Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tried n' True.

I did not formally participate in KCW this time  around, but I was inspired by all of your makes to make some clothes for the kiddos. Last week I had a little bit of a downer week for sewing - I sewed two t-shirts for Steve and didn't like either of them. They're wearable, maybe, for working around the house, but not great.  That was frustrating. I might give it another shot and blog about the whole ordeal, or I might not. In the meantime, though, I find there are few things better for recovering from a sewing slump than sewing up a few tried and true kids' patterns. Yesterday I found myself taking an unexpected sick day so that Steve could visit his dad, who wasn't feeling well. He's doing better now, thank goodness, and with my unexpected time off, I sewed out an outfit for Maggie that was in my queue: a floral Class Picnic Blouse and a pair of pink cord Parsley Pants

First up, a Class Picnic blouse in a very soft, semi-sheer cotton which Maggie helped me choose from A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland.  This fabric is so soft and nice to work with,I knew immediately it would be perfect for this peasant blouse style. I made the top in size 2T with the only modifications being lengthening the blouse by three inches and adding eyelet lace trim to the yoke, which gives the top a flower-child (also, a little night-gown-like!) appearance. I find it impossible to make this pattern without doing piping or another trim along the front, this cut just screams for a little something right there.


The Class Picnic Blouse is a strong favorite of mine. It is such a classic shape, works for girls of all ages, sews up quickly, and lends itself to fun decorative details like piping or lace. This version was definitely inspired by the vintage tastes of Ana Sofia of S is for Sewing - I love her aesthetic and am always taken by her use of trim in girls' clothing. The garments she sews look like something out of a 1950s children's book.
Although, paired with these Parsley pants and glittery sneakers, the look is more "groovy 60s" than "50s children book," isn't it?

I haven't made up the Parsley Pants pattern in a little while, but it's still a huge winner. Since Joe won't wear long pants or pants with woven fabric touching his waist, I'm glad that Maggie is now size 2T and is now in the size range of this pattern. She insists on a lot of pink, but she will wear pants at least! Ay, these children and their pickiness!

These are in pink cord (a gift from a sewing buddy), with patch pockets and knee  patches. I used up some last scraps of hot pink piping on the openings to the pockets. Since the waistline tends to be bit bulky in thicker fabrics with this pattern, I just serged the top edge of the pants and folded it once to create a waistband, and stitched it down without turning it over again. I really like this worked out with this cord. (Also, cute tummy!!) Otherwise, there's not much to report about this pattern - it is super easy and fast to sew and the fit is great.

Maggie really played up the hippy vibe by picking flowers in the front yard for this photo shoot.

And for a little something extra, Joe joined the photo shoot and just happened to be wearing a t-shirt I made him a while back and never blogged.

This is another tried n' true Rae pattern, the Flashback Skinny Tee, in size 5 with extra length for my long-torsoed boy. I've lost count of how many FSTs I've made for Joe over the years. For this one, I used some miscellaneous scraps of knit I had in the stash. I love the mix of fabrics here. The bright green ribbing is a good one, but unfortunately I've forgotten when or where I picked it up! Argh!

 Not much to say about this make, except I have really cute, sweet kids. :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Maggie's choice.


Hello again! As promised, I'm back with Maggie's choice, in all its pepto-pink glory! Directed to the cotton knits at Stonemountain, Maggie chose this very, very bright pink polka dot Laguna knit, enthusiastically dubbing it "Minnie Mouse Fabric"! 

I went back and forth on what to make with it, and decided to peruse my Ottobres for ideas. Ottobre Magazines are packed with excellent patterns - and they are especially an amazing resource for sewing with knits. The sheer variety is almost overwhelming! There are so many adorable patterns, but when I stumbled on this page of Issue 6/2013, I knew I had found the one! I like that's it an autumn/winter appropriate outfit, has a Hanna Andersson aesthetic, and that adorable model in her boots sure doesn't hurt, right? I just so happened to have some Riley Blake lycra jersey in pink stripes in my stash, so we were ready to go!

These are patterns #11 and 12, the "Arctic Summer Tunic" and "Tiny Path Leggings." The tunic is gathered across the center front and back with clear elastic, and has a straight, rather than curved hem, which makes it drape longer at the side seams. The leggings are a basic two piece (front and back) legging with adorable knee patches, which are completely useless but seriously freaking adorable. I think I'll be adding knee patches to future leggings!

I sewed this in a size 92, which is the equivalent of 2T as far as I can tell. Ottobre Magazine patterns each have a size range, with an obvious separation between baby, little kid, and big kid patterns. Many of my favorite cute little girl patterns start at size 92, with the smaller items being more babyish. This was a little bit of a problem because Maggie is so small for her age and the patterns that fit her veered on too baby-in-diapers-ish for my potty-trained preschooler. This tunic and leggings are both a little big on Maggie,  but definitely wearable. This opens up a lot more options for her!

