Monday, April 27, 2015

KCW Spring 2015, Part 1: Nailed it! :-)

I hope all of you who were participating in Kids' Clothes Week had a fantastically productive week. I have enjoyed seeing all of your great makes on your blogs. I was sewing along with y'all, but I did things a bit differently this time around, and didn't even try to blog any of my makes during the week. With a full time job and a busy schedule, KCW can sometimes feel a bit stressful. This time around, I tried to take things easy - I made just one outfit for each of my kids (I started Joe's last Saturday) and besides some Instagramming (yes, I'm on Instagram finally!), I focused my energy on sewing rather than photographing or writing. I also totally disregarded the theme, even though this season's theme "Wild Things" was really fun. Instead, I focused on items I had the supplies for and had been wanting to sew for a while.

side by side2
Photograph on the left copyright Celina Bailey and used with permission.

First up, a sewing blog knockoff! A couple weeks I posted about my Joe and Maggie Pinterest Boards. While most of the pinning was done by me, I did share the boards with the kiddos as well. Joe especially has strong ideas about what fabrics, colors and styles he likes best (t-shirts and shorts being a given). In looking through the board I put together for him, he took a strong liking to the image above on the left of a blue striped tee with a bright green pocket and black trousers with a narrow pink stripe.

The pin came from a post on Straight Grain from the Belgian Style series a couple years back. Remember that series? I loved (and probably pinned) almost every single outfit from that series. I am a sucker for the colorful and unique Belgian aesthetic and I loved all of the handmade interpretations! Anyway, that particular Belgian Style post was done by Celina Bailey at Petit a Petit + family, one of my (and everyone's) favorite kids' sewing bloggers and definitely an important tastemaker in the online sewing community. So yeah, no wonder we both liked the look so much! I knew I was a total fankid, apparently Joe is too! :-)

"Belgian Style" knock off

First up, the shirt. This is almost exactly like Celina's shirt, with the only difference being that my shirt has black stripes whereas hers had blue. Joe would have preferred blue stripes, but I wanted to work with materials I have, and I had this Riley Blake stripe left over from Joe's Log Triangle Shirt.

"Belgian Style" knock off

I used Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee in size 5 with generous seam allowances and a little extra length (Joe is about to size out of the smaller range of this pattern!). Knits can be a "win some, lose some" endeavor, with some items turning out inexplicably better than others, and I'm really especially pleased with how nicely finished this shirt looks. I must say, these Riley Blake jerseys do curl a lot (like the Kaufman Laguna jerseys as well), but press and sew nicely and have a lovely quality feeling to them.

I used bright green quilting cotton from my stash to make the pocket. I actually used the breast pocket piece from the Sketchbook Shirt to make the pocket, and then drafted a little "flap," applying it just like the cargo pockets on the Field Trip Cargos (it's true what they say about oliver + s patterns providing a sewing education!). If you do this at home, don't forget to put your buttonhole in the flap before you sew it on!

"Belgian Style" knock off

Just as in the original, the back of the shirt is a contrast gray (I used some cheap gray jersey I have had in my stash for a long time) and I used gray ribbing (harvested from an old tank top) for the neckline. 

"Belgian Style" knock off

Since sewing up the Grainline in a plaid fabric, I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of pattern matching. These sleeves aren't perfect but they're pretty good! One of the best parts of having a sewing blog is creating a record and being able to see your slow improvements over time.

The best part is that Joe really likes his new shirt, and Maggie liked it so much she has already put in an order for "one with a pink pocket"! Luckily I still have more black striped fabric!


"Belgian Style" knock off

Jumping for joy!

"Belgian Style" knock off

Oh right, I was distracted there. The shorts! These are exciting for two reasons: (1) They are made from a woven material! Joe has worn almost solely knit fabrics for over a year. (2) Joe likes them anyway! WAHOO!

"Belgian Style" knock off

The secret is the soft fabric (not stiff at all) and a knit waistband. Aha! This is life-changing, people. As much as I enjoy sewing with knits, I have bridled under Joe's restrictive requirements for the past year ... I want more variety! So this is great news.

"Belgian Style" knock off

For these, I used a super-soft black chambray shirting fabric that has been in my stash since  ... OMG, talk about a walk down memory lane, 2011! There's nothing stiff or scratchy about this stuff, and it drapes really nicely. I'm pretty sure I got it at Britex, they have the most beautiful shirtings. Joe really liked the vertical stripe on the original pinned pair, and on our computer screen it read "red" rather than the "hot pink" Celina said it was in her blog post, so we went with red. For the stripe, I used some red double fold bias tape I had the in the stash and ironed it flat into single fold and applied it to the side of the shorts before sewing up the inseam and crotch.

