Camouflage pinafores

There’s a pattern by Helen’s Closet for a simple, pull-over adult pinafore, called the York Pinafore. I made one a few years ago, here. Well, a few weeks ago I got it into my head that matching mini Yorks for the twins would be adorable.

Can you spot the pocket?

I had actually started taking some measurements and drafting a pattern when I realized that I already had one—the stretchy overalls I made the twins over the winter are actually the exact same shape, minus the legs.

So I grabbed a kangaroo pocket in the twins size from Jalie 3355, and a yard of camo-print corduroy that I wasn’t sad to see go from the stash, and made them.

This was a simple project that would’ve been quick under any normal circumstances, but I can rarely “sew” for more than ten minutes at a stretch these days (Though the twins are very interested and excited to help me sort through everything, especially if it involves pins or pulling thread off of spools.)

For the bias tape finish I used some red quilting cotton tape I had made at some point for… something? Anyway it was in stash and ready to go. My application wasn’t particularly perfect, but I’m not going to fuss too badly about it. I do like the pop of colour.

My least favourite part is the hem; I did a quick blind hem on my machine, but in the black thread it’s not the least bit blind. I should’ve used a tan thread and just coloured the bits that showed with a sharpie. Or just topstitched the hem like the bias tape, which would’ve been easier. But I don’t think it will bother me enough to change—sewing time is too precious and summer is too fleeting.

Despite the cuteness these are a bit heavy for the weather we’re having, which has most days reaching higher than 30C, so I’ll just have to hope they still fit come fall…

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The Graduate

Thanks to COVID-19 it was a very strange, sad year to graduate high school. Syo (now seventeen, not seven) missed out on a lot this year—school musical, dance classes, Pom and cheer, and while our schoolboard never did shut down in person class this year, there has been a system of alternating days to keep the in-class numbers low, so there’s many friends she hasn’t even seen at class all year.

The one thing we were determined to make as normal as possible—a proper, handmade grad dress.

We started off strong. Syo did a concept drawing last fall and we purchased fabric back before Hallowe’en. Over Christmas we began making mock-ups, first perfecting a strapless knit “block” that fit to her liking, and then testing several iterations of the cowl-like neckline she wanted.

Please note: slightly draped neckline and asymmetrical side gathers.

And then in March, staring down the barrel of the “last mock up,” it was confirmed that there would be no big grad ceremony as our region entered its third wave of the pandemic. And we both lost steam. Even though I had told both her and myself that she deserved the dress with or without the ceremony or the party.

But finally, in early June, I put on my big girl panties and asked if she really wanted to finish it. And she did.

Commence panic.

We had to draft the final pattern. Half-circle full length skirt, in one piece with an asymmetrical bodice with ruching on one side only. The skirt wound up being too wide for the fabric. We were able to narrow it slightly for the red under layer, but the problem was much bigger for the black mesh overlay, which was a slightly narrower fabric with an even bigger pattern piece in the front. (In the back we added a CB seam to compensate)

This is where I made my biggest mistake. I should’ve just let the pattern hang off the edge of the fabric and cut the full length. Instead, thinking it would be covered by the lace, I made the decision to skip the bottom most portion of the front skirt. This did not work out—thé degree of coverage of the lace’s mesh was much less than the stretch mesh, so we had to add a big piece of stretch mesh to the bottom. Syo is less bothered by it than I am, fortunately. And actually, when it’s on and the skirt is draping in its folds it’s not at all noticeable.

Yes, she insisted the slit be that high.

There were a few other hiccoughs in construction. She really wanted to be able to move the straps either up onto her shoulders or draping down off of them, which is fine but wasn’t working out with the back portion of the strap, so at the last moment we had to cut that off. And her desire for a cut-out back with lacing (absent in that original sketch, you may note) made EVERYTHING more complicated.

The back-lacing ribbon extending to attach to the straps (with a black lingerie ring to look fancy although they’re not really visible) was a last minute remedy, and I think it works well even though it wasn’t part of the original vision.