Made up in these fabrics, this is less Hanna and more Disney, for sure, but Maggie is absolutely delighted, so I can't really complain. This girl sure loves her pink! I did have to talk her into using purple for the accents rather than even. more. pink. I'm glad I won that argument.

Asking your child to make funny faces is a sure way to get them in a good mood for a photo shoot! 

I used some stash jersey for the knee patches, and this really great bamboo ribbing from Stonemountain for the neck and wrists. Since I started sewing knits, I have struggled to find good ribbing for necklines and wrists. 100% cotton ribbing may be super soft and nice but it has terrible recovery and waves and stretches out all over the place. Thick sweater ribbings are inappropriate for kids' clothes. For a long time, Stonemountain only carried decent lycra ribbings in black or white, which is just boring. So I often used stretchy cotton-lycra fabric instead of ribbing, and that was fine, but the search for colorful quality ribbing continued. Online shopping for knits is especially dangerous because you just don't know what you'll end up with, and I had some big fails in that department. Recently, Stonemountain started carrying this bamboo ribbing in a variety of colors. It seemed to have the right amount of "pop" for my purposes and best of all, comes in bright fun colors. I bought a small piece of this purple, and I am thrilled to report that this stuff is awesome! It has just the right amount of stretch with excellent recovery and it's not too bulky. It is really stretchy but then it just pops right back into place. I lurrrrve it. (You know you're a sewing geek when you fall in love with ribbing.) I've been buying a yard in every color! I love it!

The wrists are lightly gathered with clear elastic before the binding is applied, which makes for an especially stretchy and nice finish. Again, I followed the Ottobre instructions for binding the neckline and wrist seams, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. Next time, though, I will ignore the instructions to completely bind the sleeve bottom before sewing the underarm and side seams. I just don't have the serger skills to pull that off nicely and my wrists are a little mismatched right at the binding. Next time I'll sew the binding on flat but finish it in the round. It's not a noticeable issue, however.

The straight hem makes this little tunic especially easy to finish and there is a soft "v" at each side seam which is really cute. 

I broke my twin needle making Joe's Rowan hoodie, so I just used zig-zag on this outfit, with no walking foot or anything, and it looks totally fine. In my experience, zig zag hems are less likely to pop than twin needle finishes on edges (like legging hems) that are under a lot of stress. One of these days I will try using stretchy thread in my bobbin like Rachel does ... that might help with that. In the meantime, I will sing the praises of the humble zig-zag stitch, especially on childrens' playclothes. As far as a walking foot, sewing knits is such a "feel" - I seem to have gotten a lot better at moving the fabric under the pressure foot without stretching it out too much. For fabrics with good recovery like these, I find I don't need any special setup on my sewing machine. Kaufman's Laguna jerseys curl quite a bit, I find, but are forgiving to sew. Wavy hems steam right back to flat under a hot iron. The Riley Blake jersey is less curly and even more forgiving. I would strongly recommend both of these knit lines for folks learning to sew on knits. I've now sewn with them a TON  and they are the right weight for casual t-shirts and kids' clothes.

The skirt has a little twirl factor, which is always a win with the little girls!

This is such a practical ensemble  for a little girl. You could make a whole wardrobe of these. I probably won't do that, simply because there are too many other patterns I want to try! But you definitely could! And although it's about 500X more pink than I would prefer (GAG), Maggie loves it, and that's really what matters. I will continue to try to convert my children to mustard yellow, but in the meantime, it's great to see Maggie excited to wear something mama made. I can make mustard yellow things for myself!

I have a couple more items on this sewing queue to make up before I start working on my next queue! Next up, sewing for the husband! EEK!

What's on your sewing queue?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Swirly Snails.

I'm trying something new with my sewing: I sketched (okay, scribbled) some loose sewing plans in one of my sketchbooks. It's like a visual version of Nicole's "rota" and includes plans for everyone in my family (including Steve!) plus a couple of gifts. And then I have gone through each of the items (in no particular order) and knocked out my projects in a somewhat organized methodical fashion!

Who am I? Yeah, we'll see how long this lasts, right? So far it has been fun.

Every fabric store should have a basket of toys somewhere, amiright? There is a reason that Stonemountain and A Verb for Keeping Warm are my favorite local fabric stores: TOYS. I am a fan of local independently owned fabric stores for all of the usual reasons as well, but the toys are a huge factor! I can actually say to my kids, "let's go to the fabric store!" and they are cooperative, even eager! They want to know if it's the store with the kid-sized shopping cart (Stonemountain) or the one with the basket of legos and train set pieces (AVFKW). And over the years, their interest in the fabric store has expanded from the toys and potential to wreck havoc in the thread and zipper sections to the actual fabric. Every once in a while, I allow them to each pick out a fabric for a new piece of clothing. This requires some diplomatic steering by me ("No, I am not going to sew with bubble gum pink cupcake-printed quilting cotton"), especially with Maggie. Joe, with his budding sewing knowledge, is learning that some fabrics are "t-shirt fabrics" and other fabrics are "button-down shirt fabrics." Maggie still only cares about "PINK!"
On the way home from the fabric store last week, Joe announced, "When Maggie gets older, you will teach her to sew, like me, right? I already know how to sew, because I watch you sew every day!"

