeve to the bottom of the hem.
And of course do that on both sides, assuming you're into symmetry.  If there is no actual seam, you can just cut it open, but try to do it as straight as you can or you will have a much more interesting top than you planned on.

I used a seam ripper for a while, then got impatient and cut the rest along the seam.  (It's a very dull seam ripper)
Opening side seam of robe
Side seam being opened
Hard to see the opening on black, but the whole side of the garment is open so there is a front piece (still connected by the shoulder/top of the sleeve) and the back side.  I opened both side seams, but you can do this one at a time.

Opened seam of robe
Opened seam
Hopefully you can see the open seam better in this photo. 
Next you will need to find a long panel piece of fabric, preferably of the same type or weight as the rest of the shirt, and hopefully something that will go with your shirt (either matching the color or pattern, or complementing it).  Unless you don't care, then go with whatever you can scrounge up.

So to do this, you need to estimate how much larger (width-wise) you should add to your top in order to be able to wear it comfortably.  If it almost fits, maybe you just need a couple of inches of scoosh space.  If it is very uncomfortable, maybe you need 4" or 8" of added material.  If it is ridiculous, just turn the shirt into a pillow.

Say you need 4" of space.  You need a little extra room to sew a seam on either side of the panel as well.  You will have two panels (one on each side of the shirt) so you will divide this by two.
So if you wanted beefy half-inch seams, you'd need two panels of 3" wide material, for example.
Or 2-1/2" strips, if you use the standard quarter-inch seams. 

Making side panel strip
Adding a side panel strip
The length of your strips will be a little longer than the distance from the edge of your sleeve, down the whole side seam, to the hem of the shirt.
If you don't have anything that long, no problem, just cut short strips and sew them together into one long strip.

If you're going to do this properly and nice, you should pay attention to line things up with the weave of your material, or create the strip on the bias.  But if you're just slapping it together or it's a t-shirt, this'll do fine.

You can hem the edges of your strip up first to match your top (where the sleeve starts and where the garment ends at the hem) or you can leave that for later and match it up (or hem up the whole thing).  I left mine for later.

Anyway, with the garment inside-out, pin the strip from the sleeve edge (if you haven't hemmed it, let it hang out enough to hem) down to the bottom garment edge/hem (also leaving hem room if you haven't already hemmed it).

Pinning strip to robe
Pin panel strip along seam line
Make sure the inside-out side of the top and the backside of the fabric strip are the sides you are working with/see.  Good-side against good-side

Pinning both sides of strip to robe
Both edges pinned down (sleeve end). There is a pieced seam across this
part of the panel; when you sew the panel in, try to have the seam flaps
either open or aimed down toward the bottom hem...just feels nicer.
If you'd rather do one side at a time, that is ok.  I did all the pinning for one side seam at the same time (so now I have a seam on each side of the panel strip, instead of the original one-seam).

Both sides of panel pinned to seam
Whole side of panel strip pinned for sewing
So take this mess to your sewing machine (or sit down for a good bout of hand sewing).  Using a basting stitch, try to sew both seams in the same direction.  That is, start from the edge of the sleeve and sew down to the bottom hem.  Or do it the other way around.  But also do the second seam the same way, so the fabric doesn't scrunch up or do anything else naughty.

You should baste it in, just in case you need to do some serious altering, like if you sewed it in the wrong way round or it is way too big or way too small, etc.  And you'll need to see if it fits okay around the sleeve.

Basting panel seam (one side)
Basting one edge of the panel to the top.

Basting in other side of panel seam
Basting in the other seam of the panel strip.

Nothing like having to rip a tight seam out again.  And again...

Panel side basted into garment
Do the other side of the garment the same way.

When you get one side done, do the other one, or you'll be unusually avant garde.  Or at least breezy.

Top with side panels inserted
Top with side panels inserted.
Ta da, you have new girth to your garment!  See if it fits ok.  If it doesn't, you'll have to alter it a bit or live with it.  If it does, go back and sew the seams in with a proper sewing stitch so your work doesn't fall out when you wear or wash it.  Then you'll need to finish off the seams in whatever way suits you...if you're lazy, just leave them be.  Otherwise you might want to iron them open, or zigzag trim them with pinking shears, or serge them, top stitch them into place, or get fancy with a french seam...whatever.  I haven't done any of this yet, so my robe here is all puffy and wrinkly, but, you get the idea.