The pattern, of course, is the Sketchbook Shorts, one of my most sewn patterns of all time, I think, in size 5. Besides the stripe on the side, the changes I made to the pattern included scooping the pockets lower (I've always found the hand openings to be a tad too small on this pattern) and cutting the waistband in soft lycra jersey, and a little bit wider than the original pattern waistband piece. Then I used wider elastic which I secured to the side seams so it doesn't roll. I sewed the elastic into a loop, placed it inside the waistband loop, and serged it right onto the shorts. Then I pressed the waist seam allowance down and sewed a soft ribbon tag in the back to help Joe figure out which way is which and hopefully cover up that slightly rough spot where the serged waist seam meets the center back seam.  These remind me a little bit of maternity shorts, but Joe likes them and finds them comfortable! And I'm just THRILLED to be able to make him some shorts (mostly) in non-jersey fabric! Ah, the simple things in life, right?

Maybe he'll start wearing pants again at some point? Let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

"Belgian Style" knock off

Joe says, "No, I like shorts."

For my part, I've already cut him out another pair of Sketchbook Shorts, this time color blocked, in a very soft linen. Fingers crossed!

A huge thank you to Celina Bailey of Petit a Petit + family for providing such great inspiration, for being flattered rather than annoyed at my blatant copying, and for graciously allowing me to borrow her photograph for this blog!  Joe and I are so pleased with his new outfit!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

An Easter - no, make that "Vernal" - Geranium.

Geranium Easter Dress

Oh, my sweet Miss Margaret Joy! Since I last blogged a Maggie dress, she got her first haircut! A cute almost bowl-like bob. I held out for a while, but Maggie's long hair was getting a bit straggly and she never lets me put it back in a ponytail or barrette ... or comb it ... so finally I decided we'd all be happier with a cute short cut.

I didn't mean for it to be quite so bowl-like, but with kid haircuts you just pretty much get what you get - the style of the haircut is determined by how long your child will sit still and how much they are hating the process. Which for my kids is quite a lot (of dislike, that is). We went to a local place called "Queenie's," walking distance from our house, where all of the hairdressers and customers were speaking Cantonese. I was skeptical of a place that advertises $7 cuts and doesn't specialize in kids, but Steve told me they did a nice job with Joe, and he was so right! Queenie herself fussed over Maggie and was so sweet and patient with both Joe and Maggie while they were enduring their haircuts, and then gave them tamarind lollypops as a reward! They were pretty thrilled by that.

Here's an action shot for your amusement.

Look at that face. That is Maggie's "I'm putting up with this right now, but make no mistake, I am NOT ENJOYING IT" face. My hand firmly on her shoulder and around her neck? Necessary in order that she not get poked with scissors. Sorry babes.

Geranium Easter Dress

Of course, Maggie would be adorable with any type of hair, but look how her new bangs frame her pretty brown eyes! Of course she wakes up with it looking pretty much this adorable. I don't know how she does it - I wish I had this problem! This girl's hair naturally falls into a default mode of "artfully unkempt hipster."

Geranium Easter Dress

Onto the dress. This was intended to be an Easter dress, and was finished in plenty of time, but then, alas, Maggie came down with a fever right before Easter and couldn't participate in the festivities. Joe and I went to the egg hunt on our own, and this dress sat until last weekend, when I finally pulled it out and asked Maggie if she'd like to try it on and take pictures. Thankfully, she said "I like it!" and readily agreed to my plan.

Of course, this is the well known and rightfully popular Geranium Dress by Rae, in size 18 months, with a plain neckline, gathered skirt, flutter sleeves, and no pockets. I used a pretty calico I bought at A Verb For Keeping Warm, a small Oakland shop with a lovely selection of quality yarns and a beautifully curated selection of fabrics (including Liberty, Nani Iro, and gorgeous linens as well as some quilting cottons like this one). I liked that while it has pink flowers (sure to please Maggie), it has lots of yellowy cream and spring green and doesn't read predominantly pink (which pleases me). It has a stripey (wallpaper-like) floral motif, and I ran the stripes horizontally on the bodice and vertically on the skirt.

Geranium Easter Dress

I wanted to "fancy" the dress up a bit for Easter, so, inspired by this version, I embellished the waistline with a simple spring green grosgrain ribbon and sewed a little bow on the front. I sewed the ribbon on with pick stitches before whip stitching the lining down by hand (thus hiding my ribbon stitches inside the bodice).  

Geranium Easter Dress

The back closes up with green buttons (maybe they could've been placed better, shrug). The size of the dress is just right for petite Maggie, with no growing-into required. I finished the flutter sleeves with a simple zig-zag and they have a charmingly raggedy look.

