Friday, September 29, 2017

School Photo: Oliver + s Buttoned-Up Button-Down.


Hi everyone! After finishing Maggie's Class Picnic outfit, I decided to make Joe another collared shirt to wear for his upcoming school picture. I was planning to use the Sketchbook Shirt  pattern, as I did last year (making shirts two years in a row: is this becoming a tradition?), but before I had a chance to get started, the new Oliver + s pattern, the Buttoned-Up Button-Down, was released! The timing could not have been more perfect (except that I didn't have enough time to wait for a paper pattern to arrive and had to download it, so I guess it could have been a tiny bit more perfect? but I'm not complaining). It has all the details I've been not-so-subtly bugging Liesl to include for years: a separate collar band and collar, tower plackets, more pocket options. As soon as I saw the new design, it was a case of "you can't take my money fast enough." Last friday morning when it came out it was like, BOOM. Downloaded and sent to the printer. Okay, now I can put my clothes on and go to work.

Liesl has mentioned in the past that boys' patterns don't sell as well as girls' dresses, and sewing for both a boy and a girl, I intuitively understand this. There is just more variety in girls' patterns, and dresses are fun and easy to sew. Whereas boys' patterns tend to be more basic, and more similar to each other. And perhaps not as ruffly or exciting in the cover art. In our culture, boys and men are more conformist or "normcore" in their dressing. But as a long time boy-clothes sewer, I also know that this is the big draw of boy's sewing. Because the styles aren't as varied and involved, the subtle details tend to shine more: the colors and fabrics and accents take center stage. There is something really enjoyable about sewing understated, classic styles with fun details.



And although Joe would prefer to wear t-shirts, knit shorts/pants, and sweatshirts every single day (and this is exactly what he normally does), he looks insanely handsome in a proper shirt. The issue, as always with Joe, is making him something that is comfortable enough to wear more than a couple days. He's always been, ahem, insanely picky about clothes. He's not a big fan of woven fabrics, full stop. He prefers soft knit fabrics. And he's definitely not a fan of collars. Especially in woven fabrics. So getting Joe to actually wear a button down shirt can be a challenge.



With that in mind, I chose a Lecien double gauze for this shirt. I bought this fabric last year, I believe, and I honestly don't remember where. At first, I remembered A Verb for Getting Warm, but now I'm wondering if it was Imagine Gnats? I don't know! It's not on either of those websites now, although I found a different colorway here. Anyway, it's very soft and pillowy stuff, and I definitely bought it with a (short sleeved) shirt for Joe in mind. I was hoping it would be very soft on his skin. I was delighted when I was able to squeeze a long sleeved shirt out of this piece, which cannot have been much more than two yards, since I find double gauze is cool when it's hot, but quite cozy when it's cold. Plus, I wanted to try those tower plackets.

Of course, sewing this pattern with a very poofy and soft fabric like double gauze (or flannel) means that you may not be able to get crisp points or details like you would in a shirting fabric, so my tower plackets ended up a bit soft, but that doesn't bother me. I found this fabric easy to sew and the print makes it very forgiving.


Okay, so let's talk pattern details, shall we? Given that I was using a quite thick double gauze with a busy print, I opted to make View A, the simpler dress shirt option. After measuring Joe's chest and waist and the desired shirt length I cut this out in a size 6. Joe is 8, but he is average in his class of mostly 7 year olds and wears size 6 in RTW clothes. The size six is perfect in terms of hem length for my tastes, and the sleeves are amply long on Joe.

My one little nit? I do feel like this shirt is a bit wide in Joe's shoulders. After looking at the shirt on the pattern testers, it seems like the shirt is intended to be a bit wide in the shoulders, but it seems especially wide on Joe. If I make this again I may reduce the width somewhat. If a pattern is intended to have a dropped shoulder, usually the top of the sleeve has a shallower curve and less easing than this sleeve. So I think I would prefer it closer to the natural shoulder line. But I wouldn't want to go down much in overall size because the neck fits perfectly on this shirt. I must read up on narrow shoulder adjustments! That said, I think this is one of those issues that only I will notice.

As always, the instructions in this pattern are excellent, and Liesl walks you through all of the steps carefully. I like her technique for attaching the neckband/collar and cuffs. This was really a lot of fun to sew, and although I was on a short timeline, I enjoyed the process and finished it in time for school photos!

I admit, when I put this on Joe, I freaked out a little bit. IT LOOKS SO GOOD!! I was totally proud of this make, and made all the adults in the household admire it, possibly more than once! And then I posted a rant about how awesome it turned out, and how gorgeous my kid is, to my Facebook sewing group (thank goodness these are good friends!). I was MIGHTILY PLEASED WITH MYSELF, seriously! Button down shirts are a lot of work, and not the fastest project, but the pride I feel when I finish a shirt full of awesome, profesh, shirt-y details? Priceless.

How does Joe like it? Well, he enjoyed the photo shoot!






