Sunday, November 27, 2011

Button Tree Sweatshirt

I love this project for several reasons. Not only is it festive and easy to make, but it is really fun to wear. The buttons make a little jingle sound when you move that kids absolutely love.
First, lets get the "Don't make this shirt for anyone that is small enough to bite the buttons off the front" warning out of the way. Grant and Maddie are going to have to wait a few years for theirs.

You are going to need:

1 bag of Laura Kelly green buttons. (One bag is probably enough for 2 kid size shirts.)
Green sewing thread

1 sweatshirt, the color of your choice, it doesn't have to be red.

1 embroidery hoop. Hand embroidery or machine embroidery, the hoop just needs to be a bit larger than the size of your tree.
1 triangle pattern - you are going to make this yourself so you will need 1 sheet of paper.

1 small rectangle of brown fabric if you want your tree to have a trunk

Brown thread for the tree trunk applique

A Button Sew-On foot for your machine, it's a #18 if you are a BERNINA owner.

Basic sewing supplies

Create your triangle tree shape by folding a sheet of paper in half lengthwise. Place your rotary ruler on the paper so that one edge extends from one corner of the folded paper to the opposite diagonal corner. Cut. (Yes I know that cutting paper with your rotary blade will dull it - use an old one. Having an extra rotary cutter with a not-sharp-enough-for-fabric blade at this time of year helps with gift wrapping too!) This is your tree pattern. Trace it on to the front of your sweatshirt using a removable marking pencil.

If you are adding a trunk to your tree, use a bit of paper backed fusible web fused to the brown fabric and cut a rectangle. Fuse it in place and stitch around it. The trunk isn't necessary, everyone will realize the green triangle is a tree without the trunk. I just added that step for you purists. Not making a trunk has one added benefit. After the holiday you can cut the buttons off and replace them with red buttons in the shape of a heart! Same shirt - new look!

Now put the shirt into the embroidery hoop. You want the shirt flat on the bottom of the hoop as you would for machine embroidery. For you hand stitchers, this is upside down. Put the outside of the hoop on the inside of the shirt. Push the inside of the hoop down from the outside of the shirt and secure. This will allow the shirt to sit flat on the surface of your sewing machine.

You didn't think we were going to sew those button on by hand did you?

Look at your buttonhole menu. Is there a picture of a button? Press it. All machines that do a zigzag stitch are capable of sewing buttons on. If you think about it, all that is required is a zigzag stitch that doesn't go anywhere. If you don't have a button sew on feature, set your stitch length to zero and your stitch width to match the holes in the buttons. The holes in buttons are pretty standard, so once you determine the setting you are good to go.

Set your machine up for free arm sewing. Slide the hooped shirt under the presser foot. You might have to take the foot off to get the hoop past the needle depending on what type of hoop you are using. When you have the shirt ready to sew, secure your Button Sew-On foot in place. - What? You don't have a Button Sew-On Foot? Ok, you can use another wide base zig-zag foot, but the process isn't going to be as much fun. Having the right tools makes the whole process SO much easier. BERNINA's #18 foot has little rubber feet that hold the button in place as you stitch. If you don't have that foot, you are going to have to sew slowly and keep a careful eye that the button doesn't slip and break your needle.

Place a handful of buttons on the shirt and scoot them into position inside the tree shape. Arrange them randomly using only the sew-through buttons. Save the ones with a shank for another project. Hop from button to button as you fill in the shape. If you have scissors built into your machine, this is a great place to use them. If you don't have scissors, just hop from button to button, you can trim all of the carrier threads later. Fill the entire triangle shape with buttons. Trim threads and enjoy!

Here are some helpful hints:
To keep the stitch spacing, some 4 hole buttons get stitched in parallel lines, smaller ones get stitched in an X. Look at the distance between the holes to tell the difference.

Make sure the whole tree is inside the hoop you select, you can't move the hoop after you have started to sew buttons.

Don't use a t-shirt, the buttons are too heavy. You need a sweatshirt for support

Turn the sweatshirt inside out to launder it so that the buttons don't get caught in the wash.

If you don't have a button sew-on stitch or scissors built into your machine, let Santa know, he might be in a generous mood this year!

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