Saturday, 24 October 2015

Baby / Toddler Salopettes from a Recycled Anorak

(I wrote this originally last February, but now it's October and I'm updating it.)

Baby I is growing out of all her winter clothes, and it’s still only February. She arrived one day in the baby carrier on Mum’s chest, as they'd walked to my house, and her trousers had gradually ridden up, leaving her ankles to get chilly. She didn’t seem bothered, but grandma thought she needed something warmer on.

Most of the shops are now mainly carrying their summer ranges, and it’s quite late in the season to buy clothes she will probably have outgrown by next winter. Seems like a real waste to buy expensive snowsuits to be used for what might only be two or three weeks more of cold weather. She’s got cosy anoraks, so it’s really the exposure for her legs.

So newgrandmawhowantstosew decided to make her some salopettes.

Below, you can find out how I made them. This photo has been taken 8 months later, when they have started to get a bit small. But, as you'll read below, I designed them with room for growth, so I'll now make a minor modification and hopefully they'll do her for at least part of this winter, too.

These started from a much larger size anorak from a charity shop (in pretty good condition) – but you could use an old one you have hanging about. This one was originally constructed with an outer layer comprising a polyester shell attached to some batting for warmth, and a separate polyester lining in pink. The hood was lined with a pink felt-y material instead of the silky finish of the rest of the lining.

First, I cut the arms off. These would form the legs (or the main part of the legs) of the salopettes.

You can see I have left the linings attached inside.


 I dismantled (by unpicking) almost all of the rest of the anorak.......

...........and separately, its lining.

Here are some of the pieces I ended up with.

Having got a pair of already lined legs formed from the anorak arms, I needed to make the rest of the body. Arms are not the same shape as legs, so I was left with a knicker-shaped gap in the middle, which is the part that goes from the top of the legs to just above the tummy. I used Dana’s Perfect Diaper Cover pattern to make this, which was cut from the back and sides of the anorak. The pictures below show the pattern pinned to the lining, but I did exactly the same with the outer fabric.


Because I knew the pants would be a good fit, I used the pattern also to tidy up the shaping at the top of the legs where this 'main body' would join. Here is the outer part of the 'main body' attached to the legs (shown inside out):

It creates an unusual seam from hip to crutch, But I could see no reason why trousers couldn't have a seam here. 

To attach the lining, I first pinned it all exactly to fit, to the lining of the legs.

Here's a close up of the pinning.

Then I turned it inside out to sew the main body of the lining to the leg linings (which were still attached to the leg outers at the ankles - originally the anorak arms).

I now had a cosy pair of padded trousers, which I elasticated at the waist. I decided only to have a bib part at the front, rather than front and back, or all round. This was mainly because I was running out of good size pieces of the anorak to play with. But I knew she would always be wearing a warm / padded jacket with it, so I didn't think this mattered.

To make the bib part, I made my own pattern, drawing a shape roughly like this:

The wider bottom part was wide enough to go side to side at the baby's waist, the top a little narrower so as to go across the front of her chest but not under her arms. In fact I think I cut a little curve at the top each side to make an armhole shape, even though it didn't reach right up to her armholes. The pattern making was more or less done by trial and error, and it all had to be fitted together by trial and error, too. I used parts of the anorak hood for the front bib, and other parts of the hood and the collar were made into straps. 

Now the straps part, seen below, is my own invention, designed as a feature to allow for growth. 

                 Front View                                                Back View

I made a neck band that would go over from the front right of the bib top, behind her neck, to front left. This was attached on only on the right. (You could reverse direction if you chose.) The free end and the corresponding bit of the bib had velcro attached for ease of getting the garment on.

From the centre back of the trouser part, I sewed on another very long strap, the idea being that this would double back on itself over the neck strap. This also had velcro, with a much longer piece for adjustment. I didn't build in any adjustment on the neck strap.

I've explained this in more detail in an earlier blog, on how to extend the life of baby clothes 

Another feature of these salopettes to allow for growth was the waistband. There was plenty of extra material in the seat, so the waistband was  elasticated round the back and just round the sides. I left about 3-4” of extra elastic attached so that I could unpick and let out more elastic as the baby’s waist increased. I had actually made the whole elastic with buttonhole elastic as it was all I had at the time, It occurred to me afterwards that an alternative would be to use buttonhole elastic deliberately, and to put a button each side, so you could button it more tightly to start with and then let out a bit by stages. Then you could have avoided any unpicking later. If you did this, I think it would be best to add just 2-3" of button hole elastic at each end, attached to stronger elastic in the middle. My button hole elastic was much more stretchy than the same width of solid elastic would have been.

Finally the legs. I deliberately left these much too long, since a main objective was to have the legs long enough to well cover the baby’s feet even when the trouser part rode up a bit in the baby carrier. For her to stand in them, they needed to be rolled up a good 5 inches in February.  The plan was that they should be plenty long enough as regular ankle length salopettes next year, when she will be running around. If you do make legs too long like this, to keep baby’s feet warm, you could bend up the trousers right over the feet to one side, and button them to a seam with an elastic loop or looped button hole. Then they can be unbuttoned the following year. You can also have two buttons at different heights to allow for more gradual growth. We didn't bother with anything so elaborate, but just let them dangle over her feet when she was in the carrier, and rolled them up when she was standing.

Postscript 8 months later

Here are the finished salopettes in use, 8 months on. 

The legs are still a little long, but not too much, and they no longer need rolling up for her to stand in them.  She isn't much larger round the waist, so no need to let the waist out just yet.

However, in spite of my fancy strap arrangement at the top of the bib, the part of her that has grown most is her body length. It is now a tight fit from neck to crutch, as you can perhaps see on the first of the two photos above. So what I will now do, a simple alteration to extend their life, is to make a longer bib. I think if I add another two to three inches, this will mean the trouser part won't be hoiked up so high, and the neck straps will be comfortable rather than tight.

So hopefully she'll get the best part of another winter's wear out of them!

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