Sunday, March 4, 2018

Two tops and two skirts.

Hello! My stash busting and blog catching up continues. I wanted some nice knit tops for chilly days that were work appropriate (business casual) and I have been meaning to try out the Grainline Lark Tee Expansion - this expansion pack includes a dress view and a two different neckline options, a regular turtleneck and a "cowl" neck. I was hoping for something like the Renfrew Cowl neck but without having to purchase another t-shirt pattern when the Lark fits me so well.

You may have noticed that this shirt doesn't actually fit me that well .... Well, both the regular turtleneck and the cowl neck use the crew neck Lark, which I haven't ever made before, so I went ahead and cut that out. Problem being, I forgot my size and cut it out in a size 12 instead of a size 10 like my former Larks - size 12 is definitely a bit large, although still wearable.

Background information: I have a dread of fabric touching the hollow of my neck. I hate it. I like a nice cowl that falls away from the neck, or a loosely wrapped scarf or collar, but no tight turtlenecks for me! Welp, the expansion cowl is very, very tall. Very tall!

When pushed down, it is also very heavy, and quite tight. This is the face of a woman being strangled by her own collar.

Okay, now some people might really love this neckline! I could see it being very warm and cozy in a cold climate and, obviously, not everyone has my weird neck issues. But it wasn't going to work for me!

I cut the cowl off, shortened it by half, and sewed it back on. Ah. Now my neck can breathe! A much better garment for my climate, too.

This change made this top wearable, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite make. It's a bit too large, and the neckline, while better than before, wasn't the cowl neckline of my dreams.

Sidebar: This is a Mabel Skirt I made last year in mustard ponte, which I am only now blogging but wear all the time. I lengthened the skirt to a midi-length and used the plain front version of the pattern. I added wide elastic at the waist, too. This is one of my most sewn patterns, I believe this is my fifth skirt and I would love a few more! I've really personalized this pattern and I love this version.

 I retained my favorite part of the pattern, which is the lovely kick pleat. It's an easy feature to add, and it definitely adds some polish to this basic knit skirt.

Back to my quest for the perfect cowl ... after conferring with Masha, who has sewn the Refrew many times, I decided to try altering the Lark cowl to more closely resemble the Renfrew. I used the scoop neck version of the t-shirt (in size 10) for a much lower neck, and made a much wider, somewhat shorter cowl than the Lark expansion piece. In looking at these pictures, I actually think I could have made the cowl taller and fuller without it becoming claustrophobic at all. I think a larger cowl would balance out my large bust really nicely too. Well, it's a continuing journey! 

Unfortunately, I initially put the sleeves on backwards, and had to redo them! They still look a bit messed up to me, but I have been wearing this top a ton so it's obviously not worrying me too much.

The fabric for both these tops came from the sales that Britex had before its move to a new space. This olive green rayon lycra is really knit perfection - so buttery soft and drapey.

And yes, I made this skirt as well! More precisely, I refashioned it. I found a Gap minidress at the thrift store, and was immediately drawn to the firm, stable fabric! The dress fit me in theory but it was unflattering with a high neck (again!) and mini length. I simply chopped it off below the bust, folded the top down, and added wide elastic to make it a skirt. I didn't change the angle of the skirt, so it's slightly a-line and hits just above my knees now. I have been wearing this skirt to work (on more casual days) frequently, it's comfortable and goes with all my solid colored tops.

All of these fabrics came from the stash (and one came from the pile of "mend or refashion" items).In the month of February, I sewed up about 6.5 yards from the stash, which was pretty good! Unfortunately, I also went to Stonemountain and fell off the wagon pretty hard, buying 9 yards (in my defense, some of that was on sale?). Oof! But I'm still ahead for the year and I'm still trying to make a dent in my stash this year!

I have a few more pieces of fabric that would make great cowl tops if I want to continue on my journey of drafting the perfect cowl for the Lark tee. But at some point, I might switch to spring tops instead, we'll see! (Of course, our Bay Area summers are colder than our winters a lot of the time, so there's that to consider too!)