"Maggie," he explained, "you have to go slowly and make sure your fingers don't get pinched." 

On this most recent outing, I steered the kids to the cotton lycra knits and asked them to pick something from that section. Maggie chose something predictably pepto pink, which I will be sharing with you in my next blog post. But Joe really surprised and delighted me by choosing this really beautiful Valori Wells print. It is not something I would have picked for Joe, probably writing it off as too feminine, but Joe has such a good eye! Not only is the print fantastic and boy-appropriate, but the print reminds Joe of "swirly snails" which is obviously a win!
Also, hello, is that Joe's color or what? When Joe put on his new Rowan Tee hoodie, I commented "Joe, that color makes your eyes pop right out of your head!"

To which Joe responded, "Eyes popping out of my head?! Ewwwww. That would be gross!"

Okay,  Mr. Literal.

He may also have commented that the kangaroo pocket "looks like there is a pair of undies stuck to the shirt."
Um. Okay, now that you mention it ... I am going to think about undies every time I see that pocket!

He's wearing it, and that's what counts, right? Now I want to sew all the light blue things for Joe. Lucky for me, his favorite colors are blue and green, and he loves interesting (some might say busy) prints. While Joe is extremely picky about comfort (ahem, we are dealing with some sensory issues in my house), I do love his taste in fabrics and when we can agree on a project, he is really fun to sew for.

Anyway, pattern deets! I've been a Titchy Threads fan for a long time, but this was my first time sewing the Rowan Tee. Laura kindly gifted me the pattern a while back as a thank you for testing the Safari Raglan pattern. There's no real reason I hadn't sewn it yet except that I have several TNT t-shirt patterns for Joe and didn't feel like printing out and tracing a new pattern. But with the autumn coming, I was inspired to sew a sweatshirt-styled tee for Joe. This knit has a nice weight to it that lends itself to a warm layer, and I love all of the options this pattern provides. I decided to make the hooded version with arm stripe and kangaroo pocket, using a light blue jersey for the contrast and lining.

It may technically be autumn, but has not started to cool off much in Oakland. Joe was a good sport and came outside to let me photograph him even though this sweatshirt was really too warm to be wearing on a warm October day.

Titchy patterns are great and walk you through every detail of construction. I love that she gives you the option of printing in only one size (layered sizes) and that she tells you which pages to print for which option, so that you can save paper if you plan to make only one option. Her instructions are also super thorough.

Now, at this stage in my sewing career, I don't always appreciate "thoroughness" in instructions the way a newbie might, because there is more detail than I need and it is hard to scroll through super long instructions to find the information I do need. But, never fear! Laura has a "cheat sheet" at the end for more experienced sewists or for repeat sews. The only part of this pattern where I really needed the instructions was the arm stripe (which goes in after you sew the sleeves to the body!) and attaching the hood to the neckline. For those sections I did go to the more detailed step-by-step instructions and found the illustrations to be great.

Titchy Patterns are everything you have come to want and expect in an indie pattern - great fit, clear and thorough instructions, lots of photographs, and lots of options. And as I've said before, Laura's drafting is especially precise and her finishing is very clean.

Some thoughts on this pattern that might be helpful for others (or future Inder):

  • The sleeves are cut very narrow, and the Valori Wells knit is not very stretchy, so this is definitely a hooded tee, rather than a sweatshirt that can easily accommodate under layers. Most likely Joe will wear this over a short sleeved shirt. 
  • The stripes are not overlaid but rather pieced into the shoulder. I was (and am) a little concerned about how many seams this tee has, and whether my super-sensitive Joe will decide that they are annoying. 
  • Similarly, the hood is simply sewn to the neckline and then the seam allowance is pressed down. Topstitching in the seam allowance is given as an option. I serged this seam and topstitched the seam allowance down, but I am worried that the serged seam around the neck might bug Joe. So far he hasn't complained, but I know this kid. He's like the Princess and the Pea when it comes to clothing. I am considering going back and sewing a thin strip of jersey over that seam to protect his sensitive skin from the serged and topstitched seam allowance, which is a little thick and scratchy.
I will say this, allowing my kids to pick fabric for a project seems to be helping them to feel more excited about the things that I make them. I am also getting better about knowing what Joe will or will not tolerate as far as garments. I know Joe loves the looks of this sweatshirt, he was so excited when I finished it! So now we just have to see if it meets his standards for comfort. I get the feeling that learning to sew for kids with "sensory issues" is going to be part of my life for a long time.

Joe has already picked the fabric for his next project, a deliciously soft blue tweedy cotton flannel for a "soft button down shirt." We are currently arguing over whether it should have brown buttons (me) or blue buttons (him). But you'll have to wait your turn, Kiddo! I'm on a rota!