And yes, it’s one of the most striking features of the finished gown and I didn’t get ANY actual pictures of it on her on the Day?!?

It took a fair bit of fussing to get the side gathers right, and the weight of the lace on the hem pulled them down in a way not really intended.

The biggest and hardest part, though, was appliqueing the lace on to the bottom of the skirt. It was a full-width lace fabric, and I had originally expected to use rather more of it than just the wide scalloped borders, but it became obvious that it was going to be much simpler to fit just the border to the curve (there was still a lot of snipping and overlapping) and then appliqué isolated lace medallions trailing up the skirt after. Although that last bit did not happen due to time constraints.

So many pins…

I’ve done lace-play a couple of times before, and it’s incredibly fun to mix, match, and reshape motifs into the shape you need. But the scale of this, and the tight time constraint, was new. Not to mention the fact that I would be appliqueing non-stretch lace into a stretch mesh.

Placement was the first issue—the weight of the lace pulled down on the stretch mesh so that I had to raise everything at least an inch from where it “should” have been. Getting everything as flat as possible was the second issue, and there are still areas that ended up stretched and puckered despite my best efforts. In hindsight, backing the whole thing with a layer of wash-away stabilizer might have been helpful, but I didn’t think of that until I was well into the weeds. Or or having the time to hand-baste everything, but see above about time crunch.

As it is, I did my preliminary placement on the dress form and then refined and smoothed things out as I went along. We’ll just pretend it adds texture and depth to the lace.

We had to ditch the idea of further lace medallions scattered up the skirt due to time, but I did add fusible interfacing to a lace motif to make an appliqué for the top of the skirt slit.

Every bit as impractical as they look.

When one is playing with lace, you have to go for it, so we also added little lace motifs to her shoes and, of course, a mask. (This involved some last minute hand-stitching the morning of.)

(Made the mask back last summer, just added lace to match the dress)

The graduation ceremony was modified into a kind of conveyer-belt style where each grad and family group was moved in in turn, and each got to walk across the stage and receive their diploma from the principal, one by one. It was more than I expected, frankly, and what it lacked in gravitas was made up for in photo-ops, although Syo may not feel the same.

The biggest problem in the end was that the weight of the skirt pulled down on what is, essentially, a strapless knit dress. I’m not sure how we could anchor it better, however, as it’s hard to add a waist stay to a knit (power mesh panels?) without creating bulges.

Anyway, she got many gorgeous photos although I didn’t manage to take any of the back! and I didn’t manage to capture the details of the dress all that well. But the best one remains this snap of her looking at Tris, taken just as we left for the ceremony.

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Unnecessary Jeggings

Or, Thing You Can Sew During Naptime

I haven’t been able to do much naptime sewing lately, but I managed a wee bit today, and for some reason, I made the twins jeggings.

I mean, I like jeggings. They have a couple of RTW pairs that that are getting pretty janky and are also nine month size (and the twins, while fairly shrimpy, are getting a bit tall for that at almost 21 months)

But they also have eighty million other pants and we’re fast approaching shorts season.

Anyway, as jeggings go these ones are pretty minimal—no pockets or back yoke or anything. I started with the same basic Jalie leggings pattern (2920), in the F size (size 2), which I’ve used for other leggings for them in the past. The only changes I made were to add a fly extension at the front crotch, to support the mock-fly topstitching, and to add about 1” of length and a bit of width to the bottom of the leg, for a more “pants” and less “leggings” fit.

The fabric is this glorious heavy “denim” knit I bought a ridiculous amount of back when I worked at Fabricland, and I wouldn’t mind making myself another pair of jeggings from it if I can motivate myself.

I did the topstitching again using the triple straight stitch on my vintage Elna, which is both ridiculously fast and better looking than the same stitch on my Janome, although it’s a little hit or miss. Since I was working with 1/4” seam allowances and the only way to topstitch the inseam on leggings is to sew up the inside of the tube, which is always a bit tricky, I opted for a single row of topstitching everywhere except the “fly”, and I’m pretty happy with that choice. (Also, a lot faster)

Anyway, they fit fairly “loosely” as leggings go, and there’s plenty of length, so even if they don’t get much wear over the summer I’m sure they will still fit come fall.

