Tuesday, April 30, 2013

101st post and a new dress for me!

The boys were a bit too quiet this evening after dinner and I came upstairs to find my youngest using my serger spools as building blocks.  "A GIGANTIC spider web, Mommy!"  There are definitely worse things to get into in the sewing room, so we're good with thread! 
During Kid's Clothes Week, I started to cut out a dress for myself, but set it aside.  The fabric was bought years ago, and it's some kind of lightweight linen blend from Joann's.  The pattern is an old Vogue 7871, probably bought when I was in college, but I wanted to try it out because it was simple, looked to be flattering and might be amenable to knit fabric. 
It's crazy--if I followed the sizing based on my measurements, I would be a 10 bust grading up to a 12 at the waist, but so much ease is built into patterns that I usually go down one or two sizes.  This time, using the garment measurements, I cut a size 6 and made the petite adjustments.  It fits perfectly!  And because all dresses need pockets, I drafted side seam pockets. 
It's great putting on clothing and seeing hidden details inside, so I added some butter yellow bias tape along the edge of the neck facing.  It's the little things in life :)
The pattern is lovely; perfect for a simple summer dress.   With Dolman sleeves and few pieces, it is quick to make and very comfortable.  I'm excited to try it out with some knit fabric!
Today marks my 101st post (missed celebrating the century mark yesterday)!  Over the past couple of years, hands down the most popular post has been this one:

 Followed by:

 Apparently tutorials using laminated fabrics are popular on this blog! 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Kid's Clothes Week: Days 6, 7 + 8

I got started on one final project for Spring Kid's Clothes Week on Friday, a pair of overalls for my little man.  After working on them for what feels like an eternity, I finally finished them today (just a day overdue :).  Between constantly switching between regular and topstitching thread, having to sew each seam three times, and all the other details that went into these short-alls, they are seriously one of the most involved articles of clothing I've ever made.   But look how cute!  And they fit!
The pattern is Kwik Sew K3948, without all the crazy embellishments, and the fabric is charcoal grey heavyweight twill from Joann's.   I debated the gold topstitching, but glad I went with it, even though I had to rip out many seams that weren't just right (no double-needle was used here!).
I followed the pattern fairly closely, though I used flat-felled seams on the inside instead of just overcasting. 
The little man put them on and took photos (with a lollipop bribe, clearly), but I think he may actually wear them, even without the candy treat.
Inexplicably, moments after finishing the Epic Overall Adventure, I just had to make another Perfect Polo to match.  After making the green version, I was able to whip the new elephant version in just over 2 hours and without consulting the instructions.  Sweet!
I know this color is completely impractical, but I just love it!  And the pearl snaps?  So adorable!
I changed up the pocket shape and size, expanded the collar by about 1", and did a bit of a different construction on the collar stand (I'll go through great lengths to avoid hand sewing).  I'm seriously planning a version for my husband. 
The whole outfit just makes me happy! 

With my class canceled and daycare paid for through the end of the month, Kid's Clothes Week came at a great time.  I was able to put some serious hours in, and made a heap of clothing for my boys!  All in all, I made:
On deck are two very different projects in collaboration with Britex...very exciting! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kid's Clothes Week: Days 4+5

Anyone who sews for boy children knows that there is a serious dearth of cute clothing patterns for little men, and big men, too, actually.  So I was thrilled to find the Blank Slate pattern company, which gives little boys their due attention in the cute clothing department, and I quickly purchased the Perfect Polo
The pattern comes in a wide size range, so with the one download, I can make perfect polos for both my nearly 3 and nearly 8 year olds.  The styling is modern and uses knits (for comfort!) and woven fabric as trim (for cuteness!).  The directions are easy to understand and follow, and I whipped up this guy in about 3 hours, which included ripping out the collar and making a new one.  Not bad!
I brought the little boy to the fabric store and he picked out the kelly green knit all by himself.  Not my first choice, it worked well enough with the car print. 
The collar piece is a collar stand and collar all in one.  The original collar didn't fit properly and the shirt puckered when I sewed it on, so I cut out a longer one and that worked better. 
I used a regular straight stitch for most of the trim pieces, flat-felled seams for the shoulder pieces, the serger for body construction and then switched to a double-needle for the hems.   I think this photo of the inside captures them all :)
Back view.  The little faux-epaulets are pretty cute, but you could easily adjust the pattern to omit them if you aren't feeling that look. 
I have no idea why he's posing like this, below, but he certainly loves his new shirt.   Which is a good thing because he may be living in these for a long time to come.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kid's Clothes Week: Days 2 +3

