Friday, January 31, 2014

The Evolution of a Slipper

I have been making my 5 year old slippers for three years now.  The pattern is from the blog "From and Igloo."  I would give a link but it seems the blog is no where to be found anymore (if anyone knows where it is I'd love to give credit.)  The pattern and tutorial were for sizes 2 and 4 (left to right in this picture.)  This year I graded the pattern up to a size 6 (far right.)  As you can see from the worn off stitching and button eyes they are very popular and are worn constantly.  

If I remember correctly Christine from "From and Igloo" based this pattern off of some of those great toddler shoes with elastic casing in the front and back.  This is what my daughter loves about them.  They don't fall off.  I always add leather to the sole for grip.  The leather is all from a coat I thrifted ages ago.  One other note about the leather, they make my daughter quiet as a mouse and she can sneak up on us quite easily (that is if we don't hear the breathing.)  
The first two pair were rabbits and since we're into cats around here this year this last pair has cat ears.  Its always hard for my daughter to warm up to the knew pair but once she does there's no taking them off.  Its become one of my tried and true patterns, do you have any tried and true patterns like this for your the little ones in your life?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Think Spring (or, early retirment in Florida)

Update:  I've added some pictures of my daughter wearing the jacket at the bottom of the post.  Definitely looks better than expected-- maybe it's a keeper after all!

You know when you have a vision for something, and then the end result turns out a little bit....different?  That's how I feel about this project.  The first item on my KCW checklist was the Lily Knit Blazer from Peek-A-Boo Patterns.  I had been ogling this pattern since it was released this past fall, and was glad to finally have an excuse to sit down and make it for my two year old daughter.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I planned on using some turquoise jersey for the main part of the jacket and then a yellow floral for the accent pieces.  That is, until I remembered that I had this in my stash:

A beautiful, bright, spring-like floral that I bought on clearance at Hobby Lobby a few months ago.  And since it's January, and I live in the Midwest, something bright and cheery sounded like a good idea.

That is, a good idea if you want your two year old to blend in to a retirement community in Florida.  So, here it is:

I'm thinking of making some pink polyester pants to match.

In all seriousness, it's a really cute pattern, and I think it has a lot of potential. I think the print and color combination turned out to be a little over-the-top, but may be able to be salvaged if I remove the pockets for a cleaner look.  There is also the possibility that it will look much better on her tomorrow morning in the daylight, rather than on the hanger at midnight. 

 But favorite part of it is the ruffled panel in the back, which can be seen here:

My daughter is sometimes a 3T/sometimes  a 4T, so I made the size 4 to have a little bit of wiggle room.  But there seems to be a lot of wiggle room already built in to the pattern, to the point that I had to take off 3.5 inches off of the sleeves.  I included the optional princess seams, which helps give it a more tailored look, but omitted the piping.

Overall, a good pattern.  I'll try to take some pictures of my daughter wearing it tomorrow to see if that improves the look.  And I'd love to have some second opinions!

Updated photos:

KCW Day 3: Geranium Vest and Pierrot Top

Since my last make (The Mother of All Plaid Coats) was so very involved I really wanted something a little less intense.  This get-up is for my 19 month old.  In Georgia our winters aren't quite as intense as they were in Kansas City so we really just need a little added layer here and there.  Here enters my idea for a toasty vest to layer over long sleeve shirts.  I've had lots of great experiences with the Made by Rae Geranium dress which needs no introduction in sewing blogland so my thought was there has to be a way to take the basic bodice and transform it into a vest.  So here's my remix of the Geranium dress into toddler vest.
For those of you who are interested in the way I converted the dress to a vest, here's a fast and dirty recap. From the bodice:

  • I omitted the button overlap from the back and added one to the front
  • lengthened the bodice
  • curved the bottom front hem
  • flared the side seams slightly at the hemline.  
  • Lastly, I added a crochet pocket just because I love the hand made look of it. 

 I also made the Pierrot top by Made by Rae patterns to go with the vest.  I modified it a bit, lengthening and narrowing the sleeves and adding an elastic casing at the cuff.
 The little houses are from  the Oliver + S blog.
I don't think I really need to offer much in the way of a pattern review since I think these patterns are so well known but they sew up quickly and predictably which is a plus.  The fabrics for the vest were thrifted, the lining being from a flannel sheet.  The top is a gingham from my stash (long ago purchased at Hancocks).

So far Kids Clothes Week has been productive for me but that's mainly because I began cutting everything out last weekend and the baby takes a good long nap in the midmorning.  Thank you baby G for knowing how much I need my sewing time and honoring the nap schedule like I knew you would :).    

