Monday, May 30, 2016

Kids Clothes Week Part 2: Parachute Polo and Sketchbook Shorts.

Hi again! I'm here with my second installment from Kids Clothes Week. Although I was excited to make Maggie her Mori Dress, the reason I decided to participate in Kid's Clothes Week this time around was actually Joe. He needs warm weather clothes a lot more than Maggie does, and I have piles of fabric that I purchased with him in mind! Time to get sewing!

The shirt is the Oliver + S Parachute Polo, in a really lovely European knit that I got from Mabel Madison, which is an online store that sells European fabrics (like some of the great fabrics you see in Ottobre Magazine). I bought a couple of pieces this past winter, just to see what I thought of them (they're not cheap!), and I must say I was pretty thrilled with the quality of the fabrics I received. This blue and navy stars Stenzo jersey is really stretchy, but also very smooth and stable. It curls a bit, but less than some other jerseys, and washed up really nicely.

I used plain chambray for the pocket, collar, and placket. Lately, Joe has been saying that his favorite colors are "blue and gold" so I chose some golden yellow buttons. I love the pop of color and I am thrilled that one of my children has decided to embrace "glorious yellow"!

This was my first time sewing this shirt, and it is a satisfying, somewhat exacting sew. I would not say this was a good pattern for a beginner to sewing knits (or a beginner, period) - the combination of knit and woven fabrics in this pattern is pretty challenging. Sewing the collar onto the neckline is tricky! My neckline has a couple of small puckers that no one would ever notice, but even that took a couple of tries. Still, when I saw the cute collar all done, I got such a feeling of accomplishment and delight! It just looks so great! The polo collar really takes a basic t-shirt up a notch.

The top fits perfectly (this is a size 6 with no alterations). I tried Wonder Tape for the first time, to hold the hem in place while I sewed it with a double needle, and it worked really well! In addition to holding the hem in place, the tape stabilizes the stretchy knit and makes for a beautiful hem (even without a walking foot). I will definitely be using that trick again! I have learned so many great things from reading sewing blogs, and I wish I had tried this one sooner.

The shorts are my old stand-by, the Sketchbook Shorts, in a lovely textured Union Chambray from Robert Kaufman. It's a lightweight shirting fabric, and makes for a very light, breezy pair of shorts. These are Size 5 with a couple inches of extra length and a few other modifications - I straightened the pocket opening and used "gold" piping, and used a navy french terry for the waist, to make the shorts more comfortable for my sensitive boy.

Sometimes I think about trying a different shorts/pants pattern for Joe, but when it comes to this kid ... well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! After Joe saw these, he requested an "all golden" pair! I showed him some mustard colored linen, and he approved, so I'll be making another pair shortly!

As far as the reception, Joe isn't sure about the shirt. Specifically, he wasn't sure about the buttons and the collar. He's used to wearing t-shirts, and the buttons make this harder to put on and take off by himself (my buttonholes are a tad tight, I'm afraid). But he seemed to get more comfortable during this photo shoot, and hopefully the collar will soften and the buttonholes relax with a few washings. I hope so, because I love it and want to make more polo shirts for Joe, but only if he will wear them!

The shorts ... well, he hasn't taken them off yet. He wears his other knit-waistband Sketchbook Shorts frequently, so I feel pretty confident that these will get frequent use.

I can't believe Joe's kindergarten year is almost over! He has had such a great year. He has learned to read and write, has proven to have above-average math skills (no huge surprise there, but still!), and has made friends. He's still a shy boy, but he has really blossomed this past year. We feel really good about our decision to hold him back a year from kindergarten. He's a year older than his classmates (although it's not uncommon to hold kids back, especially kids with diagnoses or learning issues), but seems to fit right in socially and intellectually. Once we got Joe into his current classroom, with a wonderfully understanding teacher and a great speech therapist, the year just sped by, with Joe happy to go to school every morning and see his friends. That said, he is definitely over school these days, and it's a struggle to get him out of bed and off to school every morning. I think he's just really tired and ready for a break! We are all looking forward to summer vacation!

Seven years old! He is becoming a leggy, lanky boy, and has lost most of his baby chub, but luckily, he is more affectionate and loving than ever. This is a great age.

