Sew in Tune – Rocketman by Pintuck

Hi! I’m Christy, and I blog over at Pintuck. I’ve got two shorties I sew for all the time – Anika, who is 5, and Sam who is 2. I’m just starting to hit my stride and develop a style when it comes to sewing for my little man, so I am very excited to be here today, and so thankful to the lovely Melissa and Stacey for including me!

When I heard about the idea behind the Sew in Tune series, I immediately panicked, and then couldn’t get the theme song for Strawberry Shortcake out of my head. (In case you are confused, that is neither a “song”, nor “boy-themed.” Useless.).

Fortunately I came to my senses quickly and thought of the Elton John classic, Rocketman. Crisis averted! No boys dressed as fruit here! Just pure, outer space, rocket awesomeness.

Sam’s outfit is made up of a couple of parts. I’ll talk about his shirt here, and tomorrow you can pop over to Pintuck to learn how to make his pants and his rocket pack. Sound good? Lets tackle the shirt!
To make this shirt, you need the following:
The link to a PDF of the applique template is here.
I wanted this outfit to be for the fall, so I knew I wanted to add long sleeves to the black t-shirt. I couldn’t get the image of the original Curious George in his spacesuit (from Curious George Gets a Medal) out of my head. I love the gray, smudgy, pencil lines that make up the look of George’s spacesuit, and I wanted to incorporate that.
With that in mind, let’s get started with the sleeves!
1. Cut long sleeves out of the white t-shirt jersey.
You can use a pattern from something else or trace an existing t-shirt. The only trick is to make sure that the width of your t-shirt sleeve matches the finished width of your long sleeve portion.For example, if your t-shirt sleeve is 8″ around, and you plan to use a 1/2″ seam allowance, make sure that your pattern piece is 9″ around at the top of the sleeve (8″ to match the t-shirt, +1/2″ seam allowance on either side).
You can cut the sleeve cap portion of your sleeve off – you won’t need it!
2. Tape the sleeve pieces down, and use a fade away marker to draw straight lines at 1″ intervals.
3. Mix a shade of gray you like out of fabric paint (remember, we’re going for smudgy pencil here!) and thin it with a little water. Then use a small paintbrush to roughly freehand paint the gray lines onto the shirt.
The key here is thinning the paint with some water – you want it to bleed a little bit, and be irregular, and this will help make that happen!
Set those aside to dry, and get to work on the front of the t-shirt.
Click here to get a PDF file of the template I drew to make the applique for the front of the t-shirt. It’s sized roughly for a 2T shirt, but definitely play with it until you have the size you want for your shirt!
I chose to reverse applique the rocket onto the shirt. Here’s how:
1. Trace the rocket shape onto white jersey and draw in the lines you want to paint.
2. Paint the red areas onto the white jersey – don’t worry too much about keeping the outline of the rocket crisp; those will be more defined later by the black edges of the shirt.

3. Use the rocket shape again to trace the image onto the black t-shirt, in the position you want it.

Now, here I used the highly technical method of “sticking pins through the critical points of the rocket on the shirt, and through the same points on the applique piece underneath.”

Basically I wanted to make sure that when I cut away the black fabric, the white fabric would be lined up properly underneath with the red areas in roughly the right places.

I am sure by now you are wondering why on EARTH I didn’t just paint the t-shirt after attaching the plain white fabric. Seems ever so logical! I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be trying to work paint under the black edges of the t-shirt without making a gigantic mess. And this crazy method actually worked pretty well. If you have a better way to do this, by ALL means go for it.

4. However you’ve managed to align the two pieces of fabric, now you need to stitch around the rocket shape on the outside of the shirt.

5. Carefully, leaving a narrow border next to your stitching, cut away JUST the black fabric, leaving your beautifully painted rocket ship showing through!

You might find you need to touch up a few small areas, but overall it should align well and look pretty good.

