Baby Crafting: the Final Frontier. This is the tale of the crafter Leigh. Her two-month mission: to explore strange new techniques, to create something for new life in her civilization, to boldly go where some people have already gone before. *Cue Star Trek music of your choice*
No matter your flavor (Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise) chances are you either like (or are aware of) Star Trek. My love of Star Trek came later in life thanks to Netflix and Jojo, but my friend Elizabeth has been a hard-core fan since way back. When she announced she was having a baby, I knew I wanted to do something special to celebrate such a joyous occasion. Buying presents is totally acceptable, obviously… but, if I can, I always like to make something homemade. It may not come out perfect, but I think the amount of love you put into something outshines any technical flaws. Plus, your gift will be one of a kind.
Since Elizabeth has a love of most things sci-fi, I knew I wanted to do something to incorporate that fact. And although a Battlestar Gallactica Starbuck tank-top onesie would have been super cool, I thought a Star Trek uniform would take it to the next level. I’m not an idiot. I know baby clothes only fit for like 2.2 seconds before they are outgrown… and every time I sew something for a child, I swear I will never do it again… but I couldn’t resist giving this project a shot.
Some of you who are only aware of the original Star Trek series will equate a red uniform with an early demise of an ensign. On the later incarnations of the show, however, maroon/deep red was a color worn primarily by the commanding officers. After seeing all the generic Star Trek onesies for sale commercially, I scoured the internet for a sewing pattern for a newborn and found a free one at the awesome site: www.startrekbaby.com (which, sadly, has recently been taken down!) It was perfect. It had the right angular lines I was looking for and enough detailed descriptors to make it seem doable- especially for someone who has never sewn baby clothes before.
When I was making the onesie back in March, I was counting on the website being up so I could just point all readers of this blog to the site for construction specifics and detailed instructions. So, sadly, I have very few pictures of the actual construction of the garment. I knew I wanted to use basic jersey cotton (something soft and gentle) and my hoarding tendency of fabric totally came in handy with this project as it was constructed out of two t-shirts that I had gotten for free earlier (one was a tech t-shirt Jojo had never worn, the other a tee I had purchased on sale at Old Navy YEARS ago and had never worn). Again, I wish I could point you to the original website because it was brilliant. Not only did it have a pattern constructed but it had step-by-step picture tutorials. Something that WAS funny about it was that the original author of the pattern had used a C.A.D. printer to print out the PDF of her pattern. When I printed out her pattern, however, it scaled down to fit MY standard printer. It wasn’t until I was 3/4 of the way done sewing that it became evident that what I was working on was WAY too tiny for anything living. And that is why I have still have a smaller scaled-down, 3/4 finished version of a onesie. It actually wound up being a boon as it gave me a chance to hone some skills that I hadn’t worked on before. The thing about children’s clothes vs. adult sewing is that everything is in miniature. Which seems really obvious except the reality doesn’t hit you until you are knee-deep in bias tape squeezing in every stitch. Here is a picture of the original pattern pieces being placed and cut from a regular XL t-shirt:
Super tiny, right? Thankfully, when I discovered that my first iteration wasn’t going to work, I had plenty of fabric left to cut a larger version- the ONLY benefit of working in miniature. After a three week hiatus (where I pouted about all the wasted time and work I had put into it) I restarted the project again. I, manually, scaled up all the pattern pieces (as my scanner isn’t sophisticated enough to do it…) and started again; this time wiser and more weary. It all came together and although I had specific notes about working with the pattern (some arm and collar jankiness) it all seems rather moot now that the original site is gone. *sad Riker’s trombone*
What I will say is that all the versions of the collar pips and the combadge that I’ve seen on similar projects (both handmade or mass produced) have been either ridonkulously expensive to purchase, or super-lame. I was determined to circumvent BOTH of those factors. Online and convention retailers sell premium sets of pips anywhere from $18.00-$50.00. Same goes for the Star Fleet insignia if you are going for maximum authenticity. Although the fabric hadn’t been a budget breaker, the small detail work certainly could have been. In the original project on www.startrekbaby.com they bought the schmancy pips and then purchased a super lame button for the combadge… which seemed silly after all the effort it took to draft the pattern in the first place. As is often the case, I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Craft and searched for alternatives.
I scoured all the sections and wound up in the button area. I found teeny-tiny, gold, rounded, baby buttons that I thought would be an adequate stand-in for the Star Trek rank insignia pips. After much debate, I went with four pips indicating Captain’s rank in The Next Generation figuring a baby would be at his most Picard-ian right after birth. The combadge, however, took some more debate and research as it, like the uniform, has also gone through many incarnations throughout the run of the show. I went with an earlier TNG style, that I found visually pleasing and I thought I could replicate with the most authenticity.
I figured I could use Premo! Sculpey clay (also found at Jo-Ann’s) in metallic gold and silver, sculpt it out and then bake it when I was satisfied with the results. Laying down a layer of wax paper, I rolled out the gold clay into a uniform sheet with a non-stick glass/rolling-pin substitute. Since I don’t do a lot of mold work or have various cutters on deck, necessity was the mother of invention and I used the cap to my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer as a perfect ovular mold for the gold field. I was quite pleased with the above results and moved onto the silver insignia portion of the combadge. Since it has a distinct shape, and none of my other make-up caps would do, I printed out the version of the combadge that I wanted to replicate, scaled it to the right size and cut it out.
I placed the template onto a sheet of rolled out silver clay and cut it out using a rounded-edge knife that came with my cheap set of kitchen knives. I don’t know what the actual purpose of this knife is, but the rounded edges made edges less jagged; an Exacto Knife would also be sufficient. If you do this project, do a few test runs what the most natural cutting method is for you, but I found that using longer strokes (starting and ending after the pattern) made for cleaner results. I also found that turning it upside down made a difference.
Once you get your insignias cut out, you are left with a nubbin in the center of the “V” that is impossible to prevent without messing up your project, so I used a toothpick to clean up the edges, nudge any detail work, and to fix any other deviations in your insignia.
Once that was completed, I centered the insignia on the gold oval and followed the baking/finishing directions for the Premo Sculpey Clay.
Once finished, I hot-glued two combadges onto bar-pins for Elizabeth and Bryan but hot-glued another one onto one side of a baby snap. I hand-stitched the other side of the snap to the appropriate spot on the uniform so that the insignia could be removed from the uniform when it needed to be washed.
I hand-washed the finished product, wrapped and packed up two extra combadges for mom and dad and mailed off the completed project. Elizabeth was sweet enough to send me the following picture once she received it via the USPS:
I have been looking forward to doing this post for months but was waiting for the final component of the project to share it with you guys… Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the beautiful, perfect Champ Bowden.
Look at that guy! If he doesn’t make admiralty by three then Q must be to blame. Engage, y’all!
**Hey! This tutorial has been featured! Check it out over at http://geekcrafts.com/14485-live-long-and-prosper-baby/**