And that's a wrap for Kids Clothes Week, Spring 2016! Three garments for my kids, which isn't a huge amount, but it is definitely more than I usually make in a week (okay, so both outfits took more like nine days, but still)! Now I can get back to sewing for myself! (Although apparently I am committed to make "all golden" shorts for Joe.)

I'll be back soon with a round-up of the second half of Me-Made-May. It's been a busy month!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Kids Clothes Week Part 1: The Mori Dress.

Hi everyone! Have you been sewing for Kids Clothes Week this time around? It has been a while since I last participated, and while I can't say I sewed for an hour every weeknight this week, I did sew quite a bit more than I usually do on weeknights (baseline: zero hours), so that's good, right?

I fell in love with the Elegance and Elephants Mori Dress pattern the day it came out. If you've been reading my blog for even a short time, you know that I'm a sucker for little bodice ruffles and flounces. This design got extra points for ease, as it does not have any closures. Even so, I managed to resist for a short period of time, until I saw Rachel's Mori Dresses in progress (here and here).  Aren't they stunning? When I saw those contrast yokes with the double-gauze, I was toast. I bought the pattern, and started plotting my own (copycat) version of the dress.

Last weekend, I printed out the pattern and taped the pieces together. I knew I wanted to use this lovely magenta double gauze I have had in my stash for a little while now, but I wasn't sure what to use for a contrasting yoke (copycat!). Knowing Maggie's preferences, I was hunting around for something with some pink in it. Much to my delight, Maggie loved this little piece of Liberty of London I bought for a dress for her before she went through her ALL THE PINK!!! phase.

Maggie's pink obsession seems to be lightening up a bit (knocking madly on wood), and she is much more open to other colors. The pinky-purple flowers on this Liberty lawn were sufficient for her pink needs.

"HALLELUJAH!!!!" shouts this sewing mom! (Then looks around furtively and knocks on wood again, because the pink obsession can always come back ... )

Anyway, back to the dress. If you know the name of this Liberty print, let me know in the comments, I do not generally keep track of such things, and I was unable to find it in an internet search. It's really pretty and goes perfectly with the muted magenta double gauze. I lined the bodice in the double-gauze, so I needed only a small amount of the Liberty. The fabrics make this a really special dress.

I cut a size 2 with 3 length. It ended up seeming a bit large in the bodice, but the length is perfect. I used a deep hem so I could let it down later, and I am hopeful this will last through next year although it's a fact that Maggie is growing fast these days (I thought it would never happen! she's still really small for her age), so who knows?

This dress is fairly simple and straightforward to construct, at least until it comes time to line the bodice. At that point, the pattern guides you through a brain-bending method for creating a fully lined bodice with no closures that I will never be able to repeat! Let's just say I was pretty worried there, thinking there was no way I was going to be turn the bodice right side out afterwards, but it magically worked out, and the result is a really nice lined bodice. (There's a link to a video on the pattern that helped me through it.)

I took a little extra time (on weeknights!) to sew the bodice lining to the dress and hem it by hand. Such special fabrics seem to warrant slightly fancier finishings. I even made a cute little Liberty tag for this dress, forgive the cell phone photo and stained ironing board.

Maggie loves flowers, and loves to pick flowers or herbs from our garden. The lovelies that she is holding in these photographs came from a package of California wildflower seeds I threw into the garden. Mostly weeds came up but there are some pretty flowers too. I see some Godetia and Clarkia here, I believe. Maggie is interested in the names of the flowers and seems to have a good memory for them. She loves to collect little bouquets and put them in water in the kitchen, keeping my kitchen stocked with jars of weedy little flowers. It's pretty great! Maybe she'll grow up to be a gardener and plant lover like her mother? You may chuckle, but I went through a hard-core gardening/wildflower/botany phase when I was in junior high and high school. While other kids were partying and experimenting with drugs, I was poring over field guides and books about English gardening. I almost majored in botany in college! (I ended up choosing anthropology, an even less practical career choice.) Anyway, if my children turn out to be huge nerds, they will have come by it honestly, poor things!

My beautiful little flower!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Me Made May Part 1.