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kids Clothing Week (what have I gotten myself into) Coat

I call this my "kids clothing week( what have I gotten myself into) coat" because I think I NEVER would have completed it if I had not been motivated by this sewing challenge.  I began two weekends before the challenge cutting out the pattern and reading in my sewing books about matching plaids.  When the sewing book says "to be realistic, we must admit that sewing with uneven plaids is not for the novice" (The Vogue Sewing Book) it can make you pause and wonder if you really should have bought all that beautiful wool. And when your realize you're going to have to cut out one piece of the pattern then use that cut piece of fabric as your pattern for the mirroring piece you start to wonder what you've gotten into!  Here's a picture of what I'm trying to explain.   This is one front piece being used as a pattern piece for the opposite side.

So here's the coat in its- some of the plaids match and some don't- glory.  Now a warning, there are quite a few pictures here, but I am SSOOOO proud I finished this coat and that she actually LIKES IT!

 Here's a personalized proud Momma tag and you can see the snaps that I used instead of button holes.
 This is the hem of the wool.  I thought she'd enjoy "secret" pink lace hidden behind the liner.
 You can really see some of the plaid matching on the front.  See those vertical purple stripes on either side of the buttons and the black lines that go horitontally,oooohhhh yeahhhhh!

 Here's a shot of the houndstooth flannel I used on the "skirt" portion of the coat.  A side note, she's really just learned how to lean into swinging to get of those things you hope they eventually figure out!

And just because he is always our comic relief this is Buster trying to get away from the camera...he's kinda quirky like that, but he always makes me smile.

So for some details about the coat...
The fabric: The main outer fabric was a Wool/Polyester blend from Hancocks.  I think it was the "Nesa Fab" winter collection.  It was quite thick and fuzzy on one side.  I used tips from this post and this post to help me figure out how to cut the pattern out.  The lining was a combination of flannel and thin lining fabric.  I lined the top part of the coat in the thinner liner because after a test fit (and a word of advice from my Mom-thanks Mom!) I realized the flannel would make the chest area too bulky.  The flannel is in the lower part of the coat because I wanted some extra warmth in that area.

The pattern: Simplicity 2534.  This pattern is great.  I can see myself going back to it in the future.  Its not easy per say but very well constructed and the directions are as clear as I think you can expect for a coat like this.  I read all of the posts from Angry Chicken, one found here about this pattern to glean any tips she had.  I used her tip to use large snaps instead of buttons and buttonholes so that the coat could be easily repaired in the future.  I always appreciate Amy Carol's blog whenever I visit it.  She has such a relaxed and organic feel to her makes.  A note about sizing, my daughter is 5 years old and I made the size 5.  It fit perfectly but probably won't have enough wiggle room for next season.

Grade: I would give this pattern an "A" if you're an experienced sewist but maybe a "B" for a novice since the directions might be a little hard for a beginner to navigate.  I think if I'd used a solid color fabric it definitely would have taken me about half the time to make it but I really think I stretched myself as a sewist to use this crazy plaid. Its meets my 5 year old's approval apart from some complaints that "its hot" when she tried it on, but that's kind of the point of making a coat like this!  This is definitely one of those garments that make you proud that you can sew when you complete it.  So here's to KCW and it being the push I needed to challenge myself!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ruby Dress Part Dos

Drumroll, please.....

Here is my Ruby top!  Please excuse the slight cheesiness of the photos.  (My husband asked if I was taking pictures for a profile...just a date with the internet, that's all!)

Overall, I love this top.  Just a few notes:

  • The fabric is a light aqua floral print rayon from Joann's that I picked up on clearance a few weeks ago.  I guess I really haven't done much sewing with rayon, and forgot/didn't realize what a slippery little devil it can be.  But it's really comfortable, and drapes really nicely, and I love the color combination of the aqua and reddish/orange. 
  • The Ruby Dress is designed as a sleeveless top, but I haven't worn anything sleeveless in a long, long time.  Many of you will understand.  So I added the sleeves from the Washi expansion pack, and they fit well, except for a little tightness in the underarms (aka, the armpits).  So next time I might cut the armscye a little deeper
  • For the first time ever, I did a blind hem on the bottom of the shirt.  I've been the proud owner of a blind hem foot for about a year, but never had the time/energy/bravery to try it out.  So what better time to learn how to do it than 10 o'clock at night?  So I read this tutorial, and then when that didn't make enough sense I read this one, and I still couldn't figure it out.  I am very spatially challenged, and while those tutorials would probably have been enough for the ordinary person, I could not quite wrap my mind around what I was supposed to be doing.  So then I watched this video.  And somehow, miraculously, it all came together.   The inside of the hem is pretty ugly, but by golly, I have a blind hem on my shirt.
I would love to try the Ruby Dress at some point, so that's going on my "To Do" list for this spring.  The Ruby Dress, a pair of boots, and a cute little jacket...I can see it now.  Cute outfits are in my future. 

