Sunday, November 29, 2015

Parachute PANTS (!!!!!) for Joe.


I mean, what has it been? Two years? Two years of wrecking t-shirts by pulling them over his constantly bare knees when he was cold? Two years of me looking like a negligent mother because my kid wore shorts in 40 degree weather? Two years of me getting cold just looking at Joe?

Of course, to Joe's face, I'm trying to play it cool and not make a big deal about it. Like "yeah, wanna wear these sweatpants? no? that's cool, whatever. no proooooooooblem. cool. so cool." But to you folks, it's all-caps shouting from the freaking rooftops!

He is still on a knit fabrics only kick, but hey, I'll take it.

Anyway, the pants! (PANTS!!!) These are the Oliver + s "Parachute Sweatpants." This was my first time sewing this pattern, but it doesn't get much simpler than this pattern. I confess I skimmed the instructions at best. But I love the way these fit, and so does Joe, so I have a feeling I'll be revisiting this one frequently! I need this pattern in Maggie's size now! 

I used a thrifted sweatshirt for the contrast stripes and waistband, and still had enough fabric left to cut out a separate pair of Parachute shorts from the remainder. The navy sweatshirt fleece came from Stonemountain and is a thick, warm, beefy fabric. My serger struggled a bit with the bulky fabric in these pants, and I actually broke a serger needle on the center back waistband seam! Ugh! But the result is a really warm and cozy pair of sweatpants.

I cut the pattern out in size 6, which was a mistake. Joe still measures as a 5, but he is very long in the torso, so size 6 is usually better for shirts. But he's definitely an average 5 in the legs. I ended up taking 3/4" off the rise of these pants (to avoid a low-hanging crotch) and like three inches off the length! The width of the size 6 is fine, though, and these are roomy, but have a cute narrow cut in the legs.  They fit so much better than the baggy $9 Target sweatpants I've bought Joe!

Besides fit, the other modifications I made were skipping the drawstring (I find drawstrings either get lost or left undone most of the time anyway) and adding pockets. The Oliver + s blog has a tutorial for adding pockets to the Parachute pants, but I used the pocket and pocket facing piece from the Sketchbook Shorts (carving out a deeper pocket opening as per usual with that pattern) as a shortcut.  It's an easy change that doesn't take that much more time or fabric and looks really good (and it's useful too!).

Sorry for the not-so-great photos, it is freezing cold in Oakland right now so indoor photos are a must, and my camera was running out of batteries. Joe had been huddled in front of the fireplace (our sole source of heat for this part of the house) in a soft blanket. He was a good sport and unwrapped himself for a few moments for these photos.

Joe's shirt is an Ottobre t-shirt, 1/2015 #11, one of my favorite t-shirt patterns ever. I made this earlier this year (either Joe grew or the fabric shrunk, because look at his wrists!). It's kind of like a Hemlock Tee for kids - simple rectangles and casual fit. It's a great one for repurposing adult garments, too, and looks great with contrast sleeves or cuffs, or mixed and matched With the bracelet length sleeves and striped fabric, it looks a little sailor-ish, doesn't it? This fabric was a gift from a sewing friend - the stripes are printed on rather than yarn-dyed and the colors have faded a lot in the wash, but this shirt still gets lots of wear.

I spent most of last week working on some deadline-sewing, including items for the coming preschool auction and felt Christmas ornaments for an ornament swap I participate in every year. My makes turned out pretty cute and I feel good about them, but it was great to get back to "sewing whatever I feel like" again. I don't mind occasionally sewing gifts and other items on a deadline, but I am so happy to be done and back to my usual random inspiration and sewing queue! I have plenty of deadlines at my job, and when sewing becomes deadline-oriented or obligatory, it loses some of the fun for me.

Speaking of jobs, I start back at my old firm tomorrow! It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks and things are likely to remain a little intense for another month or two. But of course I still have a list of things I'd like to sew for this coming holiday season! We'll see whether I will bust out a huge amount of holiday sewing or go on strike and rely on storebought gifts, as I have in years past! Ha!

What about you? Do you thrive on a deadline or rebel?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Two Grainline Hemlocks.

Hello friends! I have a new favorite free t-shirt pattern! Yup, you guessed it - it's the Grainline Hemlock Tee, a simple boxy tee shirt. I actually made this ages ago, but didn't blog it right away - instead, I've just been wearing it every time it shows up in the clean laundry basket. Which is why it's a bit crumpled here, I just yanked it out of the clean laundry and threw it on! Ha! 

If this fabric seems familiar, it's because I used it to make a Plantain t-shirt last year. Another great free t-shirt pattern for women! That shirt is still in regular rotation but much faded and worn from constant use and looking a bit shabby. Still, I can't complain, this is a really nice quality knit fabric, and holds up to washing and drying and wearing really well. In all seriousness, I wear my me-made t-shirts more than any other items in my wardrobe. Knit shirts aren't the most interesting thing to sew for myself (or blog about, for that matter), but I wear them to death.