Are you still sewing for cool weather? Or have you moved on to hot weather sewing? (Realizing my Southern Hemisphere friends are considering the reverse!)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Loungewear for me.

 Hi everyone! Ugh, how much do I hate posing for photos? AWKWARD, right? But I'm sucking it up for the sake of y'all and posterity.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to sew down my stash. And a lot of my stash was bought to sew things for myself, so sewing down my stash is going to require me to do quite a lot of selfish sewing! The timing for this is good, since Me Made May is coming up and I have had to donate or throw out some very worn out me-mades. It's good to think I've been sewing for myself long enough that some items no longer fit my style, fit well, or have been worn to shreads! It's hard to let my sewn items go, but I'm telling myself it's a good thing overall!

One giant gap in my wardrobe was comfortable pajamas/loungewear/workout wear. And one giant pile in my stash is flannel and random knits. So I whipped up a sweatshirt and a pajama pants, both from Butterick patterns.

Let's start with the sweatshirt, I picked up Butterick BP305 on discount the last time I went to JoAnn's. I liked the interesting cut of the sweatshirt/sweater dress, and the pants looked intriguing as well.
I don't know why this says B6388 on the corner? Mine says BP305.

For my first take on this pattern, I used some second-hand cream french terry I picked up very cheap at the Depot and have tons of. It's nice and stable, with a good amount of stretch, but doesn't hang super well - I consider this a wearable muslin. Although I love that dress, I wanted house/weekend/exercise wear so I went with the sweatshirt.

The cut of this sweatshirt is very fun, with a cute triangular side panel, very dropped shoulders, a shawl collar, and a cute u-shaped inset in the back.

Based on my measurements and the finished measurements, I went with a size medium, but there is plenty of ease. If I make this again in a nondrapey fabric, I might size down to size small.

I read about this pattern on Pattern Review and based on some reviews that noted that the collar can be too soft without interfacing, I added some lightweight knit interfacing to the collar pieces. The result was a collar that is a smidge too stiff for my tastes! It stands up a bit more than I think it's supposed to. Next time I will interface only half the piece, up to the fold line, at most. Interfacing can probably be skipped entirely for more stable knits.

Whether it's the color, the size, or the shape, I'm not sure this is the most flattering garment on a top-heavy figure like mine, but it's super cozy and nice to wear. I am hopeful that it would be a little more flattering in a drapier knit. In the meantime, it's perfect for tooling around in the garden or walking around Lake Merritt. I would absolutely try this pattern again, and in fact I have my eye out for the perfect fabric (but I haven't bought any yet - yay me!).

Next up, flannel pajama pants! These are the Lisette B6296 pajamas, which I've been meaning to make since the pattern came out. I generally sleep in t-shirts and pj pants, so I wasn't particularly interested in making a whole ensemble and stuck with the pants. 

If I recall correctly, I made a size 10, grading out to a 12 at the waist. I needn't have graded, however. These have PLENTY of ease. I am debating whether I would go down a size if I made them again or at least slim out the legs, which are quite wide in my opinion.

The pants have a cute little back yoke for shape, a separate waistband, and really generous pockets. They reach to mid-thigh! The extraordinary depth might be because of another issue, though. This pattern is insanely long. The finished side length (as disclosed on the pattern) is 42 inches. I am 5'4" and have a normal length torso but shorter legs. I used the lengthen/shorten line to shorten the pants about six inches! Don't forget about the cuffs as you're factoring in your length, btw. 

This flannel is a really nice quilter's flannel that I picked up years ago and have forgotten the provenance of. I want to say it's similar to a Denise Schmidt print? But I couldn't find it online. It's nice and heavy and easy to work with, and it  has held up well to repeated washes.