Coming Next Week-- Kid's Clothing Week! Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Purple is my pantone color of the year

I think that purple has become my personal pantone color of the year.  I'm not really sure why I bought so much purple fabric this past year, most likely because it was on sale, but I did.  I don't mind it, it seems like people either love it or hate it, but I think its good for me since I sometimes gravitate too much toward blues.  
Well on to the top: 
Fabric: This fabric is a flannel from Hancocks fabrics.  Its a little heavy for this top but I wanted something a little warmer for winter than the rayons I've used in previous makes.  Please don't look for plaid matching- because there is none!  I know, bad sewist bad, but meh, not such a big deal since I squeezed this out of 1 and 1/2 yards of fabric.  Rayons work perfectly with this top, flannel is naturally a little stiff. 

Pattern: This is the Made by Rae Ruby top.  I've made four total, so its safe to say that I like it!  The sleeves are from the Washi Expansion pack and are shirred around the bottom.  The construction of the top is easy and quick.  I recommend it for those times when you just want a quick project.  It is super comfortable and pairs well with jeans.  

Well if you're looking for a "grade" for this pattern I'd give it a solid "A" since it yields consistent results, comes together easily, and fits great.  I will say that I made it in another fabric that was too stiff (more so than this flannel) and that it looked mighty poofy, so don't do that, unless you're in to poof.  So what fabric will you use on your Ruby top?  Rayon?  Flannel?  Stiff poofy pirate fabric? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Capturing Childhood

I've been sewing for my oldest child for five years and the questions I ask myself when I make garments for her now are different from the questions I once asked when I began this journey.  When I began I felt more restricted by cost and my limited sewing experience.

Now, although I still consider cost, I think more about what kind of picture of childhood I am trying to help my children capture.  I guess a hope of mine is that one day they will see a baby dress I made them and with fondness put that same dress on their child.  Another hope is that I will make the garments to fit their style and their particular frame.  I don't want them looking back on pictures and seeing what frightening get up their mom forced on them. 

All this to say that I try to draw ideas for my children's garments from both their ideals and my ideals.  I have found that a good place to start is by looking at children's books.  I wanted to share three artists that are my favorite.  I often page through these books for inspiration.  Let me show you why:
Eloise Wilkin
This is artist, Eloise Wilkin.  Her children's books have always captivated me, especially her eye for details concerning the construction of children's clothing.  This dress is probably my favorite design for a girls dress.  The yoke, the peter pan collar, the little puff sleeves, the gathered fluffyness of the dress.  These are all elements I adore.  

Here she really captures the wonder of childhood that is deeply tied to the wonder of nature.  Discovering nature and the world around you is all part of the mystery of growing as a person and Eloise Wilkin really seems to portray this in her drawings.  The children's clothes in this picture seem to embrace the reality that children like to feel comfy in their clothing.  
Gyo Fujikawa
What I love most about Gyo Fujikawa's drawings are the rich colors.  The colors are sometimes paired in ways that aren't so matchy-matchy and more organic which I think perfectly reflects childhood.  My children definitely don't pair their items the same way that I might (come to think of it their Dad NEVER pairs their clothes the way I would-ha ha!)!
The drawings also have that soft, water color look that I love as well and the pets are always in on the action.
I know whenever my children are playing in the yard our dog Buster is always right there with them.  Licking them, running beside the wagon, pulling on their clothes (and yes also destroying toys and eating whatever is in their hands).  
Marylin Hafner
I am less familiar with this artist however her drawing are very 70's in the book that I own but since I was born in the 70's in makes sense that I'd feel a tie to her!
This is from a Halloween book she illustrated but the way that the children appear to have made their own costumes is just perfect.  Dad's coat and tie, Mom's lipstick and that kid that made the weird, huge rabbit head (on a side note we had a kid come to our house this year with a huge papermache head, my daughter said "I won't trick or treat him because that's weird") that is what being a kid is about.  Making do, creating, exploring, growing as a person.  

I hope that in some way these images will inspire you as you dream of the garments you will make for your children and I know that every time I look at them I am inspired anew.  Do you have any children's books that you use for inspiration? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Starting a new blog makes me feel a little bit like Ben Stein in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off":  it's hard to know if anyone is actually out there listening.  But this is an exciting new adventure, and I can't wait to get started!