Two days, two sets of pajamas!  First up, shorties for my big boy, in the "babyish" lizard print.  Having bought only one yard, I didn't have quite enough to make a second shirt AND shorts, so I used the orange rib for the body of a raglan top and the lizard fabric for the arms.  I like the look a lot, since it breaks up all those crazy-colored lizards.  I used a RTW shirt to rough draft the pattern for the top and used a short-length version of the "Sleeping Johns" from Growing Up Sew Liberated for the bottoms. 
The shorts fit him perfectly, but the top is a bit short.  No big deal--he's got a younger brother, so it'll get use regardless :).  And he loves them.  The photo of him at the top of the post was in the morning, after a night of sleeping in his new jammies.
I discovered the most perfect elastic ever.  Seriously.  If you make elasticized bottoms, buy this elastic.  It's nicely stretchy, and sewing through it doesn't make the elastic all wonky.  Beautiful stuff for pajamas (and hopefully pants, too!)
As usual, I used a 3-thread overcast for the main seams and double-needle with wooly nylon in the bobbin for the hems. 
Little man got a pair of PJs too!  His are in a colorful owl print, with the ubiquitous orange rib knit for the trim. 
I scaled down his brother's raglan shirt pattern and used size 3T of the "Sleeping Johns" pattern for the bottoms.  Wow, I love that pattern!  With only two pieces, it's super easy and fast; I timed this pair, and they took 30 minutes (including tracing and cutting out the pattern, measuring ankle ribbing and visiting my son's "pet store" to buy a stuffed dog). 
I altered the pattern by cutting off an inch or two and adding a rib knit cuff at the bottom so I could make them long and not cause problems when he's walking around.  Plus, that's what all the rest of his store-bought pairs have! 
I attached the ribbing before sewing the inseam, which worked great.  Really, I can't say enough about this pattern.  Unfortunately, much like when I made my first PUL diaper cover, I've realized that I can probably no longer purchase pajamas when they are so incredibly easy, fast and cheap to make. 

It took some cajoling to get a photo, but swinging with Daddy helped :) For the rest of the week, I have two projects planned:
I'm getting antsy to get back to selfish sewing...I have some patterns and knit fabric of my own waiting patiently...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Kid's Clothes Week: Day 1

I'm going to preface this post by divulging that I have been home without children for the entire day.  Compound that with not having to deal with fit issues (yay for kid's clothing!) and I was a very productive seamstress should be expected under the aforementioned circumstances, right?
On to the daily report!  First up, I wanted to make a pair of pants for my super skinny big boy.  I had purchased the Dapper Dillinger pattern (Figgy's patterns) a while back, not realizing that the pant is designed to be super baggy (on a regularly-sized child).  So I scaled the back piece to about the 3T waist size and kept the length for his actual size (about a 6).  Hadn't hemmed them for this photo, but they are all done now!
I also decreased the waistband width and added some back patch pockets. Pants just don't look right without back pockets!  I had to remove and reattach these after I began sewing the waistband and realized that the pockets would hit into where the waistband would be sewn!  Helps to read the instructions all the way through, apparently!
Embarrassingly, I sent my younger son to daycare in PJ shorts because it's about 80 degrees today and we had no clean pairs.  To redeem myself, I made him a pair of shorts (from the same material as his brother's pants, of course :)  I used a pair of pants to estimate the shape and sketched a basic pattern such that each leg of the pant is a single piece of fabric. 
I had to add side pockets because, even at 2.5 years old, he actually uses his pockets and it's the cutest thing.
Some double-stitching (with a single needle) for detail.  Love this contrasting fabric (also on the inside of the pockets of the pants, above):
Finally, to round out the afternoon, I busted out a t-shirt.  Using a RTW top for the pattern, I serged it up in no time.  I still don't have an elegant way to deal with some of the issues of sewing with a serger, but pulling out the hand needle to tuck and hide threads works well for now!  I finally got to try out clear elastic to reinforce the shoulder seams and it worked great!
After much cajoling, here are the two boys in their mom-made duds:
After telling the eldest to lift his shirt so I could get a photo of the waistband, little brother wanted to copy.  Too cute!
Incredibly, even without the kids around to check sizing, everything fit super well!  Little man's shorts could be bigger in the bum to accommodate his cloth diaper, but *finger's crossed* he'll be out of those sooner than later.
My older son loves animals and I could tell he wanted a lizard shirt like his brother.  After some discussion, it came out that he thinks the print is a little "babyish", but he's thrilled to get lizard PJs instead.  Looks like I have my next project for the week!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pre-KCW sewing