I added some dark green piping to the pockets and the cuffs just to add a little bit of definition and because I love me some piping! With the piping on the cuffs, I had to change up the sewing instructions a little bit. The instructions have you sew the cuff to the bottom of the pants and finish the seam allowances, so there's a raw seam inside. I sewed the piping side on first and then folded down the seam allowance on the inside and stitched in the ditch, for a cleaner finish.

All in all, these may not be the most exciting things I've ever sewn, but they have seen a lot of wear, especially as my Victorian house gets quite chilly in the winter and we have to layer up! And although I don't sew all that often with Big 4 patterns, these were both easy and fun sews with interesting design lines - a good reminder that Big 4 patterns are a tremendous resource for the intermediate sewist. But, I do need to remember to size down, because they are notoriously big (on ease). 

Do you sew your own lounge wear? What patterns do you recommend/what are your TNTs?

I am still catching up so I have lots more projects coming to the blog soon!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

More PJs/nighties!

Oh hi! *Sheepish wave.* It's already halfway through February, and this is my first post of the year! Oops. Just trust me when I say that January kicked my family's collective booty, and February hasn't been much better. So. Much. Sickness. So much. We've just been rotating illnesses over here.

Anyway, here we are! And I have some catch-up to do!

So although I was completely derailed by various illnesses, I nonetheless started out the new year with a burning desire to make a dent in my swelling, exploding, completely ridiculous  fabric stash. I know I've said this before, but this year I started tracking how many yards I'm taking in versus out in my bullet journal, and so far I have sewn up like 15 yards and bought ZERO fabric! So that's pretty great. Plus I did a deep clean of my sewing area and dropped off three bags of fabrics/notions/patterns at the Depot and sold some vintage patterns on Instagram. Yay me!

As I mentioned in my last post, it now takes quite a lot of fabric to make my kids nightwear, so I felt like I needed to use up some of the flannel pieces I have had stashed for a bit, from back when 1.5 yards (or even one yard!) seemed sufficient to make something for my kids. Aw, they are growing up so fast! (Cue bittersweet moaning.)

So I'm very pleased that I managed to squeeze a pair of PJ pants for Joe and a whole nightie for Maggie out of about 1.5 yards apiece!

First off, Joe's pajama pants. These are the Sleepover Pajamas by Oliver + s, this time in size six with a bit of extra length, with no cuffs, but deep hems and a separate waistband piece. I'm realizing I need to take some of the rise out of these for Joe.

Another motivating factor: Who knows how much longer Joe will be totally wowed and thrilled by RAINBOW CHEVRON fabric? Hopefully forever, but alas, life can be hard.

 I attempted to match the rainbow chevrons, but that ain't easy! It is what it is!

 Sorry the photos aren't that great - January shooting is not fun around here! Joe was such a good sport, trying these on so that I could adjust the rise first, and then the hems. I like how the deep hems mimic the cuffs that the pattern comes with.

Maggie's nightie was another, different vintage pattern, which I made once before, years ago, for my niece. This pattern was passed down to me from my auntie, who made it for her kids back in the day (ah, the late 70s, early 80s, my favorite nostalgic age!). Isn't it sweet?

Not the exact pattern I have. Mine is sizes 3/4.

I had a small piece of printed-on yellow gingham plaid flannel which I picked up second hand from the Depot. With good luck (plus prayers and hope), I managed to squeeze this nightie out of it with only tiny scraps to spare! It turned out a scosh big, but it's nice to think it might last a whole year.

I added some stash lace to the front and back yoke. It turned out insanely twee, which is to say, adorable! #ownyournostalgia

The nightie fastens in the back with two buttons, attached with thread chains. I found these soft yellow buttons that matched perfectly. Every single thing came from my stash!

The long sleeves and elastisized wrists are A-DORBS, amiright? Gah. It's like I've gone back in time 35 years, to the time when me and my friends roamed the neighborhoods in unsupervised gangs and got twee nightgowns for Christmas every year from our auntie who sewed. RIGHT? RIGHT? Y'all remember what I'm talking about, I hope!