Um, yeah, it is May 24, and I'm just now getting around to posting my round-up of the first half of May. So it goes! The first half of May was a bit chilly, and I wasn't feeling well for much of it, so warmth and comfort reigned supreme.

First Row: (1) Lark Tee; (2) Maritime Top; (3) Bess Top and Pleated Pencil Skirt; (4) Maya Top; (5) Lisette B6182, Linden Sweatshirt and Hemlock Tee

Second Row: (1) Lark Tee; (2) Archer Shirt and Linden Sweatshirt, (3) Plantain Tee (now almost worn out) and Linden Sweatshirt (drapey charcoal french terry, unblogged); (4) Mabel Skirt (unblogged, basic black ponte); (5) Josephine Top

Third Row: (1) Lisette B6182 and Mabel Skirt (striped ponte, unblogged); (2) Plantain tee (remake) and Hudson Pants; (3) Briar Tee; (4) Manila Leggings; (5) Moji Pants and Lark Tee

So far, I've managed to wear me-mades every day of May, only copping out and wearing me-made pajamas once (so far). With me not feeling well and the chilly weather, this year's Me-Made-May definitely feels harder than last year's, and I started to hit "selfie fatigue" earlier in the month. I am also paranoid that I am boring the living daylights out of my non-sewing-instagram-friends! But I really enjoy seeing everyone else's #MMMay16 photos, so I'm taking one for the team. Seeing how everyone styles their me-mades is really interesting and fun, and gives me so many ideas for more selfish sewing. It's worth it!

Takeaway of MMMay Part 1: I wear t-shirts every chance I can get. What about you? What are your most-worn me-mades?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Moji Pants.

Hi readers! I am here today to share my most recent make, the Seamwork Moji Pants. I've had my eye on this pattern since it first came out - I liked the casual patch pockets, the little cuffs, and the fact that this "jogger" pattern, unlike the Hudson Pant, was intended to be made up in woven fabrics like linen and chambray. But I was intimidated, because, um, PANTS! Even a casual draw string pant seems somehow harder and more complicated to fit than a skirt or a top, right?

Nah. It was really totally fine! Seeing everyone's cute casual pants this Me Made May inspired me to finally start this project. I really like linen pants in the summer - they are cool on hot days, but provide a little cover on cool days (i.e., perfect for a Bay Area summer), so I chose this dull red Kaufman Essex Linen from my stash to try them out.  I've been on a red kick lately. After measuring the inseam of the pattern and shortening my pieces by a whopping 4 inches to hit above the ankle (Justine warned in her review that they were a bit long on her and she is an inch taller than I am!), I had just enough fabric to fit all of the pieces of this pattern, with the exception of the pocket facings, which I cut out from a similar but not identical piece of red linen I had in my scrap bin (hey, I like linen, and I like red).

Essex Linen is really nice stuff to work with - it isn't as shifty to cut or work with as most 100% linen fabrics and it presses beautifully. It is also relatively affordable compared to 100% linen so I felt reasonably good about using this piece to try out these pants without first making a muslin .

I sewed these up in a straight size 10 (minus a lot of length as noted above), and I tried them on after I sewed the waistband on. At that point, I made an additional change - I narrowed the legs of the trousers starting around the knees, down to the ankles, and made a corresponding change to the cuff piece, to emphasize the tapered shape of the leg. It's possible I lost some of the taper when I shortened the pants so much. (At one point, I measured the width of a pair of tapered pants that fits me because I was worried the openings would be too narrow to fit my foot through! The width ended up perfect, and the pants are easy to take on and off.)

The cuffs on these pants are a bit odd, only one layer but quite deep. I decided I like them best folded twice, like cuffed pants. I have been meaning to go back and tack them down like this, so that they don't unroll themselves. The cuffs make a cute detail that elevate these casual pants a bit above scrubs.

Finally, I added elastic to the waist as well as the drawstring, because I find drawstring-only waists to be uncomfortable and unflattering on me. I used 1.5" wide elastic, the widest I could fit in the waistband, and sewed the channels over it similar to the way it's done in the Hudson Pants. Then I threaded the drawstring through the middle channel, on top of the elastic. Threading the drawstring through the tiny eyelets and through the thick linen, on top of the elastic, was officially the hardest part of this project. I had to pull it out and start over several times, and it took some concentrated time on the couch in front of the television to get it threaded all the way through.