It seems that he can move quite well in this shirt, thank you very much!

And he happily wore the shirt (over a plain white t-shirt) for school photo day, and didn't take it off until he got home (even though it was a really hot day!). And I never heard a peep about the collar bugging him. So I'm considering this a win! Whether he'll wear it without me specifically requesting it remains to be seen.

(He's wearing his shirt with these Sketchbook Shorts, which I made last year and still fit great. The piping on the pockets and the drawstring totally coordinate with this shirt and the mustard and teal look amazing next to each other.)


Just look at that face! Just say the word, kid. I am putty in your hands! I know, I know, the shirt is fine, but it's all about the model, right? Unfortunately for my future career as Hollywood child model mom, Joe is too shy to do this professionally.



But don't worry, there was plenty of this too. He is 8 years old, after all.


If you have boys and you haven't sewn them a button down shirt recently, I heartily recommend this pattern! The ego-boost you will get is amazing, and of course, if they like it too, that's just gravy.

What are you sewing these days?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

First day of Class (Picnic).


Hello everyone! I skipped August on this blog! Ugh! I've been having some issues with sew-jo lately, with too many WIPs and a fabric stash that is weighing me down instead of inspiring me. It's no good when your hobby becomes an obligation, know what I mean? And the hot weather definitely hasn't helped. I am trying to get back into it, knock off some of those WIPs, and get my inspiration back.

Although I haven't been sewing as much, it has been a great summer. I've been learning string figures, spending lots of time gardening, and we all really enjoyed the kid's summer break this year.

This blouse has been a long time in the making, at least mentally. I've wanted to make another gingham Class Picnic blouse for Maggie for a couple of years. I've made her three Class Picnic blouses over the years, and two of them were gingham, also with piping (here and here - look at baby Maggie!). This pattern SCREAMS to be made in gingham, I say. I picked up this lovely, very lightweight cotton gingham a year or so ago, I can't remember where - maybe Britex? It is such lovely, soft stuff. I'm sure I had this blouse in mind.

But I've also been plotting something else for several years - a gingham blouse with chicken scratch embroidery. Chicken scratch is a type of embroidery that is traditionally worked over gingham. It's also called gingham lace because, when it's worked in all white, it looks very lacy. I got totally obsessed with chicken scratch a year or two ago; I'm not sure what started it, but it took over my apron and handwork Pinterest boards! Chicken scratch was popular during the Depression and the 40s, and was frequently used to decorate gingham aprons. It is a counted-stitched embroidery (like cross stitch), worked over the natural grid formed by yarn-dyed gingham.

My specific inspiration for this blouse was this gorgeous Class Picnic blouse made by Spicy Jellybean Kids (check out her blog! it doesn't seem to be kept up, but her sewing is gorgeous! ETA: Find her at @spicyjellybeankids on IG!) I've been thinking about that blouse for a long time!


I chose a different design for Maggie's blouse: pink and green flowers over a field of white "stars." I copied the pattern from this pin, and I knew the pink flowers would help Maggie to accept the non-pinkness of the fabric. The stars actually hold the flowers. This is a really fun (and fast!) type of embroidery to stitch, and the embroidery took a leisurely day or two to work. I applied some woven interfacing to the back of the embroidery in hopes that it would make it a little sturdier, and the white piping further stabilizes the yoke. My experience with the Class Picnic blouse is that the front neckline can get saggy because it's partially on the bias (worse if you put the actual yoke fabric on the bias, as I did with my prior gingham Class Picnic blouses. A little bit of piping and perhaps a woven lining or twill tape stabilizes that gentle curve.


This is a size 3T, with no changes or alterations, on (tiny) five year old Maggie. I like that this top has some extra length and will hopefully fit for a while yet.

The end result is sweet - yes, a bit twee - and I love it! The great thing about the Class Picnic is that it's really a sweet little peasant top, but with just a little bit of structure. It is one of my favorite Oliver + S patterns, for sure.


With the pattern out, I couldn't resist tracing and cutting out some Class Picnic shorts to coordinate. I've seen several versions of these on blogs and Instagram this summer in all one fabric, and I was reminded how much I love this pattern. So I quickly whipped up a pair in Robert Kaufman union chambray. In size 3T, this pattern takes less than a half yard of fabric, I think. I love it!


I added a pink ribbon bow as decoration (again, everything needs some pink!) and to help Maggie tell the front from the back when dressing. Full disclosure: Maggie was initially disappointed that these shorts don't have pockets, but she seems to have gotten over it now.


Maggie started her last year of preschool today and had a great day! Both of my kids are back in school now, but I refuse to let go of summer until at least the autumn equinox! My garden is pumping out tomatoes and cucumbers with no end in sight, and September tends to be one of our best months for warm weather. So I predict these warm-weather clothes will get a bit more wear before they're put away for the winter. I hope I can find the time to make her these blouses every year, because I love this pattern!

Are you still sewing summer things? Is your fabric stash getting you down? Dish.