Geranium Easter Dress

I lengthened the skirt pattern pieces by a few inches and then turned over and handstitched a 3 inch deep hem. The skirt ended up a bit shorter than the pattern is drafted for (it just clears Maggie's knees). I love a deep hem on little girls' dresses. It has an old-fashioned look to me. Traditionally, I think such a deep hem was done with an eye to letting the dress out as the child grew, but as Rachel and Alicia Paulson have both recently mentioned, a deep hem also adds weight and substance to the hem that help a gathered skirt to hang better.

As you can probably guess, Maggie chose her own hosiery and footwear for this photo shoot. 

Initially I was a little disappointed that Maggie didn't get a chance to wear this on Easter (and, let's face it, be photographed in it holding an Easter basket), and after all that hand-stitching, I wasn't sure how much wear it would see, but do you want to know the best part about this dress?

She loves it! Look at her testing the "twirl"!

Geranium Easter Dress

Geranium Easter Dress

Geranium Easter Dress

She actually wore this dress two days in a row, and I had to convince her to take it off on the third day. So I think it will get plenty of love, and there is no better feeling for me than making something that my kids love! Oh my sweet girl.

Friday, April 10, 2015

KCW and some Spring and Summer Pinterest planning.

Well, I signed up for this Spring's KCW. As usual, it's a busy week for me, so we'll see how I do, but I thought it would be a good motivator to focus on whipping up a few things for the kids this month. So right now I'm in planning mode.

I love Pinterest, don't you? My friend and I were talking recently about how we think it might be our favorite social media. I have groomed my feed pretty well (for me, this means I religiously unfollow boards that deal with dieting, working out, getting or being skinny, and, I admit, collections of religious and inspirational quotes) so it's mostly filled with lovely things. I like to open it late at night after my kids have fallen asleep, and go to my "happy place" of pretty things, sewing and craft projects. I also use it to keep track of great things I see on blogs or elsewhere on the internet and want to remember later.

I have a board of general children's wear but it has grown to ungainly proportions, so for purposes of more practical sewing planning for the next few months, I started boards to collect photos or ideas for items that I would like to do sooner rather than later. I have one board for Maggie, and one for Joe (I also started one for selfish sewing, but that will have to be the subject of a different blog post). It's still an ambitious collection and I'll never sew all the things, but it's definitely more manageable. And since I'm on a budget, my focus with these boards was to find items that could be made with patterns and materials that I already have.

Click on my little Pinterest widgets to go to my boards, and then click on the images to see the source. I hope no one minds me using these inspiration images (if so, please let me know!). I know that different bloggers, etc., have different comfort levels with being "pinned" and I try to respect those wishes. Let me know if I messed up!

So let's talk sewing planning for Joe for KCW and beyond!

Joe's Spring/Summer theme is ... wait for it ... you'll be shocked ... t-shirts and shorts! Hahaha. As in, the only clothing he ever wears. Crazy, right? But there are some other concepts here as well:
  • Color blocked t-shirts. Not only is color blocking fun and lively to look at, but it will help me use up scraps! Yay! I have two TNT t-shirt patterns for Joe these days: a rather squarish Ottobre tee (scroll to the bottom of that post), and the Field Trip Raglan. These two patterns pretty much cover all of my t-shirt needs and they are already traced out and ready to go in Joe's size. 
  • Pockets. Joe likes shirts with pockets so why not make that colorful contrasting pockets? Maybe with flaps and buttons?
  • Henley - I would like to try a henley tee for Joe one of these days, Ottobre has a really great looking pattern.
  • More knit shorts with ribbed waistbands. Joe is wearing his bright rainbow shorts everytime they are clean, so that was a huge win! I need to make more pairs, hopefully with more colorful details. I am also wondering if Joe might be willing to try woven shorts if I put a knit waistband on them. I am considering trying that with the Sketchbook shorts pattern in a soft fabric to start.
  • Raglan sweatshirt. I want to use the Field Trip pattern to make Joe a classic raglan sweatshirt. I have some plain navy sweatshirt fleece, but it definitely needs "something" to make it more fun and interesting. Thoughts?
  • Flannel shirt. Ambitious and may not happen, but I would love to sew Joe an oversized flannel shirt to wear over his play clothes using the trusty Sketchbook shirt ... 
Okay, that's a lot, and look, Maggie's board is even more ambitious! Haha, allow me to dream, okay? Girls are fun to sew and to Pin for, clearly! I will never be able to make all of these things, but it sure is fun plotting and scheming.

Maggie's board is more specifically pattern-themed, with a focus on patterns I have - there are an embarrassing number of little girls' patterns I have bought but not yet sewn as well as many old favorites I really want to make again. Let's put a dent in that pile, shall we?