Thanks to posting this on Instagram, I am now the happy owner of the larger size range in this pattern (thanks Karen!) so I can extend the nostalgia for several more years! Yay!

My favorite part of this pattern is the offset pocket, which is sewn on the gown at a 45 degree angle. I added a little bit of lace to that too. Hilariously, Maggie finds it quite useful, although it must be one of the most impractical (read: cute as all get out) pockets I've ever sewn.

So cute, right? Well, my kids are pretty set for flannel nightwear, at any rate, and these items used up 3 yards of stash fabric! Fabric that might not have been as useful if I had waited another year! As I get caught up here, hopefully I can share the pajama pants I made myself as well as some other stash sewing.

Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2018? Are you trying to sew down your stash?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holiday Sewing 2017.

Season's greetings, friends! I am popping in to share a few items I sewed for the holidays. As usual, I had ridiculously ambitious plans for Christmas sewing, including gifts for the kids, decor items for my house, and gifts for many friends and loved ones. And as usual, I had to face reality and cut WAY back in the face of a very busy December. Sigh. So it goes!

But I did manage to make a few very special items! First, stockings for my nieces. Full disclosure: I actually pieced these stockings last year! I didn't have time to finish the stockings and my nieces used purchased stockings last year. Rather than finish them up in the new year in the absence of any Christmas spirit, I put them away in my WIP bin and nearly forgot about them. In November, my sister politely asked me if I might make my nieces "very simple, personalized" stockings, and I was like, "Um, I actually started them last year and just need to finish them!"

No problem, right? I already did the hardest part when I pieced tiny postage stamp pieces (1" squares) from a variety of Christmas (and non-Christmas!) prints (mostly Cotton & Steel but there is a good amount of other stuff in there too) and quilted the stocking fronts last year. Well ... somehow these still took most of the season to complete!

I spent the most time designing and embroidering the personalized cuffs. My niece Augustine usually goes by Gus or Gussie, but she told me she wanted her stocking to say "Augustine." Yes, ma'am. But that's a lot of embroidery! And at the end, Helen's more graphic cuff seemed to make Augustine's look weak with an excess of negative space. So I added a little more embroidery and the little felt holly and berries, with a matching garnish on Helen's cuff.

Assembly took longer than expected too, with all the piping I did. I backed them in the softest, most luscious cotton velveteen from Stonemountain. The fine linen I used for the cuffs came from Britex.

All in all, these were a labor of love that took more than a year to officially complete, although I probably spent less than a week of afternoons working on them total, it still felt like a serious effort! I am so pleased with how they turned out, though! So all that work was worth it. I love that they coordinate but don't match, reflecting the individual personalities of my sweet nieces.

After I finished the stockings, I had to face facts: I was not going to be able to make any gifts for my kids for Christmas this year or complete the cathedral windows cushion I was dreaming about. Le sigh! But I could do one more easy project: Christmas pajamas

It is growth spurt city over here, and Joe has grown like three inches this past year. The pajama pants I made for him last year are too tight in the rise and too short, although he still wore them to school recently for pajama day. Joe often wears sweats to sleep in, but with pajama day being a thing at his school, I think he needs a couple pairs of decent dedicated PJ pants. I have a bunch of flannel so maybe I'll whip up a couple more pairs!

Although you know your kid is really growing up when a pair of pajama pants requires every last bit of two yards of 45" wide fabric! Ay yai yai! He's practically a grown up!

Once again, these are the Oliver + s Sleepover Pajama pants. Last year I made him size 6, reduced in length. This year, I made size 7, with all the length in tact and cuffs that can be folded down for extra length if needed later! I put a little bit of white piping on the cuffs for that old fashioned men's pajama look. They are roomy, but if this year is anything like the last, that will be a good thing! It's bittersweet seeing my kid shoot up like this, although on the bright side, he's willing to eat a lot more variety of foods these days! Hunger will do that to you, I guess!