I'm in!  Kid's Clothes Week starts tomorrow.  It's like a mini-resolution: sew for 1 hour a day for a week, focusing on the kiddos.  I've intended to get into the sewing habit pretty much forever, so now's as good a time as any, especially since I don't have lecture prep taking up my evenings anymore. 

Last week, my younger son had a special package hand-delivered from Japan--a big box of worksheets and activities (which the company would not ship to an American name!) for use at his daycare.  Included in the package was a set of adorable pencils, not round by "sankaku" (triangle).  The daycare requested a pencil case, and of course, I was thrilled to have a simple and cute project to work on.  I was set on sewing my son's name onto the case, one letter per elephant, which made it comically large for the pencils it was to hold:
Clearly, a second pencil case was needed.  For the next, I pitched the idea of sewing his name on it and just made an appropriately sized bag. 
Much better!   For comparison, we have the two together.  The bigger bag will certainly get use--all of our writing and drawing implements are segregated in their own oilcloth-zippered bags, and they're also fabulous for plane rides and other trips. 
For KCW proper, here's what I have on the docket:
  • pants for my eldest, using a drastically altered version of the Dapper Dillinger Pant by Figgy's.  I got a jump on the week by altering the pattern already.
  • shorts for my youngest--no pattern, just use some of his current shorts 
  • t-shirts (despite my son's dramatic refusal to wear the most recent one)
  • anything else I can get done :)
Fun times!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More tops for the spring (kind of)

Knits and sergers.  They're like a foreign language compared to sewing wovens with a regular machine.  Whereas I feel confident in my sewing skills on my regular machine, I get nervous and uncertain when I sit down with knit fabric at my serger.   Of course the only way to resolve that issue is practice, so over the past few months I've purchased some knits to improve my skills.  For this top, I used this geometric knit fabric from Britex, purchased last fall (hence the non-seasonally appropriate color palette).  I found this piece on Britex's top floor in the remnant department--definitely the place to get pre-cut pieces of fabric at reduced prices (even Bemberg!). 

The pattern was downloaded from Burda Style (the Long Sleeve Top), adapted to have 3/4 sleeves.  Not even joking, I am obsessed with finding a perfect raglan-sleeved 3/4 sleeve top for the inevitable time when they go out of style and I'll have to make my own.  Because I don't care if I'm that lady that doesn't keep up the the trends, I will wear 3/4 length sleeves for the rest of my life.  
I used the smallest size, but cut the seam for the arm in a bit on the front and back, since the first version I made was a little wide.  Also, after struggling with getting a bias strip to lay properly, I cut it out and just folded over the neckline, sewing with a double needle and my regular machine.  Not ideal, but it looks okay. 
The bulk of the top is sewn with a 3-thread overlock stitch, which makes the construction super fast.  The sleeves and hem were finished with a double-needle on my regular machine, with woolly nylon in the bobbin.  One thing I've discovered when using that method on knits is to stretch the seam line before cutting the threads, which helps pull in as much woolly nylon as is needed to allow for stretch while wearing.

Overall, I'm pleased with the pattern and how the top turned out.  I need to start practicing switching out my machine between serging and coverstitching on my (non-air threading) serger so I can finish hems the real way!
If you haven't already, pop over to Made By Rae's annual Spring Top Sewalong and check out the other awesome tops in the Flickr pool!  It's ON until April 19th!