Saturday, February 11, 2017

Winter sewing.


Hello readers! January got completely away from me! And half of February too! Argh! I made this outfit a while ago, but it took a while to photograph it (badly; winter light does not make for good blog photos!) and here I am, finally blogging it, almost a month later! Ah well.

I haven't been sewing as much as usual lately. During January, I tried to follow the Apartment Therapy "January Cure" and spent a lot of time scrubbing various parts of my house. And bought myself lots of flowers, which was my favorite part. Now it's mid-February, and my life has passed by in a blur of work and night meetings. I am up to my eyeballs in contentious projects and late-night meetings, which is hard, and the state of our national politics sure isn't helping with my mood. My house has completely reverted to its prior disgusting self, and after I get home from work, I find I have no energy for anything except watching escapist TV curled under a heated throw with a beer in hand. I'm strugging to find the energy to crochet a few granny squares before falling asleep with the kids! I blame a heavy workload and the rainy days and long dark nights and, you know, Donald Trump - hopefully the vernal equinox will bring with it new energy and motivation.

We did get a trip up to the mountains in there, though, and that was really fun! It turns out Joe is a born snow kid! He would spend the whole day outside in freezing temperatures sledding and digging and making forts if we let him. Gotta get that kid on the slopes!

Anyway, back to this little sewing project. We've had an unusually cool, wet winter (the drought is over, so that part is good, but the neverending rain and the lake in my crawl space is not so great), and my kids are chronically short on long sleeved mild-winter appropriate clothing. I love putting Maggie in cute little pinafores, or jumpers, as we call them here, so I decided to whip one up in this lovely Kaufman "flamingo" 21-wale corduroy I've had in my stash.

I did a little Pinterest-ing and found this inspiration dress. It has a high bodice/yoke, a front box pleat, and patch pockets. I decided to use the Oliver + S Building Block Dress book to recreate this design. In Building Block terms, I raised the bodice, made the skirt A-line, and added a center-front pleat. I also lowered the neckline and armholes a tad, used bias facing, and added an invisible zipper in the back.


Once I modified the pattern pieces, this was a really easy sew.  After consulting with Liesl and other experts on the Building Blocks Facebook page, I traced the bodice piece first, and cut it off halfway between the shoulder and the bottom of the armhole. Then I A-lined (slashed and spread) the dress. Then I added the center pleat to the front piece. Finally, I drafted the pockets. The resulting shape is very classic and full for a little girl, reminiscent of some school uniforms or an artist's smock. This would also make a cute summer dress in a light fabric!


The finishing on this dress is pretty basic and frankly, not the prettiest.  I used bias binding on the neck and armholes and finished the seams with my serger (a lining in this style would be really nice). I struggled to get the invisible zipper in nicely, and despite multiple tries, it's slightly off.  Sometimes it seems like invisible zippers go in like magic, and you're congratulating yourself and thinking you've finally overcome the dreaded zipper, and other times it's just not easy. This was one of those latter times. It just would not cooperate!


Oh well! I'm the only one who will notice this (well, except you guys, since I pointed it out).


I also made the long sleeved top she's wearing under the dress. This is a Cloud9 organic knit, which is hefty and warm, but doesn't have much stretch. The pattern is from the 1/2014 issue of Ottobre, #11, the "Autumn Forest" top. Because of the lack of stretch in this fabric, I was nervous about doing a neckband, and worried it wouldn't go over Maggie's chunky head very well. So I drafted a little facing instead and used my (STOP THE PRESSES! I GOT A COVERSTITCH MACHINE!) coverstitch to sew it on. It sticks up a bit more than I wanted, I think I need to curve my facing more next time, but it does the job.


I'm still getting the hang of my new coverstich machine, but it does make beautiful, stretchy hems! And so far, it's really easy to thread and use! That surprised me. The only problem is - where do I put all of these machines? My sewing space is now more sewing space than cutting space, and I'm constantly rotating machines around. It's kind of a mess, but it's a pretty fun mess!

So, let's see. I love this t-shirt pattern for Maggie, and I plan to make more for her. It doesn't require much fabric, and the front detail is really sweet. The jumper pattern is perfect, and I would absolutely make more of these for Maggie, with a few minor modifications: real facings instead of bias binding, possibly a lining, and, hopefully, better zipper insertion! But it's such a classic, functional style for a little girl. 


In kid news, Joe got his hair cut in January, and hates it. I don't know if it's the appearance of the haircut (which is totally cute, BTW) or the feeling of air on his scalp and ears that bugs him most. He has been wearing a hat 24/7 since then. Ay yai yai! What's funny is that I used to struggle to get him to wear a hat on cold or sunny days, and now he won't take it off! He even sleeps in a hat. I have to switch it out occasionally to wash it. This child! I wish he would let us all see his cute head! But at least his ears are warm. I thought for sure that his teacher would lay down the law and make him take it off at school, but Joe convinced her that he NEEDED the hat. SIGH!!!!

Maggie, as you can see, is still obsessed with Catwings! She's a flying kitty here.

I cut out a bunch of Ottobre patterns for Maggie, so hopefully I'll be blogging again soon! Thanks for reading!  Have you ever had a kid go on a haircut strike? Or wear a hat 24/7?  I feel like I'm living in a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book. This chapter is "Won't-Take-His-Hat-Off-Itis."

13 comments:

  1. Oh Inder, it is always so wonderful to read a blog post from you! Gosh, I hear ya on Donald Trump! It just feels like our entire nation in on edge right now - and for good reason. Also, yes on the zippers, too! I have that exact same experience! Maggie looks as joyful and full of life as ever in her new mama mades. And Joe in that hat! <3 I'm glad you captured a photo of that!

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    1. Ah, yes, the hat!! I know I'll laugh about this hat thing one of these days ... !

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  2. A good read. Poor February, we try so hard to brighten it up with Valentine's Day, but winter is just wearing thin for so many of us. I love the dress and the kids are just darling.

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  3. Oh, and something that I wanted to add about politics now and being concerned. It's GOOD that you are concerned, and believe me, I am too. I'm a politically active person, as is my family. But I do want to say to all the moms of young children out there how important it is to keep up your own spirits. I was a military spouse during the first Gulf War, and my husband's unit was involved in retraining those guard units that hadn't done sufficient training (How the world has changed!) And then he would be sent to the Gulf. I had four small ones at home and I was GLUED to the twenty-four hours news cycle. Well, I got sick. I exhausted myself with worry and got sick. So, moms (and I'm not directing this at you, Inder), regardless of where you come down on the issues today: Yes, it's important to be politically and socially active. Your children's lives count on it. But it's also important to stay healthy and in a positive frame of mind for those kids. You already have your mission. Stay strong and try to find the joy. Which you have already, right there in your lap. :)

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    1. A friend of mine recently said "self-care is political" and another friend, Rachel, who posted above, recently quoted Mother Theresa: "what can you do for world peace? go home and love your family." Both comments have been often on my mind this past month! My kids are healthy and happy, and that's the most important thing.

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  4. Aww Maggie! I love the pinafore and the little top. And the hugging-brother-accessory!
    I'm with you on the idea of facings. I used to be all 'bias bind all the necklines and armholes'! But I'm starting to feel like I can do better. I'm rather liking the topstitched neck facing these days. I can't abide flippy flappy facings you have to tuck in all the time but I have a growing appreciation of the smooth lines of non-bias-tape finishes.
    A big sympathetic 'ugh' about the US political situation. If I try to say much more it's basically endless, so... ugh.
    On a brighter note, coverstitch! I hope you love yours a whole lot more than I do mine! (Should muster enthusiasm to give it another chance.)

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    1. So far, I'm really loving the coverstitch, but I am still trying to see how the hems, which I haven't been knotting or finishing at all, hold up in the wash. So far so good!

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  5. Coverstitch machine - that sounds exciting! We must spoil ourselves a little in these grim times :) I love the dress you drafted; such a sweet style. And while I can see how Joe's constant wearing of a hat might be annoying, he does look rather cute in it!

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    1. Hi Marisa!! The coverstitch is pretty awesome! I am happy with my 40th birthday present - Steve offered me jewelry and I was like, meh, but you know what I DO want? He's a good husband, encouraging me in my hobby and never complaining about the fabric taking over our house (well, he complains very rarely). :-) I highly recommend the Janome coverstitch machines if you feel the need to spoil yourself.

      He's still wearing the hat! It's kind of annoying but I know him - he just digs his heels in if he senses opposition, so I'm trying to be all, "no bigs, whatever" about it. It's hard!! He does look cute anyway, though.

      The dress was fun to make!! And I love Maggie in little jumpers too.

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  6. I almost never sew with knits because my only machine, a regular sewing machine, doesn't work well with knits. I've been thinking about getting a serger, and now you've introduced me to the idea of a coverstitch machine. Which one should I get? (If and when I bite the bullet and augment my sewing contraptions.)

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    1. Hi Evelyn!! So nice to see you here! Definitely start with a serger. That will get you going with knits. There are various ways to hem knits on a regular sewing machine, and in some instances you can forego hemming entirely (sew on cuffs and a hem band, and you're done!). The Brother 1034D that everyone has is a great deal and mine is still chugging after six years.

      The coverstitch is purpose-made for hemming knits. They are a bit pricey (I asked for mine for my 40th birthday in lieu of any jewelry or other big gift). It's not something you need, but it does up your knit game pretty significantly. Still, I hemmed knits with a simple zig zag for years, no problem.

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  7. Maggie is so cute in her new jumper! I love the leggings, long sleeved tee, and jumper combination. It's the perfect little girl outfit. Joe is still such a handsome guy, even with the hat. My oldest son wears this fuzzy Angry Birds baseball cap all the time. It drives me bonkers. He isn't sleeping in it yet, but I think that's only because you can't exactly sleep in a baseball cap.

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    1. Me too, Teri!! It's one of my favorite styles for a little girl.

      You don't know how glad I am to hear that Joe is not the only kid who wears a hat all the time. This kid, he can dig in his heels like you wouldn't believe. I've come to realize that his stubbornness is far greater than my stubbornness, so I can never win in a battle of wills. So I am taking the whole "sure, wear your hat all the time, it won't hurt anyone" approach and hoping he grows out of it. Or his hair grows out. Or whatever, he wears a hat until his dying day, and still no one is hurt! Hahahhhhhaaaaa. Motherhood.

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