Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bath Time!

Mr. T's birthday was last month and he wanted a bath robe. I'd been thinking of making him one since the winter 2011 issue of Ottobre had robes in it but hadn't gotten around to it. A birthday present is always a good excuse for making something, and it was a change from the other things I'd been working on.

This pattern calls for the robe to be made up in 2 different fabrics, with the outer layer being a poplin or other similar woven fabric and the inner layer being made of flannel. Flannel is okay if you're looking for a warm robe but doesn't work so well for absorbing water when you get out of the bath. I decided to make the inner layer out of terry cloth so it would be more useful as an after-bath garment. The good thing about this pattern is that the lining isn't made to be sewn right sides together and then turned - the robes are constructed as 2 separate pieces, with the hood also being separate, then putting them together so that the hood is sandwiched between the 2 layers but the wrong sides of the 2 layers are together. Which means that you need to finish the edges with a bias binding or else you're left with raw edges. Of course, this enables you to use a fun contrasting fabric.

I used a cotton woven from JoAnn's in a rocket ship print that Mr. T chose himself. Actually, he carried that darn bolt of fabric all over the store and didn't want to let go of it, until Scott handed me the bolt and took the boy out to the car. The blue cotton terry also came from JoAnn's. The bias binding is red with a white star print, left over from the girls' Delft dresses from 2 years ago. I also used it for the pocket, one side of the belt and as belt loops - the pattern doesn't call for belt loops but without them you'd have to sew the belt on at the back, and I wasn't willing to sew through the terry layer to do that.
Here's a shot of one of the belt loops:

This was remarkably easy to do, although the bias binding is slightly time consuming. This pattern seems to either run small or my son is extremely large for his age (I've been told this on more than one occasion) because this is a size 104 and it fits perfectly. Normally he wears a 98 but I know from experience that European robes always seem to be shorter than the ones you find in the U.S., and I wanted to be sure it would fit, especially since the terry was thicker than the suggested flannel. Also, the hood is shallower than one might expect.

As you can see from the first photo, he's incredibly happy with it and he wears it prior to and immediately after every bath or shower, which is a bit unexpected.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tutti Frutti

A quick little post about a shirt I made for Gwyn for Christmas. This is the Imke shirt from "Sewing Clothes Kids Love", with the pieced bodice. I actually threw this together after I bought her a pair of pants for a Christmas gift and felt like it needed something to go with it. So I dove into the stash and found these 2 fabrics, both purchased from Fabric Fairy about a year ago. These are really nice weight cotton-lycra knits and I think they're from Flapdoodles, but I could be wrong. The ribbing at the neck is orange and red Campan knit by Hilco that is leftover from a piece that I scored on ebay and used to make the dinosaur shirt for Tallon. I felt like it needed a little contrast and the orange was just the right pop against the aqua background.

Of course, I couldn't just leave it un-embellished - this was for my girl who loves all the extras and likes to go through my stash of iron-ons, patches, ribbon, etc. to pick out the right stuff. I felt like the fruits needed to be somewhere else besides the bodice, so I cut out some of the shapes and fused them to felt, then stitched around them to be on the safe side. Then I cut out the felt and sewed the shapes to the sleeves as though they were patches - 3 on the left sleeve and 1 on the right.

I added some Farbenmix ribbon "Helga and Friends" to the right sleeve before I sewed on the fruit patch; I only used it on one sleeve because I don't always like things to be balanced, design-wise. It makes it more interesting. On the left sleeve I used a yellow and orange flower patch that I had in my stash and, of course, there is the obligatory Farbenmix label on the right sleeve. I love how this turned out and so does Miss G.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mr. Green + Jeans

It never fails to amaze me how many pairs of pants Mr. T actually needs. It took me forever to work my way through the SWAP I was doing for him, and I'm still working my way through it. These pants are both made from the same pattern, just in different fabrics.

This pattern is from the Fall 2005 issue of Ottobre, the #15 jeans/velveteen pants, in size 98. Let me say that this style is an extremely wide leg, so if you don't like that style of pant, this is probably not one you'll like. I like the knee patches and unique pockets on it, as well as the fact that it has an elastic waist, which makes them easy for the boy, since he doesn't have to struggle with a zipper when he has to use the potty. Funnily enough, the wide leg comes in handy for that, too, since he does better without pants around his ankles and I find that with these pants I can slip one leg out without having to remove a shoe. So much better in a public bathroom, right?