Who is that rude girl? LOL! This was not the easiest photo session, and this was, tongue notwithstanding, one of the better shots I got. Ah well! For Maggie's nightgown, I used vintage Simplicity 9968, the same pattern I used for her last year. Maggie has grown ... a bit ... in the past year, and last year's nightie, which was a size 2 with extra length in the sleeves and hem, is now short on her. So this year, I cut out size 3 and added a bit of extra length. I actually think I could have stuck with the size two and just added a ton of length to it, as this nightie is a bit wide in the neck in my opinion, but it works okay.

So Maggie is so much smaller than her peers, we have been known to worry about her some! She's also a VERY picky eater, which contributes to our anxiety about her size, because it just doesn't seem like she eats very much. Now, both Steve and I were small as children and relatively late bloomers so we figured she was just a chip off the old block, but we still worried sometimes. We shared our concerns with her amazing pediatrician, who noted that she was bright eyed, energetic, intelligent, and clearly thriving, so she didn't think anything could be seriously amiss, but recommended her for some testing. She had her wrist x-rayed - apparently you can judge a child's development by the growth of the bones around their wrist. If a child's wrists are normal for their age but their stature is extremely small, that could signal an issue. But if the wrist bones are undeveloped, the child is probably just a late bloomer, and will continue to grow past the time when their peers stop. I'm sure I'm way oversimplifying this - isn't it fascinating? Anyway, Maggie's wrist indicates that her bones are like those of a three year old, two years behind her chronological age! Weirdly, this is good news and indicates that she will likely continue to grow for at least two years past the average age, and will likely be a late bloomer like her parents (both Steve and I grew into early college years, and despite our small stature as children, turned out pretty average height in the end).

So yeah, size three! This pattern is dead simple, with a lined yoke, gathered long sleeves with elastic, and a gathered  skirt. There is a keyhole neckline in the back, and I used a simple flat white button and made a thread chain for the back closure. I used a bit of red piping at the yoke this year, for a simple look that coordinates with Joe's PJs. This nightie also needs the better part of two yards with those sleeves, so it's a good thing I rounded up when I bought fabric for these! Gone are the days when I could make anything for Maggie with 1.5 yards.

The fabric is, of course, Cotton & Steel brushed twill in "Teddy and the Bears" - Joe's wearing the blue colorway, and Maggie's nightie is pink.  I love Cotton & Steel holiday fabrics! Well, truly, I love all their fabrics, but their take on Christmas is always fresh and interesting. I love that these pajamas read just a little bit Christmas - they are actually quite subtle!

Well, I've now made the kids Christmas pajamas two years in a row. Is it a tradition now? Only time will tell ...

Some smaller things I made (ornaments, a covered journal) can be found on my Instagram feed. And that's a wrap!

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day, friends! We had a wonderful Christmas here, and I have a new macro lens to try out on my camera! I am excited to turn to some selfish sewing in the new year. Did you manage any holiday sewing this year? Do you always bite off more than you can chew when it comes to holiday sewing plans?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Some special things for a special baby.

Okay, full disclosure: I don't usually make baby quilts. In fact, the only babies I've made quilts for until now were blood relatives. And I haven't even made a quilt for Maggie yet! When my friends have new babies, I am more likely to whip up some little baby pants for them. Quilts are a lot of work, and I figure most of my friends have a grandma, auntie, or other friend quilting for them.

But I was inspired to make a quilt for a very special little guy. My friend's (33 year old) husband was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemotherapy earlier this year. She cared for him while pregnant with their first child, and under a lot of stress. He's out of chemo now and doing great, with a pretty encouraging prognosis. But then my friend was diagnosed with preeclampsia and her baby with IUGR, and she had to deliver her baby boy at 30 weeks! Ugh! So he spent weeks in the NICU. He's home now, but still only four and a half pounds, and it has been quite a road!