In hindsight, I am wishing that I had cut the drawstring in two pieces and sewed some more elastic to the back before threading it, but no way am I doing THAT again. Even with the elastic underneath, I feel like the drawstring gets uncomfortable when I'm sitting down or moving around a lot. Elastic rules the day!

I tried but completely failed to apply eyelets to the center front for the drawstring - I hammered them together, and they seemed to be fine, but they basically started to fall out right away. They just did not "grab" the fabric properly. I've also consistently had this experience with snaps. I can't figure it out! I am hammering them in as hard as I possibly can without destroying the snaps but they just never seem to have any staying power? What am I doing wrong? All you lovely sewing bloggers seem to put snaps on things regularly, but I have literally never once had them work out. I've heard mixed things about snap pliers, but maybe that's the key? Do tell! Anyway, after that fail, I hand embroidered eyelets using six strands of brick-red embroidery thread, and they look fine and feel really sturdy. That only took me a few minutes and I know they won't fall out.

I've read a recent review pointing out that the drafting of the Moji pants may be off, especially in the smaller sizes. Luckily this did not seem to be an issue in size 10, but it should be noted that I chose that size based on my waist measurement, and my actual hip measurement is smaller than the size 10 measurement (not a pear shape). Regardless, there is plenty of ease around the hips and waist for me in this size, but this is something you should be aware of if you are sewing up a smaller size.

Incidentally, these pair well with both of my new Lark Tees, so yay handmade weekend wardrobe! Yes, these are weekend pants. I think they're too casual even for casual Friday at work, with the drawstring waist and all. But I am sure I'll wear them plenty on weekends and days off.

Here's the back view. Yeah, they have a little bit of "mom butt" happening, but don't think it's going to prevent me from wearing these pants! I will be honest, when I first saw the back view, I was a little dismayed, but they don't look so bad in these photos. They are really comfortable and perfect for schlepping kids around on the weekends and doing "mom" things! Elastic waists are a trend I am embracing whole-heartedly! HA! 

Will I make these again? Well, I am already planning to make a shorts version for this summer! Maybe with some back pockets to break up the back expanse, haha.  I think this pattern would make perfect casual drawstring shorts in a lightweight cotton. I don't know that I would do another pair just like these pants, but it is pretty exciting to know that I have a couple of patterns for casual pants (these and the Hudson Pants) that fit me and are easy to sew up. The possibilities are endless! On the other hand, I have so many patterns I want to try! One of these days I am going to take on an actual, non-elastic waist trouser ... 

I have really enjoyed participating in Me Made May this year, and I love seeing all of your outfits on Instagram! It's super inspiring, and my list of planned selfish sewing projects has gone through the roof! I've also ... um ... bought a few new patterns! It's kind of ridiculous, because I also have a lot of plans to make more of the patterns I currently have, but it's impossible to resist! Hopefully I'll be back soon with a roundup and reflections on the first half of May (running late as always on the blog). 

Are you participating in Me Made May? What selfish projects do you have on your list?

P.S. I am planning to participate in KCW this Spring, because, why not? I have several kid items I want to make so this seems like a good way to motivate, although as usual I can't promise a full hour every day what with a planning commission meeting that week but I will make it up on the weekends. Hope some of you will join me!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Four Tees and Oakland Joe.

Hello readers! I just got back from a conference in Orange County so I have a whirlwind week, and I am beat! I am finally getting around to blogging all of the t-shirts I've made recently. For those of you not following my Instagram feed, I ended up tossing the swimsuits I was working on for the kids. For various reasons, I was just not happy with how they were looking. If more fabric had been involved, I might have tried to save them, but since swimsuits only take a TINY amount of fabric, and I have lots more where that came from, I decided to just start over at some point in the future. In the meantime, my kids do have functional RTW swimsuits, and I needed more easy palate cleanser projects, so I made even more t-shirts! Since this is Me-Made-May (follow me here), and I am trying to wear me-mades every day, I made a couple of t-shirts for myself.