"Treasure pocket" made from contrasting color.
Anyway, these are made up in a kiwi-green brush denim that is an unusual color but it works really well with a lot of the things I've made in the SWAP. There is dark brown topstitching on the pockets and seams, including the knee patches. On this pair I chose to use a different fabric for the little "treasure pocket" on the left knee patch; I used tan-grey denim left over from the knight jeans that he outgrew. The cool thing with the pockets is that you only need to finish one side and the bottom, as the outer side is inserted into the side seam of the pants.

Back view
The second pair from this pattern was made from blue denim with brown pin-stripes. The magazine shows a denim version of these pants which uses the wrong side of the denim for the knee patches as a contrast. I didn't really like the wrong side of the denim, but I decided to jazz things up by alternating the direction of the stripes  on the knee patches, as well as on the back pocket and hip areas. I like things colorful, too, so I decided to use a red thread for the topstitching. I love the way this turned out.

This is an easy pattern to put together, although the stitching on the pockets and the knee patches is time consuming. You could just as easily eliminate the knee patches and the decorative stitching on the pockets though, and just have a basic wide-legged pant. I did have one problem with the instructions and that was with the waistband. I just didn't get it. I made the green version first and tried to follow the instructions but it just didn't work for me. I thought maybe I was tired and I looked at them again in the morning and no, still not working out. I decided to just serge the edge with the seam allowance, then attach the waistband, so that the served edge would be on the inside. This way you end up seeing the edge but it's not unfinished. The instructions call for the inside edge to be turned under but I seemed to not have enough fabric left. Perhaps my elastic was too wide, owing to the fact that it doesn't come in metric here in the U.S. That would explain it. In any event, I love the way these turned out and they look adorable on him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

T-Shirts for Mr. T

I mentioned before that I'd traced some Ottobre patterns and by the time I got around to cutting them out, he'd grown enough that they wouldn't fit for long. I figured this out by cutting out the shirt you see above. This is the #12 shirt from the 4/2010 issue. I'd traced and cut it out in a 92 and sewed it up, only to discover that T. had grown enough for it to be rather snug on him. The shirt is supposed to look like two in one, with the hood in a contrasting fabric, so I dug up some brown and red Campan knit from a previous shirt I'd made him and used that for the hood. I'd already used olive green ribbing because it goes so well with the Ooga print but it didn't look good with the brown and red, so I went with the maroon ribbing on the hood. It definitely gives the impression of two different shirts, although it's obvious from the fit that it's just one.

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Here you can see the front pocket a bit better, although it still blends into the body of the shirt. I used the triple-honeycomb stitch on my machine to imitate a RTW coverstitch. Anyway, it works well and I used the same stitch when I made the drawstrings for the sweatpants in the previous post.
Having realized that the boy needed a 98, I cut out new sizes for him in 2 other shirts. The first is the Hippotamus Hoppulainen shirt from the 6/2010 issue. I like this shirt because I think it lends itself to a mix of fabrics while still looking sporty and boyish. For this I used the Michael Miller dinosaur interlock and a piece of orange and red Campan knit. That Michael Miller stuff shrinks like nobody's business and it's super soft! Maybe that's why it shrinks so? Anyway, the ribbing is a beautiful turquoise from JoAnn's. I wish it were slightly more green in color but I like the contrast of the turquoise with the orange.

This piece of Campan was really small - not even a half meter, so I had to really work to fit all the pieces when I laid it out. As you can see, I used the stripe for the front, back and the stripes on the sleeves. This shirt goes really well with the brown sweatpants in the previous post.