Again, sorry it's so crumpled! Ugh! The Hemlock tee is basically simple rectangles, but with a little bit of shaping. For this versions, I cut the sleeves off just past the elbows and gave the shirt a little bit of a high-low hem. It looks nice over skinny jeans or trousers or tucked into a skirt and under a blazer. And of course, it's super forgiving and comfortable. No wonder I wear it so much!

I don't have much to say about the "instructions," because there aren't any, just a sew-along. Which I didn't even look at! For someone with a basic knowledge of t-shirt making, instructions are not necessary for this pattern. 

I love this version so much, I wanted to make another one and make some progress on stash busting as well, so I whipped one up in this soft rayon tissue knit I've had in my stash forever. The quality of this fabric isn't as great as the one above, but I love the print and it's very soft and comfortable on.

I cut the hem straight across and the sleeves longer on this one, which honestly I don't like as well as the shorter sleeves and high-low hem, but I was short on fabric. Because of the very light, tissue weight knit, this one looks especially nice tucked into a skirt under a blazer, and the colorful print is just the thing to break up a black suit while providing a bit of extra warmth (as opposed to a shell) on cool days. Because this fabric isn't as stretchy as the blue and red floral above, the neckline turned out a bit wider and I do have to adjust it to avoid showing a bra strap. For this reason, it's best under a cardigan or blazer.

When I stand like this, it definitely accentuates my top-heavy figure, but it is helpful for seeing the simple shape of this tee. When I drop my arms, the dropped shoulders and drapey volume are actually quite flattering I think.

This is the best pattern! There are definitely more of these in my future!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flannel Shirt.

Hello friends! I haven't been the greatest blogger lately, I know. I have lots going on in my life right now. I gave notice at my current job in late October, and I start a new job (actually, I am going back to my old office - a rather boring major life change, but a major life change nonetheless!) at the end of November. So I have been a bit frantic trying to wrap things up and transition my projects. I will really miss my buddies at my current job and it's tough to say goodbye to my projects (a.k.a. my babies!!!), but the new job will be great too! When it comes to my career, I would say I'm pretty conservative - I've only had two jobs in my legal career of 13 years, and now I'm going back to the first one!

I have been sewing plenty since I last posted, though. I made a couple of gifts and some autumn bunting, did a little handsewing when I was under the weather last week, and made this warm, cozy flannel shirt for Joe!

The weather has cooled down a lot in Oakland, and Mr. Joe is in need of warm layers for school. He chose this gorgeous Shetland Flannel in navy at A Verb For Keeping Warm. I've been explaining the difference between "t-shirt fabric" and "button-down shirt fabric," and he chose this for a very soft and warm button-down shirt.

This fabric. You guys! Words and photographs just don't do it justice. It is so thick and beefy. Incredibly soft and sturdy stuff. Handling this fabric is truly a sensual pleasure. Go buy some and sew with it. You are very welcome.

For this shirt, I used the Oliver + s Sketchbook Shirt pattern. Joe is still a size 5 by his measurements, but since this was intended to be a layering item, I cut the pattern out in size 6, with the full size 12 length in the torso. In my experience, this pattern runs short through the body, and I wanted this flannel shirt to be big and cozy.

In addition to adding length, the other major modification I made was to the pocket. I took the pocket piece provided by the pattern and expanded it to make a center pleat, and then drafted a pocket facing and flap. That sounds complicated, but you would laugh if you saw my hand-drawn pieces! The pleated pocket has a more lumberjack/traditional flannel shirt feeling and adds a fun detail. Although Joe wanted blue buttons initially, I insisted on brown and found these tan buttons in my stash. I was so right about that! (Sorry Joe.) I love the buttons.

This shirt can be worn buttoned up, or as a jacket-like layer over a t-shirt. Funny face optional.

This is my second time making the Sketchbook Shirt but since my last one, I made an Archer Shirt for myself, and that really got me feeling more comfortable with shirt making. This is a great pattern, not an easy or fast sew, but completely do-able for a beginner. My only constructive criticism is that (a) it really is too short in the body; and (b) I do wish it had a two piece collar option. I like a separate collar stand and collar. Although in this flannel, the one piece version is really fine, and it's unlikely to ever be buttoned up to the top. The Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts is easily one of the most used patterns in my collection. It's an incredible value if you enjoy sewing for boys. But if you make the shirt, add some length. You won't regret it.

Joe is really sensitive to textures, and prefers knit fabrics most of the time. But a roomy and cozy flannel shirt in Joe's favorite color, blue? I think this is going to get a ton of wear. Joe hasn't taken it off since I finished the shirt several hours ago, which is a very encouraging sign.

"Wait a minute ... ," you say.

"What is on Joe's legs? Those don't look like shorts ... ?"

SHHHHHHH!!! Not so loud! Yes, those are pants. The first pants to grace Joe's legs in about two years. But let's play it cool, okay? Don't make a scene. Just act like it's all normal, okay? No big deal.

Yeah, he's wearing a pair of Target sweatpants. The cold finally got to him, I guess. Perhaps there are some Parachute Pants in his future?

But next up, I have been volunteered to make a few superhero capes for Maggie's preschool auction. Bring on the nasty slinky poly satin! What are you working on?