Sunday, September 11, 2016

More School Clothes! Part 2: The Citronille Suzanne.

As promised, I am back to share another item I made for the start of school - in this case, for Maggie. This is the Citronille Suzanne dress (which I made in a tunic length due to fabric constraints). Citronille is a French pattern company with the most drool-worthy old-fashioned patterns for children. Some of the patterns are available in English versions, and you can also get additional patterns with translations included from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. This pattern comes in an English version, but I ordered it from Fiddlehead to save myself the international shipping costs.

I had about one yard of this gorgeous Nani Iro "Poppy Trip" double gauze; maybe less because it shrank a bit in the wash. This lovely print runs up and down but it has a pretty green border along the selvedge. It is not a regular border print, because the border runs parallel to the print, which is a bit strange. I was able to squeeze this little tunic out of the fabric I had with only small scraps leftover. This pattern comes in sizes 2, 4, 6, and 8. I made the size two. With that wide neckline, it makes sense to go down a size when in doubt, to avoid the shoulders falling down the arms.

This pattern is dead simple. The instructions are basic, and there is no mention of finishing seams. As written, the yoke is simply hemmed along the top, and the sleeves are hemmed along the shoulder line, so that there is just one layer of fabric all around the neckline, if that makes sense. Like this:

The basic construction is part of the charm of this pattern, of course - it has a very folkwear vibe. But I could not resist complicating it significantly! I wanted the insides to look nice and finished and I decided to really step things up by using the border of the Nani Iro to embellish the neckline of the dress.

I lined the yoke pieces with muslin, since the double gauze is quite sheer, and applied the trim around the neck as a reverse facing, basically, machine sewing it to the shoulders and bottom yoke, and then hand stitching it in place. This makes the inside of the dress much cleaner and more comfortable. Having hand stitched the neckline, of course I had to hand-hem the sleeves and skirt! Double gauze is so easy to hand-sew invisibly, because you can pick up only the underlayer of gauze.

This pattern has no back or front! It's the same both ways! Of course double gauze gathers beautifully and hangs so nicely so it suits a simple pattern like this perfectly.

Maggie recently got a haircut, at my insistence, since her long baby-fine hair was looking really scraggly along the ends. She got little bangs, and I love them! They swoop to the side and frame her sweet brown eyes.  And her hair is still long enough to put in a ponytail or little braids, but looks much better down now. Yay for less maintenance!

One of my friends mentioned that the overall effect is very "Lizzy Bennett" with the "muslin" fabric, the empire waist and square neckline! I can see that. And Maggie has all the intelligence and sass of a Lizzy Bennett! She may be small for her age, but I am told she stands up for herself at school! She has been well trained by her brother, apparently!

 Maggie paired the tunic with some too-large Hanna Andersen shorts, which - with the bare feet - makes her look like a little hobbit to me! A regency hobbit! She hasn't worn this to school yet, but she really likes it so I think she'll get a lot of wear out of it! Although double-gauze is expensive, precious stuff, I try not to restrict the clothes I make to "nice occasions." We don't have that many nice occasions, and I'd rather see clothes worn and loved.

My final review of this pattern? I think it's cute, but it is so basic, I don't know how much I will use it. The lack of nice finishing bugs me a bit, and I can't imagine sewing it as instructed - I think I would always line the yoke and at least use bias tape to finish the shoulders. That said, what a perfect pattern for a brand new beginner to sewing! I am considering tracing it off for my own use (I don't need instructions for something like this!) and giving my copy away to a friend who is just learning to sew. For being so fast and simple, it really is a pretty dress! Citronille patterns are so pretty to look at, and they do sew up very nicely, but they do not have the attention to detail and thorough instructions I've come to expect from Oliver + s and other modern indie patterns. Sewing with Citronille is more like sewing with vintage patterns - basic sewing knowledge is assumed and information about nice finishing (understitching, for example) is often not included. That said, you couldn't ask for prettier designs! They really are so special and pretty.

I am going to make at least one more item for Maggie for this new school year, and then I need to work on several gifts. So you'll be hearing from me again soon! Do you do back to school sewing for your kids?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

More School Clothes! Part 1: The "Golden Shirt."