As a friend, I felt so powerless to help and a little upset with the universe for handing this young family SO MUCH SHIT (excuse my language, but wtf universe?), ya know? I mean, really! But when my friend asked if I could sew Avery's name on a little banner she picked up at Target, I realized, I do have some skills that can be called upon at times like these! YES! I may not be able to cure cancer or prevent premature birth, but ... er ... I can sew!? (Yay me? Well, it's something, I guess.)

So I did more than just sew Avery's name on a banner. But I did that too. By hand, with two layers of felt for each letter.

The kids helped me with every step of these projects. After I cut out the letters and their "shadows," Joe pinned the pieces onto the banner and happily displayed the banner. "Send that photo to Avery's mom!" he said. I didn't, because I wanted the banner to be a surprise, but I told her the story, and she was delighted to be called "Avery's Mom." Some of you may remember when being called someone's "wife" or "mother" was unfamiliar and different - I do. That's where Avery's mom is these days, but I expect she'll get used to it soon enough. 

Each of the letters on the banner, plus the heart and the star, were sewn on by hand, first with a blanket stitch, and then with a running stitch. The end result is very puffy and 3-D, and I'm happy with it. Yeah, I probably could have found an easier way to do this banner, but it was enjoyable work. 

I couldn't just sew the banner, though. I wanted to do more. I had the great honor of helping my friends repaint their (very cool, craftsman) rental house, and I got to see a little bit of their style. I also plumbed my friend for color preferences. She said "orange and turquoise" and it was like I won the lottery! Except, of course, I had to add a lot of mustard yellow, which is conveniently the color of baby poop ...

The back of the quilt is really gorgeous (and conveniently colored) Dear Stella Arctic Foxes cotton flannel, which is super soft and nice to work with. And FOXES.

I made a little label with baby's first and middle name and birthdate. I noticed that my friend felt pretty negatively about her baby's birthdate, because he was so premature. But he shares a birthday with my best friend of nearly 30 years, and I feel that THIS IS A GOOD DAY TO BE BORN. Every birthday is a miracle.

The fabrics in this quilt came mostly from my stash. They are *mostly* Cotton and Steel, but there are solids and other prints mixed in as well. Not being a designer quilting fabric expert, the only one I can name is the Lotta Jansdotter "Ranka" fabric with the vertical "vines" in orange and dark brown, which has been marinating in my stash for years.

When I decided to make a baby quilt, I immediately went to my Facebook sewing friends group, a tight-knit group of friends who met over breastfeeding our babies, believe it or not! I've "known" these ladies for 7+ years now, although I've only met some of them in person. My friend Mahriam, an incredible quilter (blog and insta), helped me choose fabrics for this quilt. Poor thing was TRYING to hang out with her kids and have a normal day, but I kept texting her pics of fabrics! She was such a good sport, though, and really helped me curate fabrics. My friend Kelly helped a bit too. At one point she turned one of my photos into black and white, and I thought something was wrong with my Facebook Messenger. But no, it turned out this was a form of quilting magic, and she was "checking for values." Magic, I tell you!

Then my sensible friends, knowing both my (lack of) quilt skills and my tendency to be overambitious, wisely advised me to go with a nice and simple quilt. Mahriam did a tutorial about a brick pieced shower curtain she made a while back and suggested I go with that. Ultimately, this simple style showcased the prints I chose, and it meant no matching of corners, making for a really easy to piece quilt!

Once again, I engaged child labor in the arranging of fabrics. Actually, the kids arranged the pieces magnificently, with no two bricks of the same fabric touching, and then I got the strips mixed up and could never replicate what they had done, so the final arrangement is not quite as good as what the children came up with.