  • T-shirts. I have never made a Flashback Skinny tee for Maggie! She's small for her age but I think I can work with the 2T now. I'm thinking a "ringer" style tee or maybe a simple tee with puffed sleeves.
  • Pants/Trousers. I would love to make Maggie some simple Sailboat pants in denim (if she can tolerate the lack of pink), and I really want to try a pair of Sketchbook pants for her, lengthened and pegged a bit.  She is also almost big enough for some Parsley pants, which I would like to straighten into little patterned stovepipes like this.
  • Knit dress. I really want to revisit the Little Betty pattern for Maggie, and make it into a dress. Did you see the gorgeous one in Stylo a while back? Or what about a lengthened Sailboat top?
  • Never-sewn patterns to consider: The Hide and Seek, the Franklin Dress, the Garden Party, the Hopscotch Skirt, oh my, the list just goes on and on! 
  • Pinnies. Oh, the cute pinafores!! I can't stand them! I would love to make one or two of these for Maggie, and they can double as sundresses.
Okay, now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed! Too many wonderful ideas, not enough time! I'll probably pare this down to, I don't know, two or three garments for KCW.  I do have a job, after all!!

Are you planning for S/S (F/W for you Aussies) 2015 kid sewing? What's on your to-make list?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Noodlehead Divided Basket and misc.

I've been a busy seamstress the past few weeks. I actually made an Easter dress for Maggie, but then she came down with a fever on the night before Easter and couldn't participate in the festivities, so she hasn't had a chance to wear it yet. Boo. Don't worry, though: it's just a simple cotton dress, I'm sure it will get plenty of wear and I will get some photos soon and share it here.

I am also working on a quilt top and I cut out a blouse for myself, so ... right, in other words my sewing area is a hot mess now! I really need to stop sewing and focus more on getting our house ready to sell, but ...  sewing is one of my favorite forms of procrastination and denial.

Since I don't have any more recently finished objects to share, I'm taking this opportunity to share a gift I made last month for a dear friend who just had her second daughter. I wanted to send something for the new baby, but also a little something for mom. She's a fellow seamstress, crocheter, and lover of all things textile, which, by the way, makes it even more fun to sew gifts! I know that she reads many of the same blogs I do, and consequently, recognizes and lusts after fun fabric lines just like I do!

Noodlehead Divided Basket

So while Noodlehead's Divided Basket does work to store all kinds of baby things, I definitely made this with mom in mind! I thought she might like to use it for hand-sewing, yarn, or bits and bobs. It can't hurt that the use of Cotton + Steel fabrics automatically elevates the hipness of any article by at least 10 hipster points, right? It's rare that I fall head over heels for a designer quilting cotton line, but there is something irresistible about this one, probably the super hipness, what do you think? I dunno, this stuff is just cool.

Noodlehead Divided Basket

I don't usually do a lot of bag sewing, and this was first time using a Noodlehead patterns, and my first time using fusible fleece. I'll be honest with you, this was the project that broke my sewing machine. (I was trying to sew through many thick layers of fabric and interfacing and fleece, and I think what happened is that I bent the needle, which then hit the bobbin case and messed up the timing - it's all fixed now thank goodness!) I finished it up on my Elna, which is tiny and quiet but could sew through giant logs unfazed, I'm telling you. Machine damage aside, I thought the pattern was well drafted and affordable and the instructions were great. It was not a difficult pattern to sew, I just need to learn how to sew box corners with so many layers of fabric!

If I do another one of these baskets, it will be on one of my older, sturdier, machines.

Noodlehead Divided Basket

For whatever reason, "bag sewing" remains a challenge for me! But I do love the final results and I definitely need one for my yarns and crochet hooks, so chances are good I will be trying it again. I think my favorite part of this pattern is the use of cotton webbing in the handles. I don't know what it is, but it just looks so clever and professional with that partial covering/binding.

Inside the basket were a few gifts for baby. A simple baby blanket made from Nani Iro double gauze. The fabric is so nice it really didn't need anything fancy, I just sewed two yards right sides together, turned them and topstitched. It's so light and fluffy! Perfect for wrapping a baby in during the warmer months.

Nani Iro baby blanket

I told you my sewing space was a mess. Sigh.

And I whipped up a couple of pairs of little baggy baby pants on the serger using some knits from the stash. 

Ottobre 3/2013 #7

These are from Ottobre Magazine, 3/2013, #7. My friend uses cloth diapers so I was looking for something with a nice generous fit around the tush.

Ottobre 3/2013 #7

So I have no idea how these will work in real life (it's weird sewing for a baby now that I no longer have a baby in the house to try things on!). I did do things a bit differently with these than the pattern called for. The pattern had me hemming the waist band and cuffs. That just seemed ... uh, a little weird, so I doubled over the cuffs on both pairs, and did the same with the waistband on the yellow ribbing pair. I have no idea! I can't wait to hear how these work out. If they are a success, they are easy as can be and I'll be making more!

Do you use extra special materials when you sew for other sewing/fabric/crafty people?