Hello readers! I'm back for a second installment of school clothes for my kidlets. Joe started first grade a couple weeks ago, and Maggie is back in preschool (for her third year) this week! One of the ways that we sewing moms show our love and concern for our kids is to dress them in things we've made before sending them out into the world. So the start of the new school year puts me into a flurry of sewing activity.

I'm going to break this down into two blog posts, talking about Joe's shirt first. This is the "golden shirt" that he requested not that long ago. Joe likes to tell me that I make more things for Maggie than I do for him. This may be true, for a variety of reasons (including that Joe is pickier than Maggie and less likely to wear the clothes I make!), but I don't think he can say it now, after I made him two t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and this shirt!

This is the Oliver + s Sketchbook Shirt with some modifications, sewn up in Anna Maria Horner's Loominous Illuminated Graph Glow, which is just the BEST fabric, and very golden with the metallic gold threads running through it! It doesn't photograph well, but it's really quite blingy in person!

I made some modifications to the Sketchbook pattern - fit-wise, I cut it in a size 6 but utilizing the full length of the pattern (size 12 length). This pattern is boxy and short, in my opinion, and although my version is quite long and has room to grow, I much prefer the proportions of the shirt with a lot of length added!

What is that, you ask? Why yes, I did draft a two piece collar (with separate collar stand) for the Sketchbook shirt! The pattern comes with a stand for a mandarin or band collar, or a one piece collar. I've complained in the past that the one piece collar doesn't lie the way I would prefer, so this time I decided to try my luck at drafting a two piece collar. I used the band collar provided in the pattern, and the collar piece to draft a collar. I got stumped when it came to drafting the contour of the bottom of the collar, and spent a lot of time online looking at collar pieces! My first attempt resulted in a collar that was much too narrow, so I tossed that and started over, adding more depth to the collar. I think it turned out pretty nice in the end, although it really did feel like guess work at the time! I'm sure there's a much more "official" way to draft a collar!

I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to do a button down collar on this shirt - I thought that preppy detail would help to tone down the gold bling, and I still think it would look great - but the shape of the collar I drafted would not work for that. I need to go back to the books and figure out different men's collar shapes! Subtle changes make such a difference! As it is, I'm very happy with how this collar looks and I don't think a button down collar would have added much.

Of course, after all that work, Joe let me know that he doesn't particularly like collared shirts with buttons. Because, you know, they are not in a knit fabric, and they touch his neck. (See above re: why I sew more for Maggie!) But he's willing to wear it over another t-shirt, and once it was on he forgot about it. I expect I will be able to convince him to wear this shirt to a few nicer occasions and maybe school pictures.

Note: School pictures for boys turn out so much better if you can get your kid into a collared shirt! They photograph so nicely!

With the grid pattern of this fabric, I put a lot of pieces on the bias - the two front pockets, the buttonhole placket, and the outside (but not lining) yoke piece. Keeping the inside yoke piece on the straight grain helps prevent the bias yoke from stretching out of shape during the sewing process. Of course, I used the "burrito" technique on the yoke, and I also used the instructions from the Grainline Archer Shirt when I was sewing the collar stand to the shirt. She has a confusing to describe but excellent technique for getting the collar stand to match the buttonhole placket exactly.

The hardest thing about this shirt was choosing buttons for it, seriously! I really wanted something casual, because this fabric is really the star of the show and I didn't want it to be over-the-top blingy. But white buttons really just didn't work. I bought wooden buttons for the shirt, but on second thought they looked too big and juvenile on the shirt. So I went back to the store, where a very excellent saleslady at Stonemountain and Daughter understood exactly what I was going for and picked out these tortoise-shell style men's shirt buttons for me. They don't actually match the fabric, color-wise, and I had moments of questioning .... but in the end, they lend a very classic and understated look to the shirt and neither  detract from or overly emphasize the golden-metallic-ness of this fabric. 

Joe was yelling "I love tacos!" during this shot! We live in the land of "taco trucks on every corner," and I'm here to say, it's a pretty good land, haha! Joe's shorts are these ones - Sketchbook Shorts, of course! This is one of the very few times you'll see Joe wearing a whole Sketchbook ensemble!

I love that Joe still loves shiny blingy stuff! And tacos! Even if he is somewhat anti-collar.

Tomorrow I will post Part 2: Maggie's Citronille Patterns Suzanne! Stay tuned!