Last shirt in the list is the Pistachio-Chocolate reversible hoodie from the 4/2009 issue. I wanted something to match the blue sweatpants and dug out a printed stripe knit that I'd used for outfits for the girls about 4 years ago. I'd used it for an accent to a print, but it seemed like a good boy fabric. Then I dug around in my stash and found the world's softest navy cotton knit this side of paradise - totally serious about this. I want to curl up in it. Anyway, add to that some olive green interlock and some maroon ribbing and you get this:

I decided that I wanted the pocket and hood on the stripe side to match - hence the decision to do both in green. I used that tripe-honeycomb stitch again for the pocket hems and as topstitching on the sleeve hems. The navy side would have been too plain with a navy hood, hence the stripe. T. loves this shirt and wears it a lot with either pair of the navy "soft pants". It's his "cozy" outfit. I haven't gotten him to wear it with the navy side out - I suspect he likes the way it feels against his skin too much. But it would look fantastic on the navy side with the sleeves rolled to expose the stripe on the other side. This shirt is pretty heavy and he gets hot pretty easily, so I don't have him wear a shirt under it, though you could if you used thinner knits, as it's cut quite roomy. My only problem with this shirt is that I forgot how much the stripe fades, since it's not yarn-dyed but printed. Ugh. But he doesn't seem to mind and it gives it a sort of worn-in look that is generally achieved in RTW with acid washes and the like.

Boy oh boy!

I seem to have been remiss in blogging the many things I made for my son this fall/winter. So. Much. Stuff. So let's jump in.

Starting off with the pants:

This is, unfortunately, a pair of jeans that Mr. T rapidly outgrew. These are the "Rock Me" baby jeans from the 3/2009 issue of Ottobre, made in a really cool mottled grey and tan denim, with accents of khaki and white star print. The back pockets are embellished with Farbenmix knights ribbon, for a bit of pizzazz. The denim came from and the ribbon came from etsy. I have to say that while this pattern is cute, it doesn't leave much room at all for growing. Had I known that I probably would have chosen something different. Alas, it's too late now. Maybe I'll have another boy and get some more use out of these. As it is, I had him wear them until they started to look ridiculously short before I put them in storage. I love how the characters on the ribbon look like the drawings from the book "The Princess Knight".

Next up, sweat pants or "soft pants", as my son likes to call them. As in,"Mommy, you make me soft pants???" My husband is afraid T. will grow up to wear track suits like the guys from the Sopranos, but right now he's all about being cozy and I'm all about the pants being easy to get on and off.

These are made from the same pattern, City Mouse sweatpants from the 4/2011 issue of Ottobre. I had traced a 92 but realized that he'd grown and wasn't going to be able to wear them very long, so I decided to trace up a size. This was a bit awkward, since the pattern only went up to a 92. I used a method from Teri's blog, Mermaids and it worked really well. I plan to use this for other items that I need to size up 1 size. Anyway, the brown pants are brown stretch French terry from Sewzanne's, with striped ribbing from the Ottobre shop on etsy. A very good deal, since you buy a meter but then can divide it up and get different colors. I got orange and brown, as well as orange and linden green and orange and light blue. The second pair is from a really heavy-weight non-stretch cotton sweatshirt knit that I got at JoAnn's. I also got the maroon ribbing there. The drawstrings for both pairs is cotton rib knit that I had in my stash. The third pair (pictured at the top) is the same navy but I had to piece the legs in order to have enough fabric. The green ribbing is also from JoAnn's.

Next up, shirts but I'll do that in a separate post.

Cherry Blossoms

So I've written about the Beignet skirt that I dreamed about, only to screw up when I made the decision not to make a muslin. Never again. But what I didn't say in that post was that I'd already made a top to go with it. More to the point, I'd matched the red wool to a red in the rayon knit I used for the top perfectly, and I'd had these visions of a wonderful birthday dinner wearing my new outfit.

I should backtrack and tell you that I'd been ogling the Hot Patterns website for years and finally decided that I wanted to try them. I'd kind of stopped buying patterns for myself when I came across their website for the first time, because I was focusing on sewing for Maeve. But I've been trying to get back into sewing for myself and I wanted something hipper than the average pattern. had really good prices on some of the older patterns by HP, so I ordered a few from them and this is the first I tried - the Plain and Simple Boy-Leg Body, the faux surplice v-neck version with long sleeves. Then I scoured the web and found this lovely rayon-lycra jersey in a cherry blossom print on etsy.