I know the quilters out there will appreciate this photo! Poor Steve had to hold up my quilt and endured criticisms such as "the top of the quilt is sagging down a bit, please straighten!" and "straighter please!" This is his "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO NOOOOOOOWWWWW" face. #husbandofsewistproblems

I agonized a bit over how I should quilt over the brick piecing. Horizontal lines seemed too boring. Diagonal lines would require a lot of marking. I did some internet searching and found some examples of wavy lines, which I really liked, but I had never quilted with any kind of curved lines before! Well, I decided to try it anyway, and I'm happy to say, it was SO easy and I am really happy with the final results! I just sewed wavy, intersecting lines, across the quilt, without much of a plan, until I was happy with how it looked. There are a few lines that are not as smooth as I would have ideally preferred, and one or two tiny puckers on the back, but nothing that warranted unpicking. Although this quilting, like all quilting, gave me a back and shoulder ache, I was able to quilt the entire thing in an afternoon. I will definitely be revisiting organic wavy line quilting for future quilts!

I dropped off the banner and quilt with the new family last night, and was delighted that the quilt matches the artwork they just ordered for the nursery. And baby, while TINY, is strong and doing well!

I will leave you with some cute photos I took of Maggie on the quilt.

She is just so exuberant! So full of life.

As always, thanks for reading!

- Inder

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Maggie Bunny and Joey the Rainbow Unicorn

Hey y'all! Just stopping in to share my kids' Halloween costumes, which totally derailed my Ottobre sewing of earlier October (still need to sew two t-shirts and a pair of sweats for Joe) but was totally worth it, because, please meet MAGGIE BUNNY AND JOEY THE RAINBOW UNICORN.

Maggie knew she wanted to be a bunny this year pretty early on, but Joe was waffling between a spider, Spiderman, or a unicorn (I know, random). Initially he just floated a couple references to unicorns, so I didn't think unicorn was a serious contender. But then after doing some Google searching (yep, that's right, this kid can search the internet on his own now! bring on the parental controls!), he was dissatisfied with the spider and Spiderman options. It wasn't until quite late in October, when Joe saw the soft "cuddle minky" fabric I got at Britex for Maggie's bunny costume, that he informed me that he HAD to be a white cuddly unicorn! This minky is really ridiculously soft.

On the one hand, I wanted to be like, "Couldn't you have told me this three weeks ago?" On the other hand, he had such implicit faith in my skills! As you all know by now, I am putty in this child's hands.

Okaaaaay. At this point I was thinking that maybe we would do a blue and green mane, for a more "masculine" unicorn (who am I trying to kid?). But I took Joe to Stonemountain (this was a multi-Bay Area indie fabric store project!), and he fell head over heels in love with this rainbow fur. It was LOVE, people. RAINBOW UNICORN LOVE. After it was cut, he galloped around Stonemountain, much to the delight of everyone present.  What can a mama do in the face of such rapture? It was ON.

Once the supplies were chosen, the costumes were pretty simple (albeit time consuming) to make. I made Joe's unicorn hood and Maggie's bunny hood using the "Cozy Winter Hood" pattern in Oliver + S's book, Little Things to Sew. This was my first time sewing this pattern, but I stood on the shoulders of giants. This pattern must be one of the most hacked and embellished indie patterns out there in the interwebs. A Google search of "Cozy Winter Hood animal" brings up hundreds of examples. And it worked a charm for me too!

Both hoods are XL. My kids have big heads, almost as big as mine. Joe's horn is gold lamé, and the ears are lined with gold as well. Lamé has got to be one of the worst fabrics to sew. It frays, it gets snagged on everything. It's a royal pain. Luckily these were small pieces. I used thread to "spiralize" the horn, and tacked the thread down by hand. One of the weaknesses of the final product is the tendency for the threads on the horn to get unspiraled, but after a last minute repair (this hood was worn from the moment it came off the sewing machine), it seems to be holding up now.

The horn was sewn onto the hood by hand, and the ears tucked in the seams. (I had to redo the ears several times - who knew that subtle changes in ear shape can change the look of an animal so much?) After the outside was sewn together, I hand-stitched the "mane" (an unfinished piece of fake fur) to the hood, then sewed the lining to the hood, right sides together, with all of that tucked inside.

I am not even going to pretend to be humble about this hood. It might, seriously, be one of the best things I've ever made! HA! It is definitely one of the most popular and loved things I've ever made. Both of my kids have been wearing it nearly nonstop since I trimmed the last threads. Having seen it, I think everyone kind of wants one! May we all be rainbow unicorns!