Whole robe shown with panels
Longer shot of robe with side panels.
Don't forget to hem the panel ends --the sleeve and the bottom hem bits.  You can either do just the panel section (carefully) or you can turn the whole hem under, add seam binding to hem on, use lace, etc. instead, whatever you like.  

Anyway I think I can handle making a robe now.  Hope you can figure any of this out!  Share/show your results if you try it!

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

Well, found a book sitting around in my room and figured it was a good time to read it. 
It was a #1 New York Times Bestseller, has had a lot of good reviews in general, and I’d have to say I’d add to them.

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman was a fun read.  I’m not sure if it should be called a humor book, but it is very funny.  It’s hilarious and sad and bittersweet and charming and real and crazy all at the same time.

A Man Called Ove novel
Basically it is a biography about a grumpy Swedish fellow.  The events and people in his life help shape his personality, but his personality drives his view of the world and consequently all his actions. 

He likes things SIMPLE and has no patience for anything else.  He’s not exactly OCD, but his perspective is extremely rigid, so he has trouble understanding the rest of the fickle world and their lack of understanding of the obvious rules.  One does things at a certain time, a certain way, and that’s that.  He has a very black and white way of thinking, what is right is just right and what is wrong is wrong no matter what and one cannot just change things because of...anything.  So he is very upstanding for what he believes is the correct way to act, but it gets him in trouble periodically because he cannot bend those rules or see other points of view.   There is brand loyalty (to the extreme); a man doesn’t do X no matter what the fallout might be; if the sign says no driving in the residential area, there is no driving in the residential area for anyone at any time!!  And he makes the rounds to make sure everything is just so, too.

So he comes off as curmudgeonly, even as a youth.  But he still manages to find employment, learn skills, and support himself, and surprisingly, even finds love.

It’s this love that gets him through most of his life; a lady he falls head over heels for at first sight, and who eventually loves him back as he is.  He still only understands the simple life and the basic rules everyone should know...but he will do anything for Sophia and her laugh, even bend a little.

They set up a life and make plans and friends and the like, but life happens, plans don’t quite pan out.  Sophia helps Ove adapt as they go.

Until one day, she can’t any more, and Ove’s life crashes.  He can’t stand living without her.  She was the only thing he thought worth living for in this constantly changing world.  And now she was gone.  So he starts making plans to join her.  Repeatedly.

But try as he might, life still keeps happening, interrupting all his attempts.  Crazy new neighbors move in and start taking over his life.  A cat becomes his roommate against Ove’s wishes.  Ove becomes important to the community with his acts and skills, and finds himself friends, roommates, even granddaughters, all despite himself.

Definitely worth a read.  (especially if you know people, or are people, like Ove!)

Apparently it is also a movie (though not in English, captioned only):
A Man Called Ove movie

Monday, May 4, 2020

May the 4th Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day!
Star Wars fans celebrate May the 4th as their very own day to play up the fun and adventure of the world of Star Wars, based on the Jedi mantra of "May the Force Be With You!"  Some go on to celebrate May 5th as well, playing on "Revenge of the Sith" to be the day of "Revenge of the Fifth" for "honoring" all the Star Wars villains and less pleasant characters.  So Yoda gets his day and Darth Vader gets his.  So to speak.

Here are a few links to explore the world of Star Wars Day.
(the official Star Wars --Disney-- website--everything Star Wars if you explore long enough!)
(part of the above, but specific to kids, with lots of Star Wars activities!)
(more Star Wars fun)
(This is a website of soundboards--soundclips from movies that are fun
to play with; they have a whole page of different Star Wars sounds)
(Wikipedia, about Star Wars)
(Wookiepedia, about Star Wars and it's fandom)
(Activities to print out for young Jedis)
(Even more Star Wars stuff to do)
(And if you haven't had enough ideas, they keep on coming here, too!
Activities to print out, crafts, downloads, and food to make)
(Try some Star Wars papercrafts!)
(And more crafty fun)
(And even more!!)
(Sayings to spread around to sound all Star Warsy)

So you see, there's PLENTY to do on Star Wars Day!
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

and, of course,

“The Force will be with you. Always.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi