Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ottobre Mini-Wardrobe, Joe Edition.

After Maggie's mini-wardrobe, I immediately cut out an Ottobre mini-wardrobe for Joe.  As you will recall, all fabrics are from my super-swollen knit stash. Joe is super sensitive about clothing textures and really only wears soft knit fabrics (le sigh), so his daily wardrobe basically consists of t-shirts and sweatpants or loose shorts. When I cut everything out, it was still basically winter. Since then, spring has arrived and the weather is warming up! (Joe also stopped wearing a hat all the time, YAY!) Time for Joe's summer mini-wardrobe of short sleeved shirts and shorts already?

On the bright side, it is easy to sew for Joe! He is a reasonably appreciative audience and wears me-mades that meet his stringent tactile requirements frequently. But on the other hand, it can feel boring, sewing the same things over and over again. I think this is the challenge of sewing for boys, at least for me - it can get a little boring or unchallenging at times! Enjoying sewing for boys requires that you appreciate subtle differences and details, whereas girls' clothes can be as splashy as you'd like.

This is one of the best things about Ottobre magazines - the cute boy patterns. Somehow, Ottobre includes basic t-shirt and knit pants patterns in every single issue, but always with some fun twist or details that raise it to "Euro cool" rather than "same old same old."

This spring mini-wardrobe consists of three t-shirts (from two patterns, 1/2017 #16 "Raw Edge Details" and 6/2015 #15, "Steampunk," and two pairs of the "Super Basic" sweatpants  (6/2016 #12). You can look at old issues of Ottobre here. All of the patterns were cut in a straight size 122, which fit Joe perfectly with room to grow and move.

Incidentally, for a long time I thought Ottobre patterns were a bit short and wide on Joe, but we seem to have hit a sweet spot where he fits the size perfectly. Joe is almost eight years old, wears a RTW size 6 in pants, and is average height (50%) but has a longer torso and shorter legs relative to RTW sizes. For a taller boy, you would probably want to add length to these pants.

Everything was pretty easy and straightforward to sew, and my coverstitch machine got a good workout. I think I'm finally learning how to sew SLOWLY with the coverstitch. It wants to zoom through everything, and it's hard to slow it down! I've now rethreaded it over and over and I'm feeling more comfortable with it. So far, it's very unfussy and easy to use, easier than the serger. And I do love the results.

First, let's talk about the "Raw Edge Details" t-shirt, which is in the most recent issue of Ottobre. This pattern features a fun raw edged neckband that allows a contrast neckband to show just at the edge. So I will say, I'm a little mixed about this detail and wondered if it just looked "home sewn," but Joe is a FAN. The comfort level is great and I'm noticing he tends to fidget less with this neckline than the standard type.  After a few washes, the jersey will curl up and I think it will look more intentional. In the meantime, it definitely gets Joe's "sensory seal of approval," and I like that the finish uses up small scraps of the contrasting fabric!

In terms of fit through the body, this is my new favorite t-shirt for Joe. I love the slouchy, slightly boxy fit on him. Joe likes it when I put a pocket on his shirts, because it helps him distinguish front from back without scratchy tags. This shirt has a basic, square patch pocket on the front that can be in a contrast fabric, which is always fun. 

The fabric for the blue star t-shirt was leftover from this project.  This is an European jersey and the quality is really exceptional. I often balk at the price of high quality jersey, but when I actually buy said jersey, I have to say, I rarely regret it! In some things, you get what you pay for, and knit fabrics seem to be one of those things. The stripes are a rayon knit from Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. I couldn't find this one on their website but I noticed that Imagine gnats now has this fabric as well! Although I don't normally use rayon knits for the kids, this one feels pretty substantial and sewed up pretty easily. We'll see how it holds up in the wash!

The third t-shirt is the "Steampunk" pattern from 6/2015. This t-shirt has a cool "saddle" raglan neckline and bands at the cuffs and hem. I sewed this up in Joe's favorite colors - blue and green. I think both of these fabrics are Kaufman Laguna knits. I used the same pocket as the "Raw Edge Details" shirts and used the same raw edge finish on the neck (but with only one band of green). This turned out .... so so. I would probably say "this is not my best work," but I know Joe will wear it plenty anyway! I also wasn't as thrilled with the fit of this t-shirt as I was with the Raw Edge Details pattern, but it's pretty good and the cuffs and hemband make this is a great project for someone who does not like hemming knits. I also think this pattern would make a great sweatshirt with a more substantial knit fabric.

Now let's talk about these fantastic sweatpants, shall we? I puffy heart this "Super Basic" knit pants pattern. There are simple rib knit pocket openings, and rib knit is used to make the drawstring. The pattern calls for grommets, but I can't seem to install a decent grommet to save my life, so I made small buttonholes instead.

There's a cute rounded pocket on the back (Steve raised his eyebrows at this outfit, but I reassured him that Joe was unlikely to wear these two pieces together very often), and the waist is simply folded down and stitched. I put elastic through the waist, and the ribbing is also in two pieces with elastic holding it together in the back, so the drawstring is more decorative than functional.

