Rib Cage Love

Dianah's rib cage sweatshirt

Way back in January, I guess it was, according to Dianah, she herself told me about this great sweatshirt she had seen in a local shop here in Seattle.  She wanted it SO BAD but couldn't afford the over $100 price tag.  Of course we LOVE to support our local hand-makers but there just wasn't room in her budget for a new $100 plus sweatshirt. 

enlarged stencil found on Internet

So she is telling me about it, on and on, I love it, I love it, I love it, and I am just thinking, the whole time, I will just make you one for your birthday.  How hard could it be?  I did finally, a few months later, make my way to see THE actual sweatshirt and low and behold, I KNEW I could duplicate it, make something very similar, but with my little touches and have it be close enough that it would still be the sweatshirt Di had been coveting.  Also, it wouldn't cost me nearly $100 to make!

stencil cut out and layed out

So as Dianah's birthday was approaching I was making my way toward the final design and implementation of said design onto a great, almost new, but totally second hand, thrifted black zip-up hoody sweatshirt.  The sweatshirt was the only one little tricky piece to this operation.  I knew if I looked long and hard enough I could find a great one used and not have to buy a brand new one.  It was just a matter of staying on the hunt!  The sweatshirt was located at one of the many fantastic thrift stores in Tucson, Arizona!  When we were there in April I still hadn't found the ideal zip hoody but since I was thrifting my toosh off every day I finally scored the perfect one!

some wool felt pieces cut out and layed out

  In the photos you will see some the steps it took me to get to the final stage: Di loving it and wearing it every. single. day.  Once I had it finished and could see for myself how well it turned out, I just could not wait to give it to her.  It was killing me to not talk about it to her and just give it to her as soon as I was done.  When she did finally open her gift I was jumping up and down like a child and clapping my hands!  What a goof ball!  But it was perfect because we were having a fire in our "tiny" backyard pit and she was cold and needed a hoody to be warm so I tore into the house, grabbed the gift bag, and shoved it in her hands.  "Open, open, open," I demanded!  She was thrilled!  Smiles all around!

pinning in progress

So besides locating the sweatshirt, I had a few other items to attend to.  I had to find a stencil to suit me.  Also, I knew I was adding the little hear under the ribs because that was big part of what Di liked about the original hoody, but thankfully I know how to make hearts so that was an easy step!  The search online for rib cage stencils didn't take long and I was able to enlarge it on my printer/scanner to get the size I wanted.  I only needed to cut out one side of the cage to make the entire thing because each side was the exact same.  Go figure!  The sternum part was a big guessing game because I could not remember if the "original" had one but after much debate between Chad and I, we both decided it looked cool, splitting the one in the stencil, down the middle, and having the zipper go up through the middle of it. 

close up of pinning. 

I didn't have any white wool felt on hand so I got that at Ben Franklin.  I got the red there too but a few months back when I was working on Iorek's birthday sweatshirt.  Iorek is Dianah's son and Jasper's real good friend.  I will do a post of his sweatshirt soon!  Anyhow, besides the felt I just needed a million tons of pins!  Some of you know that when I sew, I usually don't use pins at all, or very little.  But for a project like this, you will lose your mind if you try to go pinless!  I knew for best results I would need to pin the heck out of it, get lots of pokes, and I would end up with the perfect finished product! 

the entire thing PINNED!

So then it was time to sew!  I just picked a place and started!  What else can you do?!  I just made sure my sewing machine was loaded with good white thread and began.  As I got one rib done, I would take the pins out and cut the loose threads so I could begin to see what it would look like.  I got into a rhythm and just blissed out on it.  Zen sewing, if you will.  It is thrilling to have a project come together so easily and be able to see your progress so quickly.  It empowers you.  I felt like Super Sewer Girl Super Hero with no seam ripping being my Super Power!

almost finished!  label applied.  heart hand sewing left to do.

I did finish with inserting one of my own home made labels.  And I knew I was going to finish the heart by hand sewing the edges, in between the ribs.  Once that was all done, it was ready to go.  I was so excited by how it turned out!  Very pleased!

close up of hand stitching on heart.

You can see the machine stitching on the ribs in the picture above.  Some places I got too close to the edge and didn't want to chance it not being well attached so I just went back over those spots and restitched inside, more on the rib.  I did not seam rip the original stitching, in those cases, I just left them double stitched and I really like how it gives it more character and makes it look really handmade. 
And oh,  I always use wool felt too, never acrylic.  Not only is the wool natural fiber and much preferred, it will also begin to bind to the sweatshirt each time it is washed.  Oh the wonder of wool!

Dianah in her sweatshirt!!!

Make a gift, give it with love, and be happy!

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