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Cold mess jeans

I’d call these jeans a hot mess, but they took way too long for that.

Sometime last year, amidst a tentative return to sewing when the twins started napping a little more reliably, I started work on a second pair of Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans. I need jeans pretty badly; while I did get back into my last few pairs after having the twins, they were on their last legs already. I’ve been a bit, ah, ambivalent about jeans for a few years now, mainly because the body I have to put in them has changed over the last ten years, as has the prevailing fashion, and I’m not sure how I feel about either fact.

But anyway, another pair of Ginger Jeans felt fairly safe stylistically. My last pair (which just need a new button, except the twins have managed to lose all of my jeans buttons somehow?) weren’t perfect but I was pretty comfortable with a few tweaks they’d be… as good as they could be. My pocket placement is a lot better this time, although they’re still too far out from the CB seam, at least they aren’t too low.

The fabric I picked is a Robert Kaufman extra-stretchy denim from Periwinkle Quilting, which is VERY, very stretchy. The fabric I used last time was also very stretchy, so it seemed like a good choice especially given my measurements have changed and there was no way in hell I was reprinting my pattern.

Anyway, I got them cut out, and then promptly ran into issues with the topstitching. This denim is so stretchy that not only was I worried about topstitching breaking (not so much the topstitching thread itself but the regular thread on the underside), but in my last version one of the issues was the yoke seam and pocket tops making dents in my backside because they didn’t stretch as much as the rest. Not the prettiest look. So after a bunch of testing on several machines, I settled on a triple straight stitch on my Elna machine. This gives a great heavy look, and it’s very stretchy, as long as everything works perfectly—but it’s also easy to mess up. Oh, and at this point I’d already done the front pocket and fly assembly (which are all stabilized by the pocket bags etc.) with a regular straight stitch topstitching. So now the back topstitching wouldn’t match the front, but I figured that was better than tight lines and broken stitches.

Anyway, I started plugging away at construction last summer, arguably the heyday of my post-twin sewing (I wasn’t back at work yet and I was getting to do at least a few minutes of sewing almost every day at nap time)… and then halfway through topstitching the inseam I ran out of topstitching thread. (Because the triple straight stitch is a huge thread hog)

In the old days this would’ve been a negligible issue. In a covid-lockdown world where I no longer work at a fabric store and have twin babies I don’t like to take shopping, it took weeks to get to a store and pick up some more, only to misremember the colour number and get the OTHER shade of gold topstitching thread. And then months to get back again to correct that. It was October by the time I had the right thread (which still isn’t perfectly right because of dye lots, but it’ll do), and I was back at work and very short on time. I did manage to sew up the side-seams and get them fitted sometime around Christmas, but there were other projects that took priority and then the whole jeans vanished, somewhere in the drifts of chaos as the twins disassembled ever increasing portions of our basement.

Anyway, when the Sewcialists’ final theme month was announced as All Butts Welcome, it seemed like the perfect prod to get me to finish the jeans. And they did turn up, after a few weeks of incremental tidying (in an area I swear I’d searched several times before). So I plunged back in. Except.

After the long hiatus, a lot of the details were fuzzy to me. I forgot that I was topstitching on the Elna. I grabbed the wrong colour topstitching thread. Triple straight stitch is almost impossible to pick out, people, especially when sewn on my Janome, which for some reason will only stitch that particular stitch at the default 2.2mm length—which is why I was using the Elna, not that I remembered that until after I had topstitched the waistband. Can I call it a design feature?

An extra line of not-very-straight topstitching is a legit design detail, right?

