Sunday, 7 April 2013

Footed Baby Tights Tutorial

These are nearly as straight forward as the baby pants.  No side seams either!

Baby pants are a breeze to make and are perfect for summer when there is no need for socks.  Really, how long do socks stay on?  As hilarious as it is watching your little carpet monkey triumphantly waving a pulled off sock like a flag, it's nice to know that their little feet are not turning into icicles.  Footed tights are like pants and socks in one, and they are way easier to sew than you'd expect.  Well, that clearly depends on your level of expectation, but if you've made pants, the footed tights are only incrementally more challenging.

For this project you will need:
  • existing pants that fit to make a pattern from as shown in Baby Pants post
  • tracing paper and basic draughting tools
  • not much fabric or old t-shirts.  I made mine from a merino blend and cotton scraps.
  • waistband elastic
  • twin stretch needle
  • wooly nylon thread for the bobbin on the sewing machine and one of the lower loopers on the overlocker

1. Use a Baby Pants pattern as your starting point if you don't already have a pattern for footed tights.  Firstly, you need to mirror it along the side edge and redraw on a new piece of paper.  You can see that my back and front crotch seams aren't the same because I increased the back crotch seam length to make more room for the bum.  If your baby wears disposable nappies, or if you're using very stretchy fabric, this isn't at all necessary.
Footed tights pattern cut out of [doubled] fabric
Measure the side of your baby to determine the length of the tights: waist (belly button level) to bottom of the heel +3.5cm for waistband and seam allowance.

2.  The easiest way to draw the foot end is to roughly trace around the baby's foot and add 1cm all the way around the perimeter for the seam allowance.  You should end up with an egg shape.  Now you have the sole!  To make the top part, simply trace the front 2/3 of the sole, and instead of joining the ends of the curve with a straight line, draw a shallow convex curve.
Notice the notches on the sole: they locate the seam placement

3.  The concave curve at the front of the leg should be deeper than the curve of the foot top.  Even though they look mismatched, the two edges are actually the same length.  The difference in curvature creates a 3D seam around the top of the foot.

4.  Phew, the hardest part is now out of the way.  The actual sewing part is a piece of cake. 
With right sides together sew the crotch seams.

5.  Next, you will attach the top of the foot to the front of the leg (sounds like the makings of a Frankenstein).  Because you're working with opposing curves, you really do need to pin everything in place and then overlock very very carefully to keep the material from shifting at the same time as avoiding destroying your machine by hitting a pin.
Pin from the centres.  Fold each piece in half to locate the centre point
Pin the end together.  Even though it looks like the equivalent of trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, the edges will match up when stretched.
You'll get a tidy, curving seam
Right side
 6.  Next step is attaching the sole to the back of the leg.  Similarly to the previous step, you're joining differently shaped edges together
Pin from the centres out.  The notches on the sole (see caption in step 2) will line up with the edge of the top of the foot on one side and the seam allowance of the inner seam on the other side.
See, once that seam is sewn, everything lines up nicely.
7.  One more seam, and these finally resemble something recognisable.  Sew from the outside of one foot, all the way around the inner leg seam to the outside of the other foot.  This is the most satisfying seam of the project!
Woohoo feet!
Turn right side out and hi-five yourself!
 8.  Fold and pin the top to make the waistband elastic casing.  It needs to be wide enough for the elastic to fit, but not too wide for it to end up twisting inside.
Pinned elastic casing
 9.  Fold the centre front seam allowance in the same direction to make sure it lies flat and doesn't twist.  Then using a twin needle, sew around the waistband.  You need to leave enough of a gap between the start and the end of the stitch for pulling the elastic through.  I always make that the back of the garment.  I felt like being liberal with colour and used contrasting stitching. Contrasting stitching that's visible on the outside is a sweet design element that makes your garment look more professional.  Think jeans.
Keep the seam allowance folded in the same direction
 10. Finally you get to make the elasticated waist band, i.e shove the elastic inside its casing.  Stick a safety pin in one end of the elastic and pull through the gap [you didn't forget to leave]

11.  Make sure the elastic is flat inside the casing and sew the ends of the elastic together and wiggle it inside the casing.

And now your baby has some lovely footed tights.  Not that he or she particularly appreciates your exquisite craftsmanship.
You may as well make a few at the same time...
Two are cotton and one is a merino blend.

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