Tyo’s Pikachu onesie is finished.
So, this thing was a lot of work. Probably more than I was expecting. It was the face that put it over the top. And the zip-off feet. I don’t have a lot of spare brain-power these days, figuring those out (or, as the cae may be, not figuring them out) took a lot out of me.
It’s kinda hard to know where to start. Did it begin a week and a half before Christmas, when Tyo hit upon the idea of a Pikachu onesie for herself, and promptly found five eBay sites all ready to sell her one that she wouldn’t shut up about? Did it begin when someone gave her a yellow Pokemon stuffie for her third birthday?* Did it begin when she was a baby and I decided for a year or so that footie pyjamas were my favourite thing? (I had a couple different pairs, storebought, so apparently I wasn’t the only person who thought that in the early aughties. The problem turned out to be that the legs were always too short and so they tended to make my toes go numb. Poo.)
Anyway, let’s just say that it was an idea whose time had come. So I’ve basically heard nothing for the last three weeks but PIKACHUCHUCHU. I had to scrap my previous onesie plans (PANDA FABRIC!) and buy a whack of yellow fleece.
Fortunately (?), I had ordered Jalie 3244 in the nick of time. It arrived literally the day before Christmas Eve. GO JALIE, and hooray for in-Canada shipping! So the kids got boxes of fabric each and a wrapped pattern for the both of them. I know, not the best “Christmas sewing”, but what I could manage this time-starved year.
Now, the Jalie pattern is (I think) a good starting place. It has footed and foot-free options, and, of course, every size in the book. Plus different-coloured lines! Which makes the tracing just a little bit easier. Although, there is some piecing to be done during the tracing. The front and back piece are actually the same piece, except for the top neckline portion that you have to trace on to each piece. This mean the front and back crotch-curves are identical, but I’m somehow thinking this is not a huge deal for a glorified sleep-sack.
I was rather bemused to realize that Tyo is officially a size R. That’s the size I use to make my jeans, people. Which makes sense considering she’s been stealing my jeans since last summer, but anyway. (I should note I’m not really a size R, more S or even T** on the bottom half, but I like my jeans closer-fitting than Jalie 2908) Although, having put the onesie on her, I wish I’d gone a size up, and lengthened a bit. This is not a voluminous onesie. And Jalie patterns do not, as a rule, run large.
In any case, we traced off the pattern and got started. By which I mean, I traced off the pattern and Tyo bounced around excitedly, and then got bored and went off to facetime*** her friends.
And then things slowed right down.
Largely, it’s because it’s a project I needed to think about. While Jalie 3244 may be a great onesie pattern, it doesn’t have a hood, and a Pikachu onesie would hardly be Pikachu without a hood to put the face and ears on. I took some measurements and drafted a rough hood pattern. Jalie 3244 has feet, but not with a zip-off closure. So I had to think about (and procure zippers for) that.
The stripes and tail
The first (easiest?) problem I tackled were the stripes and the tail.
I was really at a loss about the tail—looking at a stuffie doesn’t give you much idea of size. How long should it be? How sharp and big should those zig-zags be? How far our should the brown base extend? In the end, I’m pretty happy with my first attempt, which is good, because I didn’t have enough extra fleece to do a bunch of test versions. Once we figured out where the tail should attach on her butt, (and I added some extra stitching and elastic to support the seam in that area) the next problem was the stripes. Tyo wanted the stripes to extend around onto her sides. This caused me to alter the construction order; I sewed the back pieces together and then the front pieces to each side, so I had one big onesie-piece to applique the stripes onto. There was just barely enough space to fit the two stripes between the tail and the bottom of the armscye.
First, I drafted a hood. I started by carefully measuring the neckline of all the pattern pieces, and then measuring roughly how humongous Tyo wanted it to be in terms of height and depth. The resulting pattern piece looked pretty ridiculous, and was really long. So I wound up cutting about four inches off the bottom of it. Which totally messed up my careful neckline calculations, by the way. Fortunately, fleece is exceptionally forgiving.