Then I realized that I had forgotten I ran out of topstitching thread partway through topstitching the inseam. So one inseam had only one line of topstitching, while the other side had two. I wasn’t prepared to roll with this, so I got the Elna set up. The stitch was perfect on my test, but for whatever reason, as I painstakingly stitched up the inside of the already-sewn leg tube, the backward-forward motion of the triple stitch was off, and because you can’t see much of what you’re stitching, I couldn’t see how bad it was until I got it done. It’s pretty bad. But it’s just half an inseam, right? It went on to topstitch the hems perfectly. The back and forward of this stitch can be affected by you pulling on the fabric, which is hard not to do when stitching up the inside of a tube, but I swear I was very conscious and careful of this. Anyway. I’m not currently willing to try it again.

Can you spot the wonky line of topstitching? I mean, of course you can but it’s less obvious in this photo than I thought it would be, actually.

As a final insult, I ran out of the gold regular thread I use for bar-tacks halfway through doing the belt loops. (Doing bar tacks in topstitching thread on home sewing machines is asking for it, I have learned painfully over the years.) Fortunately a scrounge through the thread drawer turned up some old thread from my Grandma’s stash in the right colour. Mostly I try not to use the old thread for construction as I don’t trust it’s strength, but for bar tacks on belt loops that won’t likely be used, it should be ok.

No, wait, maybe the final insult was discovering that the twins have managed to lose all my little jars of jeans buttons (I have quite a few, but they’ve been systematically emptying the drawers of my sewing desk for months and I have no idea where I put most of the contents. I miss my storage space.) Or maybe it was the half-ass attempt at a keyhole button hole that my Janome managed to put out, but I have low expectations for jeans buttonholes so I wasn’t too traumatized at that point. Although looking at the pictures, I realized I made the buttonhole too far from the end of the waistband, which allows the end to flip up and stick out a bit. I’m thinking a hook and eye or two might be called for, since I’m not moving button or button hole at this point.

At any rate, it was a pretty sweet triumph to finally put them on, and then be able to take some quick pictures right away.

I’m still not really sold on high-rise jeans on my body—I don’t have a teeny waist and I feel like they just make me look rectangular. My squishier mid-section has made my old low-rise stand-by less appealing, and mid-rise falls right in the middle of my “squishiness”, which is either uncomfortable and just squishes extra width up to my waist, or if it’s loose enough not to squish, just rolls down to the hip dip at my low-rise level. On the other hand, I’m not the sort to tuck a shirt into jeans, and I’m not likely to wear a crop-top like this out of the house. So maybe it really doesn’t matter anyway. Anyway, I’ve worn them and I will continue wearing them, and they feel pretty good on although a little too stretchy. But I may give in and buy my next pair of jeans, because I really don’t have the brain power for this kind of project right now.

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Cottagecore Mini

To use up the last of the linen from my adventure skirt (and top), I decided to make the twins dresses. There was about enough fabric to make one dress, so this required bringing in a coordinating fabric. I dug out some more of the blue-grey shot cotton gauze I used for the bindings on the little top. Although it’s a very different fabric in terms of thickness, weave, and even texture, something about the white threads make them both work well together, I think.

I wanted something with a yoke and gathered skirt and no sleeves, and I basically found it in Style 1487. Thé only drawback was that it’s a size 2, which is still a bit roomy for the twins. However, they have this annoying tendency to keep growing so I figured I’d give it a try.

They are pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

All in all the dresses are definitely a bit roomy, but not catastrophically so. They’ll fit for the length of the summer for sure, and if I’m lucky still work next summer.

After a lot of quick knit projects on the serger and coverstitch, there’s something soothing about a classic 70s pattern with all the “traditional” home sewing touches. These are no couture gowns, but they were fun to make.

My only real irritation is that the “bodice” of the pattern is actually a yoke, which doesn’t come the full way down the armscye. I didn’t really think much about this at the start, but it means that the top of the armscye (in the sleeveless version, anyway), is finished by the lining, but the bottom has to be finished with bias tape. Either of these methods alone is fine, but I was annoyed at having to do both.

On thé other hand I really like the proportions, and the gently flared shape and square neckline and pockets. So it is what it is.