The rest of the shirt is just a combination of regular applique, some paint, and some embroidery.
For the spaceman, start by using a scrap of white jersey to cut out the space suit. Use the same gray as you mixed for the sleeves to paint matching lines on his suit. Use a black fabric marker (or fabric paint) to colour the V shape on the front.
Then sew him into place. I chose to hand sew him, because I didn’t want to deal with all those teeny areas and a sewing machine – but if you are more patient than me you can totally use your machine to sew him on.
Use fabric paint to paint his head on. When it’s dry, give him some hair, a mouth, and a nose with a fabric marker.
I used embroidery floss and made some french knots to give him eyes – I wanted the shirt to have some different dimensions happening, and it seemed like a good way to do it.
Right now I can hear you thinking “Wow, she’s fancy! French knots!” I will tell you for free that I googled a video to figure out how to do a french knot, and then I totally gave him blue eyes right after deciding to give him brown eyes (so that they would match Sam’s). Oh well. Not awesome.
Moving on! I used a small circle of vinyl, and hand stitched that over his face to make the space helmet. You definitely can use your machine to sew this on, but vinyl can be kind of tricky (it sticks to the presser foot so you need to be sure to use some tracing paper between the vinyl and your machine). Since it was so small I figured I’d just hand sew it.
Next, you need to join your space dude to the rocket ship. If you are a normal, logical person just use some embroidery floss and backstitch whatever looping pattern appeals to you to join the two. If you are me, and far too Type A to just wing it, sketch in the path you want to follow with a disappearing ink marker first.
Don’t forget to panic if your line starts to disappear before you are finished sewing! Ahem.
The only thing standing between the front of your shirt and total awesomeness now is some stars. Here’s what I used:
I used yellow and white to mix a colour I was happy with, and then I added in some of the yellow crystals (don’t be too afraid of the glitter here – the stars are tiny and it will just help them to twinkle a little bit) and, then added some glow in the dark paint, because it’s WAY more fun that way. Start dotting stars onto the shirt. Vary the sizes of your stars and let them be a little irregular.
Looking pretty good, right??
The very last step is to attach your beautifully painted sleeves.
Fold the sleeves in half, trying to line up the stripes as best you can, and sew the arm seam. Finish your seam, and press it flat.
Slip the long sleeve into the short sleeve, aligning the seam of the sleeve with the seam of the t-shirt, and lay the whole thing on top of a shirt that fits your child to get the sleeve length right.
Pin it in place, and top stitch right over the existing top stitching on the t-shirt hem to sew it in place.
Want a sneak peek at the pants?
Boys pants are pretty basic – the way to make them fun and interesting is to focus on details. For these pants, I used a lighter weight suit fabric, and made cargo pockets that I put low on the legs.
Any decent space explorer needs some good pockets to store treasures he finds on the moon….so I made Sam’s pants with big cargo pockets and labeled them “moon rocks” and “cheese.” You know, stuff you are likely to find in space. Obviously.

Come by Pintuck, and I will show you how to make pants with cargo pockets like these.

To finish the outfit off, I decided Sam needed a rocket pack.

Totally fun, totally easy, and bonus points if you manage to make it without spray painting your hand silver. (I looked like the tin man for a few hours. Pretty!).
I’ll share this with you on Pintuck as well – come take a look!!
Thanks again for having me!
Thanks Christy! Don’t forget to enter the Blank Slate Basics Giveaway – you only have 5 chances left to enter before August 16th. 

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  1. Estelle says

    What a creative mom you are, Christy! Looks like your rocket man just loves his outfit and gear.
    stellie at telkomsa dot net

  2. RaeAnna says

  3. says

    I really love this Eton John’s album! Great idea with those bottles… I don’t drink soda but be sure that if my kid ask me to make this costume for him, I’ll remember this 😉

  4. Suzanne Winter says

  5. memmens says

    How superb is this? I think if I make one for my boy at least one of his sisters will be asking for one!

  6. sdevisser says

    Christy — I particularly love the pants in the lightweight suiting! Great choice!! sarahrbeattie(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. Joelle says

    So cute … even my daughter would love this, as she insists she is going to be an astronaut!
    joellemarie72 at yahoo dot com

  8. Kristie says

  9. Iemke says

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