Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Art Smock Tutorial (Otherwise entitled: Why I Should Probably Not Try to Teach Anyone How to Sew)

I have been spending my last couple weeks, on and off, shopping for back to school supplies, new shoes, and clothes. I have to admit that, while I tried to remain conservative (price and amount) with what I bought, I did have fun choosing new things for the kiddos. Someday, I know, they will dictate to ME what they want. I am enjoying still being in charge!

One of the items on Cal's school supply list was a smock for art class. It suggested an adult shirt, but when I pulled out one of Mike's old ones it was just SO huge on Calvin's body it seemed to me it would interfere with his creative process. Not wanting to hinder his artistic genius in any way, I decided to take it in. I took some pictures along the way, in case anyone else wants to try it. Although I doubt most people with a sewing machine would even need these instructions and am convinced that all of my readers that sew have more skill than I do, here is my rather feeble attempt at a tutorial. You will find that my methods are very "eyeball it," so if you like precision please feel free to use more measuring and pins and such.

1. Button a large shirt and lay it, placket up, on a cutting surface. Lay a long sleeved t-shirt of the child to be fit on top of it, lining up the necks.

2. Cut up the sides, under the arms and along the cuffs generously, leaving room for seams and clothing that will be worn under the shirt. If you want to shorten it as well, now would be a good time. I didn't bother.

3. Turn the shirt inside out, opening the sleeves. Making sure to leave the wrong side of the sleeve up, turn up the edge a quarter inch or so and press.

4. Turn again to desired sleeve length and press to hem the cuff. (If you like pins, pin here, but the pressing really should do it.)

5. Sew along the fold to finish the cuff.

6. Keeping the shirt inside-out, fold cut edges of sleeve and shirt body together. Again, right sides facing. (If you like to pin, pin here. I just hold it together and adjust as I sew.) Sew cut edges together with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. To ensure the sleeves come out even, start at the cuff and move down to the side seam. If your fabric shifts and you're going the other way, your hems might not meet.

7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other side of the shirt. Your shirt should look like this when inside-out.

8. Make a few snips with your scissors at the armpit curve, being careful not to cut the seam. Press open the seam (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this, but I'll assume everyone gets that) and then close it again for the next step.

9. Following your seam line, zigzag all the way from sleeve to the bottom of the shirt to prevent fraying.

10. Now, if your shirt was very large to begin with and had a longer tail than front like mine did, you may end up with an uneven match at the bottom of the shirt hem, like this:

Because it is an art smock and I wasn't too worried about this, I only sewed to the place the two came together, then I folded over the rough edge, pressed and zig-zagged it closed. If this is something that would bother you, you might do better to shorted the whole thing to the same length and hem it in the same way you hemmed the sleeve cuffs.

So, here is Calvin in his smock! Long, yes, but it will protect his clothes. But the sleeves are sort of long and loose. Again, I fear I might hamper his creativity with these sleeves. If you have this trouble with your sleeves, or you also are worried about your budding Rembrant, try making a case for elastic at the cuff.

11. Turn your shirt inside-out again. Turn your cuff over and press, allowing a big enough casing to enclose whatever size elastic you have chosen (i.e. whatever is hanging out leftover in your scrap bin). Sew along the folded edge again all the way around, save for an opening at the seam big enough to thread your elastic through. Back stitch at the beginning and the end of the seam so you don't tear the stitches when you thread the elastic. Run a safety pin through one end of the elastic and insert in the opening you left. Wiggle the pin through the casing by bunching the fabric around it and pulling the elastic behind until the casing is filled.

12. Adjust elastic to desired circumference and bunchiness. Overlap the two pieces and pull them both out away from the casing, keeping them overlapped. Run your machine back and forth a few times over the same spot to sew them together, being careful not to sew them to the shirt! Snip the excess and tuck them back in the casing. Sew the opening.

You're done! Your school is happy and your budding artist is free to create without fear of messing those great new clothes.

*I see where I could have done some more pictures, but I am going to stick to my theory that you all already now how to do this stuff and I am just giving you a quick idea. And, wow, I am pretty sure this tutorial took me longer than sewing and photographing what I did earlier, so this is going to be the only one for awhile!


Melissa Crowe said...

Right?! It seems like no big deal when you're reading other people's tutorials, but it seems to take FOREVER when I do it myself.

And good job, Mama! Don't you feel like a bit of a rock star because your kid will have a just-right smock thanks to you?

Dana said...

Look at you!

Can I just call you crafty mama now?

nicola said...

AWESOME! we use men's shirts, too, but i just chop off the arms. LOL