The instructions were limited, but easy to follow and I only have 2 complaints about this pattern: 1) Some of the pattern pieces didn't print properly. This was fixed fairly easily with a ruler and pencil but I still wonder if I made the pieces the right width (they were straight, so fairly easy to reproduce). 2) There are really no instructions for applying the elastic other than the directive to apply it. Yes, I could have googled it, but I was sort of lazy and just wanted to get it done. I'll have to research methods for future projects, but since this is something you wear with a bottom garment, the wonkiness of the elastic in this one is really not an issue. You learn from your mistakes, right?

I only made 2 changes to the garment construction and they didn't involve pattern modification at all. The first was that I chose to topstitch the band on the neckline so that it would lie flat when worn. I just used a straight stitch for this, since I'm unlikely to be extremely rough on this top it should be fine. The other change was that I used stay-tape on the crotch openings when I applied the snaps, since I felt that the stress on that area of the garment indicated a need for reinforcement. This jersey is not super thick and the snaps are pretty darn strong so I wanted to avoid any holes in the fabric from using the snaps.

All in all, not bad, although I think I'll have to make some carriers for my bra straps so that the shoulders don't slip down over them. But I can do that by hand, so no problem. And I think that if I make this again I'll use something a bit firmer - this rayon jersey is super stretchy and stretches easily, so I find it slipping down at the v-neck, which usually ends up in someone getting an eyeful of my cleavage. I don't mind so much if it's my husband but the preschool teacher doesn't need to see it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cardinal Sin

I should know better. Seriously. I mean, I've been sewing for so long that I should remember that I always need to double-check patterns before I make the actual garment. I mean, it's not hard to make a muslin, right? But I was excited about finally taking time to sew for myself and jumped in feet-first.

So, Colette Patterns Beignet skirt, red wool (a gift from my husband at Christmas) and some diamond-patterned red and grey-blue silk that I dug out of my stash and I was convinced that I'd have a beautiful skirt. I had it all in my head, especially after the button fiasco. How can buttons be a fiasco? Well, apparently finding a dozen buttons at the local JoAnn's is too much to ask. And I dug through my stash of vintage buttons, only to be immediately reminded that I stupidly used a majority of the red ones in a crafty project about 2 decades ago. Which sucks because I had these beautiful red glass buttons that would have been perfect.... but I digress. Anyway, no red buttons here and not enough at JoAnn's, so I resorted to buying some very cool-looking black buttons that have a decidedly Deco vibe to them.

Now that I had all my components I was set and had decided that I needed this to be what I wore for my birthday. And at that point I only had 2 weeks to make it which, while it sounds like plenty of time, is not really enough when I factor in the demands of my family - particularly since everyone got sick right around this time. I'm blaming the not making a muslin on this, since I felt pressed for time, but in reality I was just not thinking.

So I got everything cut out and missed my birthday deadline completely. But I still wanted to finish it while it's still cool enough to wear wool, so I charged ahead. In the process of sewing the skirt - which is always easy with Colette patterns - I found that the fabric I was working with was simply too bulky to press the seams to the side, rather than press them open, particularly at the top edge when joining the skirt body to the facings/lining. I know that some people think that it weakens the seams, but I highly recommend pressing the seams open when using thick fabric.

After attaching the skirt to the lining/facings I tried it on and looked in the mirror and instantly saw the problem - aside from needing to take in the seams a bit all the way around, I realized that the pockets were too low and therefore stuck out like wings from my thighs. Not an attractive look, I assure you. I should have taken the time to shorten the pattern properly prior to cutting out. Consequently it was also too long. Shortening it wasn't going to help this problem at all. So I put it aside to think about how to fix it. I don't want this to end up in the ufo pile. So what to do? I made a muslin, post-haste.

Since I didn't necessarily think that this would be a wearable muslin, I just dug around in my stash and found some navy and white gingham made from some mystery fiber (probably a poly blend of some kind) and some cheap polyester lining in a very pale grey. I didn't even bother to use thread that matched the lining - I just changed the needle to a smaller size and used the same navy thread I was using for the gingham. Also, I eliminated the pockets, since I didn't think this was something that would go into my wardrobe. I ended up shortening the skirt at the line marked on the pattern roughly 2 1/4". Then I sewed the skirt shell and tried it on. It needed taking in all around, so I resewed the seams 1/8" further in. Yes, this means that the seams got taken in 1/4" at each seam, for a total of 1 1/2" . That may seem like a lot but it helped a lot with the shape. In fact, the shape is so good in the back that when I finished the main construction and tried it on again (no buttons or hem yet) my husband commented that it made my bum look good. That, folks, makes it a winner.