I wanted to make sure I blended elements of the blue cotton fabric into both versions of the dress, since the yokes were all of the linen fabric. One possibility was to add blue piping around the neck. I did a frankly terrible job of applying piping to the neckline, to the point where I decided not to try that with the other bodice. I’m a little annoyed with myself as piping used to be something I was fairly good at, but not enough to try to go back and fix it.

The lace is different between the two bodices as well, and applied differently—one before the skirt, and the second one after, as I realized that by applying the lace first I made it impossible to tuck the skirt seam in between the layers of the yoke. So the internal finishing isn’t quite as neat on that version. I still like how they both look, however.

The backs are meant to be finished with a centered zipper, and I chose to add buttonholes and buttons instead. I didn’t draft extra overlap for this, although I did sew with a very narrow seam allowance along the CB edges of the yokes, and they seem to accommodate the overlap well enough.

My biggest worry now is that I feel like the dresses are too “good” for everyday wear and I’ll want to save them for nonexistent special occasions. But hopefully I’ll get over that, because while they weren’t exactly couture they’re still a lot more work than knit leggings, and it took me several weeks of incremental sewing to get them to this point. I want the twins to wear the snot out of them.

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Adventure skirt

This skirt comes from the confluence of a lot of things. I miss my old wardrobe. I’m so sick of living in leggings. I wanted to work with some linen—I’m craving the feel of a crisp natural fiber against my hands. And I guess the Sewcialists’ Zero Waste sewing month (that’s how long sewing this has taken) wormed itself into my subconscious, because even though I’m not usually thrilled with the practice of zero waste sewing, I wanted to try a really low-waste approach to this skirt.

It’s also taken a fuck load of time to complete, one seam (or even half seam) at a time, as the twins are VERY busy these days and we’re all worn out with winter and isolation, so it’s been hard to ask for more alone time to sew when everyone else I can ask is already at their limit, too.

The fabric was a big piece of extra-wide linen from Pure Linen Envy. I had ordered it hoping to make a bed sheet, but the 208cm width wasn’t quite wide enough for a queen size bed, nor is the fairly loose weave really ideal for bedding. But it wasn’t overly expensive for the size, and since it hadn’t really worked for its original purpose, I didn’t mind sacrificing it for something kind of experimental.

I started by calculating out the measurements for a trapezoid skirt. This is the low-waste method where you cut trapezoids in alternating directions, and then flip them around so the narrow ends make the waist and the wide ends give you the skirt’s flare. I could go into how I carefully decided on my number of panels, divided my waist measure by that, and then figured out how wide the bottom could be given that waist… but then my plotting onto the fabric wasn’t terribly precise (not least because my fabric was really wrinkly because have you ever tried to iron 2m wide linen while two toddlers are trying to climb the ironing board?!?) and then the resulting skirt wouldn’t have been quite as full as I wanted. So I cut another set of panels, planning an assortment of pleats to fit the waistband… so really there’s a lot more “than art” in this than science. Which is fine, really.

I had a lot of fun playing with pleat ideas, and then I had the idea to add adjustable pickups, which I’ve wanted to do for a steampunk feel of skirt for a long time. Big patch pockets as well. In my head there were elements of asymmetry as well, but I may have kind of blinked in that staring contest (although due to my rather haphazard cutting and equally haphazard pleating there’s some asymmetry for sure.)

I spent a lot of time faffing about, well, all the details, and in the end it’s fairly simple.

The big patch pockets (which are set way too low to be truly functional but I’m not moving them now) are simple rectangles. I sewed some big, gorgeous, heavy shell buttons on them for decoration, which made them sag awfully, so then I added some tabs with buttonholes.

For the pick ups on the front, I used a 3/4” twill tape (tea dyed to be a little closer to the warm brownish beige of the linen) and some little brass D rings I stocked up on way back in my Fabricland days. And I still have lots more… After mentally planning all kinds of elaborate methods, I just tied some lengths of narrowed twill tape to the top-most D rings. It works.