 I made two Rowan Tees for Joe, and two Grainline Lark Tees for me. Both of Joe's shirts are recycled from adult t-shirts. I made this one from a thrifted green stripe women's tee, adding a yellow kangaroo pocket and shoulder stripe detail just to liven things up. The shirt is finished off with my favorite bamboo ribbing. Joe really likes this shirt - it's fun to put random things, e.g., golfballs, into the kangaroo pocket! And the green striped fabric is super soft.

This was my first time trying the Lark Tee for myself, and I had a small amount (a yard and a quarter or so) of this peachy triangle fabric, which I picked out of the remnants bin at Britex, but I suspect is a Girl Charlee fabric in this line. I was just able to eek out a scoop neck Lark tee with cap sleeves. I wasn't sure about this color on me or the cap sleeves, which generally aren't my favorite, but I really like this t-shirt! When I tried it on for Steve, he said "that is really nice, I really like the color." Which is a big compliment from my quiet guy!

Do you use the "seasons" model to figure out what colors look good on you? I have a lot of red in my brown hair, and a red head's complexion, so I think I'm either a deep Spring or a soft Autumn (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, look here). I don't always wear colors within those palettes (I do like black and deep clear blues and navy), but I usually do. I am generally drawn to more saturated warm/earth tones. Very dark or bright autumn colors are not my best, but neither are pale, pastel spring colors. I'm somewhere in between - deeper colors, but still a bit muted. This t-shirt is definitely more pastel than I usually go for, but I like it, especially mixed with other colors.

I am a lucky mama! My Joey is so sweet and affectionate.

With his light blue eyes, I suspect Joe is either a spring or a summer. He definitely rocks the pale blues and he has less red in his hair (and more olive-toned skin) than I do. What do you think?

But if I had to choose, and a lot of it is just personal preference, I would always go for this more saturated autumn color on me ...

Here is Lark Tee #2, also made from Britex knit, a really nice-quality rayon blend abstract print in a lovely shade of rust/tomato red. I luuuuuuuurve this top!!! The fabric has a really nice high quality feel to it and the print is really interesting and fun. Again, I only had a yard and a half, but it was enough to do elbow length sleeves. Both of my Larks are in a size 10 in the shoulders and bust, grading to a size 12 at the waist and hips. The only modification I made was to remove about two inches from the length of the tee so that it hits right at my hip and is easy to tuck in. Due to the small amount of fabric, zero attempt was made to match the pattern along the side-seams.

The fit is pretty perfect through the shoulders and neckline, with a soft slouchiness at the waist, which I am loving right now. I could also see just cutting a size 10. I was reluctant to pay money for a t-shirt pattern, given that my favorites (the Plantain Tee and the Hemlock Tee) are free! But I love all of the Lark options, and I am becoming a total Grainline fan-girl, so yup! And I definitely feel like I'll get my money's worth from this pattern. I am looking forward to trying the v-neck variation next.

Ah, cute picture with my kids!!! Maggie insisted on sneaking into this shot. I have to say, posing with my kids is a lot more fun than posing by myself! Here's Joe's last t-shirt - another Rowan I made from an Oaklandish t-shirt that was always too small for me (bless my husband, he thought I was a size small?!). This was a very simple recycle, preserving the hems on the sleeves (but not the bottom of the shirt, in order to center the logo), and using green ribbing for the neck.

There is a little bit of an in-joke with this shirt, based on a conversation I had with Joe last year. We were talking about what to do if you get lost. and he was saying "My daddy's name is Steve, and my mom's name is Inder." "That's right Joe. What's your full name?" Joe, getting confused between full names and the name of his town (also an important thing to know), said, "Um, am I Oakland Joe?"

Me, trying to contain my mirth and delight: "Uh, no ...  you are Joe B."
Joe: "Oh, right! Joe B."

"Oakland Joe"!!!!! I am pretty sure that one is gonna stick!!

I love this kid!!

I am done with t-shirts for now and I'm moving to other Me-Made-May staples, starting with the Seamwork Moji pants. Pants! Eeek! What are you sewing this weekend?