And the fit!!! Is so good, right?!  This first pair of sweatpants uses the leftovers from yet another project, a very soft navy sweatshirt fleece. I was thinking that these would be too long, since Joe's legs are a big short for his size, so for this pair, I turned the hems up and inserted elastic into them. They turned out a tad short (but totally cute!) so I opted to use ribbing at the ankles of my second pair as provided by the pattern. 

I didn't get many detailed shots of the second pair. These are made of the same wonderful and well-behaved hemp/cotton french terry I used for this sweatshirt (which has held up extremely well in the wash, btw - this fabric is the bomb!), with gray ribbing details and a plain self-fabric back pocket.

The length of these pants is perfect with the ankle band. 

 Joe signalled his approval of these pants by running around and doing ninja moves.

Yeah, I think these will work!! Ha!

By the way, check out our backyard! As I mentioned last autumn, we had some serious work done to grade and improve the drainage in our backyard last year, and we have a new (flat!) lawn area and a new gorgeous patio (terraced!). We are installing all new landscaping ourselves, so it's still really "in progress." Steve installed those lattice screens, to create a separate "room" in the back of the garden, and to screen the storage shed we are planning to put in. We have had SUCH a wet winter here in Northern California, everything is still a bit soggy, but the lawn is really happy! Anyway, it will hopefully be an epic gardening year for us!

We have additional house projects lined up. We need a new roof, for starters. We actually got the estimate last year, and we were set to have the work done this winter, but the heavy rains delayed the roofers so much that we are still way down in the queue! After the roof is done, I want to have the exterior of the house repainted. I'm tired of looking at old, peeling paint. Big projects! 

Joe turns eight next month! He's finishing up first grade and doing fantastically. His reading fluency seems to improve every day, and he reads outloud to us every night (I also read outloud to both kids every night, usually one or two picture books as well as a longer chapter book). He isn't yet reading books independently to himself yet, but he's getting there and can read most signage and captions himself now. He obviously takes pleasure in being able to read, which is wonderful to see! His favorite book is My Father's Dragon.

Joe is really helpful and agreeable these days (although he still has a stubborn streak like you wouldn't believe - I don't even bother to engage in battles of wills with this kid anymore, I know I can only lose!), and continues to dote on his little sister. These early grade school years are really wonderful. His current obsessions include Minecraft, Mario, and Pokemon. I have to drag him away from screentime to do things outdoors, but once he's outside, he is always happy! He asks the best questions and is just such a kind, smart kid. Although he's definitely a shy, reserved kid, his teacher loves him and he has a couple of buddies at school, so my mama-heart is happy and at peace. My mom told me that these "latency" years were great, and she was so right!

As far as sewing goes, I desperately need to make some simple, basic things for myself next! Sewing t-shirts for myself is also a little boring, but really necessary as I have officially worn out a lot of my me-mades. Hopefully I'll be back here with some selfish sewing shortly.

What are you working on right now? Do you find you sew less during prime gardening season? How do you feel about boy sewing?


  1. Oh I really love those raw-edge necklines! Actually I think they're quite a 'RTW'-looking touch. I find it hard to get excited about boy sewing - just the basics thanks mum :D. But the incredible amount of wear most things get makes it worthwhile in the end. I feel like it's time to get my overlocker working again on some more knits for all of us. Everyone's probably going to need long sleeved tees for the winter, and I sure need more leggings. Yawn.
    Isn't it magic when your kids start to read independently? Jasper adored My Father's Dragon as well.

  2. I really like the raw-edge collar and have owned RTW tees in the past that featured that detail, so it definitely doesn't scream "homemade" to me. Those pants - 😍. They are a perfect fit and I love the pocket detail.

    I really enjoy sewing basics (and actually my oldest boy is in dire need of all summer things so I will be doing just that soon). I find it so satisfying when the clothes I sew is n heavy rotation.

    And finally, YES on the high-quality, expensive knots. I am a cheapskate but cheap knits are such a waste of money. Though I did just fall prey to them again whilst searching on eBay for very specific jersey colors for my spring sewing plans. Most of it is crap.

  3. Joe's mini wardrobe looks so fantastic and comfy! I don't think the raw edge neckbands look home seen at all -- I love them! Reiko has a cute little store-bought t-shirt with a similar treatment, and whenever she wears it, I think that I should copy it for something.

    Also, your back yard is looking beautiful! I'm super envious of your healthy lawn. 😆

  4. Aw, this was a great post. I do appreciate Ottobre's attention to the boys' stuff and they do come up with lots of nice takes on wearable basics. The clothes you made are lovely and your post was so nice and newsy about Joe! He and Rowan would totally be friends.

  5. No, not home made, very Surf Shop.
    Joe looks super and I appreciated the update on your yard. It looks great.
    I am glad he is happy at school. As a mum to fairly quirky offspring I always feel drawn to other fabulous individuals.

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