I very carefully didn’t make the waistband of the skirt too tight, and now I think it’s too loose. I will try just adding a second button, though, so I can adjust it through the day, because I notice that what feels comfortable in the mornings these days can be way too tight as the day wears on. The wonders of getting older, I guess.

Leveling the hem was a bit of a nightmare. I’m not good at leveling hems at the best of times, and my simple trapezoid cutting plan inevitable created long points at the seams and shorter spots at the middle of the panels (and did I mention there were 14 panels?), and it’s probably still not that even, but if you notice you can just keep that to yourself, all right?

At the risk of this post getting way too long, I’ll say a few quick words about the top. It’s from an older Burda magazine, and I made it before to go with another skirt and failed to write about it then. I used it again this time for two reasons: 1) it was the general style I wanted, and 2) the pattern was already traced. Obviously, I’m a bit bigger than last time, so I needed to upsize a bit. I added some with to the side seams, and did a wee bit of an FBA along the princess seam (which didn’t work out terribly well as it doesn’t run over the bust—I should’ve done an FBA using the tiny dart. In the end I was a bit over-generous, and had to take in quite a bit, and it just doesn’t sit as nice as I wish it did. Particularly, I was paranoid about making it too tight, so I may have erred on the side of too loose. I’m also debating adding some boning to the seams to keep it sitting a bit better. Also I didn’t stabilize the curved seam on the sweetheart neckline, which is ok now but we’ll see. I do like the binding finish I added.

The kids have informed me that the whole outfit is “cottagecore”, which I’m going to run with. It’s a lot of fun, especially the swishy skirt.

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Cuddlicious

As soon as I finished my first Madison cardigan, two things became clear: 1) I loved it, and 2) the black wool jersey, while gorgeous and yummy, was going to have to be reserved for at work wear, since the abundance of cat hair and random baby goop in our house means that anything actually worn at home needs to be easy wash.

I immediately began fantasizing about my perfect “lounging around the house” version. Like most of the world I’ve spent most of this past year at home being very unglamorous—leggings, nursing tanks, and a few RTW hoodies have featured prominently. One of my goals (largely unrealized) has been to create loungewear that still feels fun and stylish. A version of the Madison in French terry or sweatshirt fleece would be utterly, utterly perfect.

Alas, I was pretty sure I had no pieces of those precious fabrics in stash in sufficient quantities. The Madison is not a scrap busting piece. And both French terry and sweatshirt fleece are expensive enough that I rarely have the opportunity to just “stock up for later.”

But then as we were digging through some bins I haven’t touched in years, looking for tester fabrics for Syo’s grad gown, we stumbled upon the motherload. A 3m cut of glorious marled grey sweatshirt fleece. The skies opened up and choirs of angels sang, and I knew I had found my next Madison cardigan.

The only real tweak I made to the pattern this time around was to narrow the sleeves by another inch or so. I may have overdone it, at least in the not-overly-stretchy sweatshirt fleece, but I do like how they look.

The pockets are slightly different only because I couldn’t be bothered to pull out the Blackwood Cardigan pattern whose pockets I used last time—this time I just cut rectangles big enough to house my phone and hemmed the top edge. Oh, and I didn’t turn the edges under. I may never turn the edges under on knit patch pockets again.

For my black wool jersey version I left the cut edge raw, which is working well for that fabric, but though I love the drape and softness of the raw edge on the sweatshirt fleece, it was already starting to stretch and curl in less-than-ideal ways. So, after much testing, I settled on a three-needle coverstitch along the edges, with the differential feed raised the slightest bit to counter any stretching. I love the look, and if it does end up needing hemming in the end, I can do that later. Since I went with the three threads for the edge, I used them for hemming the pockets and sleeves as well. (And it is still curling a bit after the first wash, as you can see in the photos, but not enough to make me unhappy.)

In the end the result feels like a wearable blanket that actually looks elegant. I can throw it over leggings and a tank top and actually feel pretty and put together (well, assuming I can manage to do my hair as well, which is a bit of a stretch. Hence the headless photos). Which is exactly what my life is calling for these days. So I’m putting this one in the “win” category, even if it did take me almost two months to take even these poor photos.