I spent quite some time looking at pictures of Pikachu’s tail and back-stripes, and even more time looking at pictures of the face. I’m not a Pokemon afficionado, so I needed to do some research to get the details right. Tyo assured me that the red cheeks on her stuffed Pikachu are actually far too small, so I should make them bigger; as it turns out, I made them the same size as the eyes. I discovered (very carefully!) that you can use steam-a-seam on fleece. Very carefully! I experimented with applique stitches and scoured my scraps for the right fabrics. I spent a LONG time laying out that face. And I made ears. Deciding how big to do the ears was nerve-wracking (Based on most of the online examples, mine are a bit big. I think they’re cute that way, though.) Laying out the face was worse; Pikachu has a very high bar of cute to attain, and I was terrified of falling short. I would not want to produce some lame, un-cute Pikachu knock-off. We aim for only the best knock-offs here at Tanit-Isis Sews.😉
Pikachu’s face, as it turns out, is a bit too big for the hood. Or something. It looks good from the front, but there wasn’t much space across the back to put the ears in. The result, I think, looks a bit microcephalic, but it will have to do.
Tyo’s other request that took some thought was for zip-off feet. I was secretly hoping she would opt for the footless version, but really, is it a real onesie without feet? Or is it just a baggy jumpsuit? But she wanted to wear it to school, and out and about, so zip-off feet were a necessity.****
I looked at a pair of my husband’s pants, which zip off just below the knee, for inspiration, but there was still a bit of learning at the school of hard knocks, which is always my favourite kind:
1) Put the zippers in in the round. It’s tempting to try to do them in the flat, as that’s easier but it works much better for the final flap-over if they’re done in the round.
2) allow more overlap than you think you need. Fleece puffs up and doesn’t cover as much as you wish it would.
3)attach band (I added a band above the ankle-seam as part of the foot unit; in the Jalie pattern the foot unit stitches directly to the bottom of the leg-piece) to foot-piece AFTER sewing the zippers in. This would’ve made the Tragedy of the Backwards Foot much easier to prevent.
Wait, did I mention the backwards foot? Yes, despite all my attempts at spacial reasoning and careful paying of attention, when I went to zip the feet on, this is what happened. If you look up at the picture above, you’ll note that there is an extra seam between zipper and foot. Slash, reverse, re-stitch. Much better than trying to unpick fleece. We’ll call it a design feature. I really don’t have it in me to do a full tutorial on adding a zipper to pants (or footies, as the case may be), although Google seems to be well-supplied with them. Anyone reading have a tutorial they like
Did I mention this was a lot of work? More than I really thought it was going to be. I don’t think I was thinking about the face.
I’m glad the ears are big and the tail long.
It is very warm and cozy. Also slightly grubby because it took me a while to pin her down for pictures, and the onesie has been worn to school once and around the house more or less constantly. Tyo’s teacher thought the onesie was pretty cool, but then he has a Tardis onesie.
I do kinda wish the whole thing was baggier, but that would’ve taken even more fleece. I used up a whole three metres on this project as it is, just of the yellow fleece.
She does not like taking it off.
There are a lot more things I could say, about binding zippers and seams finishes and changing the pockets, but at this point, I think I just need to hit publish. This is already well into too-long-didn’t-read territory. And, I’m tired. I think I want to go make fleece socks.
*I actually have absolutely no recollection of how the Pikachu stuffy came into our lives. I certainly didn’t buy it, so it must’ve been a gift. Tyo never particularly played the card game, nor am I aware of her watching it on TV. (Is there a Pokemon TV show? I sorta assume there is but I’ve never seen it.) And yet, Pikachu.
***My children don’t phone their friends. Like, ever. But they do facetime, Skype, and text. Constantly.
****to those bemoaning the sad state of the world, that kids are wearing giant baby clothes everywhere, I can only say, at least it’s a warm trend. As a Canadian, I’ll take those whenever I can get them.