Yes: fighter pilot baby leggings. And some nautical themed ones too as I wanted to try two different methods! This project was a lot of fun and combined my desire to 1) make some more leggings for Joe in different ways 2) work on something inspired by a great visit to the Museum of Flight here in Seattle and 3) do some more stencilling. The fighter pilot result was these leggings!
We went to the Museum of Flight recently and I must say it was wonderful. A plane museum has not ever been something that would make me jump up and shout “Ooh ooh ooh. Let’s GO!”, but more fool me, as it was superbly interesting. To cut a long story short, I took some pictures of a range of WW1 and WWII aircraft which I thought were colourful, beautiful and actually quite inspiring. I’m going to write a little about the background to this stenciled print, so if you want to go straight to the baby-picture-in-leggings part, you can skip the next section, but I think (hope) you might find this interesting too:
This is a Nieuport 28C.1 – it was rejected by the French in WWI as being “not good enough” and was subsequently picked up by the Americans, who were desperate for planes. I love the black and white nose and the donkey/ass, as well as the overall colour scheme.
This plane is an American Thunderbolt from WWII. I like it, but decided”Big Stud” probably wasn’t appropriate for a 10 month old’s leggings, haha.
This WWII plane is the Curtiss P40N Warhawk – and don’t you just love that aggressive mouth? It reminds me a little of the illustration style you sometimes see in early black and white cartoons, but must have been quite terrifying to meet in the sky.
Finally, this one is a French plane and this is the insignia I decided to recreate. The plane was flown by a certain Paul Albert Pierre Tarascon, first Lieutenant, later Colonel. He was a World War 1 flying ace who was known as “The Ace with the Wooden Leg”. Not the catchiest moniker in the world, but quite amazing, as Mnsr. Tarascon became an ace despite the loss of one foot, which was amputated after an accident when he was learning to fly. After surviving the first world war, he went on to become part of the French resistance in WWII and lived to the ripe old age of 94. It’s a remarkable story, like so many at this museum, and Tarascon’s personal insignia, the fighting cockerel, was the perfect subject to use for my print. A pair of baby leggings isn’t much of a tribute, but I hope he would approve.
Now, onto the printing itself. First, I blew the photo up and then traced around the cockerel. I simplified it quite a bit as it is actually quite a complex bird and probably too much for my cutting skills to handle. I then started to cut the shape out of freezer paper with my little craft knife…
to end up with this…
Than I made the leggings. I decided to try the “trace round a pair you already have” approach, adding on seam allowance afterwards. I made these out of a reasonably thick navy knit and was trying to make them more like little trousers, unlike the proper leggings below, so I left the bottom part of the legs ungathered. The original leggings have quite a thick piece of elastic around the bottom, which I’ve made flat, as you can (maybe) see on the pattern below.
Then I simply finished the hem and sewed the crotch parts and inside seams together. I used zigzag stitch and a lowered tension (ballpoint needle) and it seemed to sew up just fine. For the waistband I made the channel first and threaded the elastic through. In the second pair (below), I followed some instructions to sew the elastic directly onto the waistband as you make the channel. I MUCH preferred the first method. Maybe it’s my crappy sewing, but I didn’t get the elastic apportioning right in the sewn-on pair and ended up with an uneven waistband. The threading is a bit annoying, but I much prefer the result.
Finally, I used fabric paint to put on the cockerel. I have to say it wasn’t as crisp and clear as my last attempt, but it was quite woolly fabric, which slightly affected the quality. I also decided to do the print later in the construction process as it was wrapping around the side and I wanted to make sure the placement was correct. Plus, there’s no outside seam on these leggings, so no problem there with lumps and bumps distorting the picture. These leggings turned out quite big for Joe, but he should be able to wear them in a month or two.
And now a few pictures from the other pair I made, which I actually did first. There’s not so much to say about these – I had this cute little nautical knit and I wanted to use the same pattern from the Baby Hudson pants I made before, but try my hand at enlarging it for my now-bigger boy.
I really just added a little on the top and bottom of the free Baby To Go leggings pattern (my very first adjustments!) and then made the leggings up as above. With this pair I sewed the elastic straight onto the waistband as per the instructions as discussed before. Not my biggest success really. But the leggings turned out fine all the same.
I know baby leggings aren’t the most complicated things in the world to make, but they were definitely a good project to a) practice a bit of minor adjusting on b) draft a pattern from existing clothes and c) try a bit of stencilling on. In all three cases it’s no massive loss of time or fabric if it goes wrong and I learnt a lot. That was fun!
Alright then – that’s enough plane chat for one day. Cheerio for now!