So now it needed buttons. A quick search through my stash of blue buttons (yes, I have them sorted in canning jars by color) told me that I didn't have enough in the right size and in the right quantity. A brief stop at JoAnn's revealed a severe shortage of navy buttons so I took what I could get. But I did mention it to the manager - 2 cards of each button type is not adequate for most people. She agreed and said that she was trying to convince her boss that she needed more stock. I felt lucky to walk out of there with 12 of the same button in the right color. So now, the finished product:

It turns out that this is sort of wearable. And I like it. In fact, I like it so much that I decided I had to make a Jasmine blouse in navy lawn with a white tie and cuffs. Yes, the gingham is a little wonky in places but it's not really that bad. The hem was a beast to finish and get right - the gingham really fools the eye. And I hemmed it with a blind catch-stitch, which is easy to do and easy to mess up if you're not careful.

Colette Patterns Spring/Summer Palette Challenge

I don't know if I'm going to make the deadline on this, or even if I'll get everything done. But I intend to try to get all of these things done. My color palette consists of black, navy, cadet blue, red, maroon,  and pink. This is mostly inspired by the gingham and polka dots that have been popping up in the retro-influenced clothing in RTW and by things I've pinned on my pinterest board. But really this is a build on the gingham Beignet skirt that I made earlier, and a Chantilly dress that I made 2 years ago but never really finished and which had some fit issues. I really want to finish that dress properly and it happens that it fits my palette. Here's the fabric it's made from:

So that's my jumping-off point. Then I plan on doing a Jasmine blouse in this navy lawn with a white tie and cuffs in this white striped lawn, which was inspired by the navy and white gingham Beignet I mentioned earlier.

Next, I have another Colette pattern on the list, Ceylon. This will be made from a mix of 2 fabrics: a white and red polka-dot cotton poplin and a solid red poplin.
Apparently this is a really dress-heavy plan, since there are at least 2, perhaps 3 other dresses in this plan. First, being inspired by a photo of a field of poppies (red flowers and blue sky), I thought that this floral linen would make an excellent dress:
I'm planning to make this into a dress from the latest issue of Ottobre Woman, a fuller-skirted sundress. The next 2 dresses in line are going to be my versions of dresses I found on the Mod Cloth website. The first is a black and red dress that was called "A Cherry Good Day"which can be seen on my pinterest board here. I plan on using these 2 Butterick patterns to recreate this dress

and using black and red 100% cotton poplins:

The second Mod Cloth copy was a best seller last year, a pink
gingham halter-style dress. I don't recall the name of it but here it is:

As you can see, the bodice pieces are very similar to the Butterick on the left above and the skirt can be replicated with the one on the right. I already have the pink gingham in my stash - all I need is some white rick-rack. Finally, I plan on a denim version of the Meringue skirt from the Colette Patterns book, since I've seen so many cute denim iterations around the 'net. And I have some notion that I want to make at least 2 of the Sorbetto pattern in these fabrics:

Of course, I'd like to add a pair of sailor pants, too. Hot Patterns has a sailor pant that looks cute and I already own it. Plus, I think I have some navy linen in my stash....  But maybe I'll just stick with the Colette Clover pants pattern, since I like a slim capri pant for summer. Oh, and I want to make a fitted t-shirt with a cutout back like this one. I definitely can't pull all of this off within the challenge time frame, but since summer doesn't really start until July here, I figure I've got enough time. Still, I probably have too many ideas. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Piece of Me

I've been wanting to join the "beauty is where you find it" photo challenge over at luzia pimpinella and I'm finally jumping in. 

I'm cheating, though. I didn't take this one - Scott did. It's kind of hard to take a photo of your back.This was taken right after the tattoo was done. So, in the interest of being true to the challenge, here's a self-portrait of sorts, taken for the benefit of showing my new glasses:

I'm not really satisfied with either of these at the moment, so I'll try to take another one tomorrow that's slightly more creative.