Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tutorial: adjusting RTW baby jammies with buttonhole elastic

Okay, buttonhole elastic is a marvelous invention.  Examine a lot of RTW toddler pants, and you'll find it installed in the back waistband.  It is, however, a bit hard to find locally.  At least where I live.  Hancock's used to sell it by the yard, but the Douglasville store closed when they closed down a lot of stores a few years back.  Joanns doesn't carry it, and neither does Hobby Lobby.  It is, however, readily available on the internet. I got mine from ebay for less than $1 a yard.

So you've got this adorable outfit for your baby that while it claims to be the correct size, is much too wide.  Since the size increments are in three-month intervals, you might need to do a fifteen-minute project to fix this so your child can get more wear out of it.  These are Alina's new jammies.  She's extremely slender, so I already know they'll be too wide. (I have two pairs I'll be adjusting here, so I may be using pictures interchangeably.

The first thing you need to do is make a casing.  I used leftover commercial quilt binding from Nikki's and Gracie's matching dresses.  The color doesn't matter, because this is on the inside, and it won't show from the outside.  You might, however, want to choose a color of thread that will blend in.

Decide how long you want it to be, cut it off, and hem the ends.  Since everything else will be topstitched, don't bother with hand hemming.

Next, place the new casing on the center back panel of the jammies.  You might want to take your seam gauge and measure to make sure that it's exactly on center.  Pin it and top stitch it down.  Be sure to go back and forth on the ends to completely lock it in place, because the ends will get a lot of wear.

On ready-to-wear garments that have the elastic, the buttons are sewn near the side seams.  There's no reason not to copy that, so you need enough elastic to reach where your buttons will be.  I measured by laying it over to top of the new casing.   Make sure that you have enough that it will be able to be buttoned on the last hole without gathering anything.  This will maximize the amount of time the baby can wear it.

The next thing to do is to cut it and heat seal the ends.  It'll stink, but heat sealing is the most efficient way to make sure that it won't ravel on you.  While you can cut and seal at the same time with a wood burner, I use a Bic lighter that I bought just for this.  I use it for ribbon, too.

Next, thread the elastic through the casing.  While there are fancy tools to do this, all you really need is a safety pin.  Make sure that the ends are even, and pin it through the middle of the casing.

Stitch through the middle to anchor the elastic.  Make sure to lock the ends in place because it'll have to withstand lots of tugging and pulling. 

Pin back the ends, and sew the buttons on in the side seams.  Smaller buttons are better, depending on the size of your buttonholes in the elastic.

Once this is done, you should be able to button the elastic to the side seams without any gathering at all.  The only thing that will show from the outside, if done properly, is the stitching!

After my next thrifting trip, I'll do another tutorial on how to make a RTW waistband adjustable!

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