So....Kid's Clothing Week is January 27th through February 2nd, and there's no time like the present to plan, right?!  It's a good thing we started our planning (relatively) early, because I felt like it took me a looooong time to decide (it really didn't, but I was being indecisive, so it felt longer than it actually was).  Here was my problem:  There are a lot of fantastic patterns out there.  And I have a lot of wonderful fabric.  And KCW only lasts, well, a week.  So it was hard to narrow down the patterns and the fabric and be realistic about what I can actually do in a week.  But, I think I finally made up my mind (although I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, including but not limited to, the week of KCW).  Here's what I'm thinking:

Lily Knit Blazer by Peek-A-Boo Patterns

I'm planning on using some turquoise jersey knit that I picked up at a thrift store last summer.  It was $5 for three yards, it's hard to beat that price.  The yellow floral cotton was a hand-me down fabric, and I think it will make a nice contrast for the waistband and cuffs.  I'm not sure yet if I'll do the princess seams, I'm not impressed by the pictures I've seen where the piping becomes very wavy.  So that feature is TBD.

The Geranium Dress by Made by Rae

I love Made by Rae patterns-- but really, who doesn't?  They are quality patterns that are fairly simple, but also have the possibility of lots of variations.  The sizing is roomy, without being too large. If I make one of her patterns, I don't have to worry about my daughter outgrowing it in two weeks.   Last May I made a Geranium dress with flutter sleeves, and I think it's about time for another one.  The time I'm thinking about including the cap sleeves and the front notch, just to spice things up a bit.  I definitely live on the wild side....  I found the pink heart fabric on the clearance rack at Joann's last week, it was an additional 50% off, so only $3 a yard.  It's a nice medium weight cotton, it will be perfect for the dress.  I haven't decided yet whether I'll do the bodice in the purple background fabric or if I'll do it all in the hearts.   Another element that I appreciate about this design is that it is just as cute with a long-sleeve tee underneath.  Since we live in the Midwest and it will be cold for at least another 4-5 months, I appreciate the versatility of a pattern than can be worn year-round.

The Josephine Dress by Violette Field Threads

 I've eyed the Violette Field Threads patterns for a while now, but this will be the first one I've made.  I think many of their designs are on the frillier side, which I occasionally like (it's like a food craving, every once in a while I just want to make my daughter something really girly and frilly, even though it's not my style, and once I do, the craving is gone!)   For KCW I plan on making the long-sleeve dress with the ruffle along the button placket.  I was recently given six or seven yards of quilting-weight toile in a rose color, and it seems like it would be perfect for this classic style dress.  I am indecisive on what color to use for the belt-- a contrasting color, something similar, dark, light?  What do you think? 

 And finally,  The Lucille Top by Shwin Designs

Shwin Designs has patterns with a very contemporary feel--- not many ruffles here.  The Lucille Top is one of their newer patterns, and it's an interesting twist on the basic tee.  I really like the look of their designs, but the one pattern I made previously (the Pepper Pinafore and Cami)  had sizing issues.  So I'm a little apprehensive of their other patterns, but because I love the look, I'm going to give it a second chance.  Hopefully because this is a knit instead of a woven it will be a little more forgiving in terms of the size.  This project is going to be an upcyle/recyle project.  The bottom half will made made out of an old royal blue t-shirt, and the top will be made of of some eyelet knit that was given to me by my grandmother.  Depending on where how low the v-shape falls on her, my daughter may have to wear a cami under it. 

So those are my plans, we'll see where KCW takes me!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Plans for Kids Clothes Week

Welcome to our new blog!  I'm not really sure how to kick it off so the best thing seems to be to just GO!! 

I'm planning on sewing for both of my girls for Kids Clothes Week.  Heres a loose idea of what I might accomplish!!

For the 5-year-old
  • Downton Duffle Coat- I plan on using the Downton Duffle Coat from Peekaboo Pattern shop. I've got the pattern already traced and cut out so I feel a little beholden to it! The fabric I have planned is very similar to this Boden coat on ebay.  Since most clothes have to be in the gender specific colors of pink and purple to be worn without complaint I just roll with it and try to release my preference for other color combos!  (Note to others out there- sew the stuff you like for your kids before they develop their own opinions!)  

  • A new pair of slippers using a pattern from the blog "From an Igloo."  I would include a link but the blog seems to be private now.  The slippers only came in a size 2 and 4 so I will grade them up a size. 
For the 18-month-old

  • A new dress for church.  Nothing too complicated, I have some Alexander Henry fabric that has been languishing in my stash for over a year.  It is way too cute to just sit there.  I'll use view A without that strange X design.  I'm trying to decide if the peter pan collar should be a contrasting fabric, leaning toward just using the same as the body. 

I'm trying not to over commit myself for Kids Clothing Week but its tempting to over plan. So what plans do you have for Kids Clothing Week?  What things are on your primary list and what are on your secondary list?