I also made Joe's long sleeved shirt and white sweatpants. The pants are a simplified version of the Oliver + S Sleepover Pajama pants, omitting the cuffs and waistband. I just laid out those pieces next to the main leg piece and cut these out! This is a soft, thick, white fleece. The t-shirt is from Ottobre 6/2013 #34, a very simple long sleeved shirt, made from Laguna jersey. It's snug, almost like long underwear, which is nice for layering. I am wondering if I should dye the white duds so that Joe can get some more use out of them, since white doesn't stay white for long! We'll see if I can work up the energy for that after all this sewing.

The tail is another piece of unfinished fur (did you know that you can tear fir across the cross-grain? and it makes hardly any mess and doesn't unravel? I am SO GLAD!) tucked into his pants because he didn't like the idea of a safety pin on his bottom. 

"But ... pins are POKEY." 

No amount of explaining would alleviate his fears, so tuck away!

I whipped up some simple felt "hooves" for his wrists and ankles to complete the costume. Joe did a lot of galloping around! I was a little worried that he might get some negative comments, but all he got was high fives from his classmates and admiring remarks from fellow trick-or-treaters.

Now, Maggie's costume! The soft minky was intended for her costume, and I got the softed sueded pale pink jersey EVER from Britex for the details. I cut additional slits in the Cozy Winter Hood pattern for her ears, so that they would sit perpendicular to the seams. Her hood hack was not as successful as Joe's however. I could not for the life of me get those dang ears to stand up! I interfaced them with very stiff pellon, and even interfaced the top of the hood where they sit, but no go. I thought about wires but it was the weight of the ears that was dragging down, not the stiffness of the ears themselves. So then I tacked the ears back a bit, hoping that would help. But it didn't really. The ears flopped forward half the time Maggie was trick or treating, sigh. Oh well, they are pretty cute! 

Maggie's sweatshirt is made from the soft minky, with a sueded pink belly appliqued on, and Laguna jersey cuffs and waistband. The sweatshirt pattern is Ottobre Kids 6/2015, #15, which I made for Joe earlier this year and has a fun saddle-style shoulder. The leggings, also in Laguna knit, are Ottobre 1/2017 #3, the baggy leggings I've been making Maggie nonstop since last year.

All she needed after that was a tail and some face paint! Maggie was very in-character as a bunny. 

Both kids had a great time trick-or-treating and the costumes were a hit!

It's always such a crazy exercise, making costumes for my kids, knowing they will only wear them, IF they wear them at all, for a few hours. But I love that my kids still think I can make them ANYTHING, and they still appreciate mama-made costumes. Over the years, I've learned a few things about costume making (having suffered a few rejections in the past, ahem). Okay, actually, I've learned one thing: COMFORT. My kids told me that they did not want chin ties on their hoods, so there are no chin ties. Sure, some hoods blew off in the wind here and there, but no big deal. The outfits are made of soft knits. Nothing is too tight or uncomfortable, because my kids are not capable of wearing something even slightly uncomfortable, for 30 minutes, even if there is candy involved. Seriously. These were hard-won realizations! 

Final thoughts: I may never get the minky fluff out of my sewing area. I needed to press my black suit for a meeting this morning, and Steve was like, "why are you standing in your underwear, vacuuming off your ironing board?" I know YOU guys understand! I can't press my black suit in a pile of white fuzz. I am pretty sure I am suffering symptoms of minky inhalation (class action suit pending?). That said, I had a blast making these, and my kids are at peak-Halloween age now, so that made it especially fun! Aaaaaaaand I will be very glad to return to my regular sewing. Thank goodness Halloween only comes once a year! 

Joe: "I wish it was Halloween tomorrow too."
Me: "Um. Nope. NOOOOOPE." *coughs minky dust*

Did you sew for Halloween? How much do you hate minky? Discuss!