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Oversized Sweaters

Long, long time readers may recall my husband’s enthusiasm for a simple white sweatshirt. If not, you can read up on it starting here. Anyway, it was probably inevitable that I would make some for the twins at some point.

In any case, this small chunk (not quite 1m) of just-slightly-off-white sweatshirt fleece presented itself to me a while back, but it took me a while to settle on a pattern. My vintage baby pattern is still MIA, Jalie 3355 only goes down to a 2T size, and my other option, a cute raglan sweater pattern from the 80s, the “size 1” was already bigger than the Jalie size 2. So Jalie it was.

There isn’t much to say about a sweatshirt beyond that. I did reverse-coverstitch the little V at the neck. I had a bit of agony over the choice of ribbing, since the just-barely-off-white fabric is right in between the colours of my white and ivory ribbing. I went with white, and I’m glad I did—in the never-quite-adequate light of my basement sewing area the colours are barely distinguishable, but upstairs in what passes for daylight the white is definitely better.

I very nearly added some Mickey Mouse appliqués Syo gave the twins for Christmas, but the packaging warned they weren’t washable so I may save them for a bag or a jacket or something.

They are a little huge, which hopefully means they’ll still fit next fall. This hasn’t stopped my husband and the older girls from stuffing the twins into them at every opportunity, so the laundry stain remover is getting a workout, but that was inevitable as we persist in the folly of putting white clothes on toddlers. I wish I had “better” photos, but here in toddler land I fear this is as good as it gets.

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Little scrap dresses

I didn’t plan to release this on New Years, but I certainly don’t have the brain space for the introspection required of a yearly round-up post! So I’ll just say this year I parented, survived, went back to work, and around the edges got to sew a little. And we survived a pandemic, so we’ll call that a win. Next year, I hope we can get back into routines that feel a little less desperate, and let me feel a little more like myself. Partly so I can be a better mom and breadwinner, but mostly because I like enjoying my life. Anyway, let’s get on with the sewing.

I had a fair bit of scrap print left over from the overalls, so while the machines were threaded with the right colour I figured I should use it up. I figured there was enough for the bodices of two little dresses, plus pockets, and I had some white interlock (the same stuff I used for the white cuffs on the overalls) kicking around, some of it in the form of a failed T-shirt I’d tried to make my husband a few years back. So one of the skirts was pre-hemmed!

My very Helpful Helpers

For the bodice, I just used the same vintage Stretch & Sew pattern, minus the extra swinginess I added for their Christmas shirts. . I have mislaid the original (probably buried in the Pile of fabric in the sewing room) or I would’ve traced out a larger size to have them last longer, but I think (hope) they’ll get us through the winter, anyway. The sleeves could be a bit longer. I made the bodice a slightly cropped length, which I hope will be cuter, and the skirts are just gathered rectangles, size dictated by the size of the T-shirt.

Inspiration dresses, not sewn by me.

The overall style is inspired by the RTW Hallowe’en dresses Tyo (or possibly her best friend) bought the twins for their birthday. They don’t have a lot of winter dresses so hopefully these come in handy.

I wanted some element of the print on the skirts, so I added the patch pockets. I love how big and droopy the rounded ones are—they might even be able to get a toy in there. I didn’t fold under the edges of the pocket—if it’s good enough for Tin Robin it’s good enough for me!

I was a little concerned about gathering the skirts to the bodice, but cotton knits are pretty well behaved and I added some clear elastic when serging the seam so it doesn’t seem inclined to stretch out.

Unlike the Christmas shirts, these are quite neatly sewn, if I do say so myself. So I’m pretty happy.

Getting good modeled pics is pretty hard at this stage. They’re always on the go, usually in a few different directions. Now if we can just keep the white skirts from getting hopelessly stained…

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Wee knock-off overalls

Among the hand-me-downs in the 12-month size bin, which I dug out at the end of last summer, was a particularly adorable set of stretchy overalls in a rayon jersey. The pattern was extremely simple, and I loved some of the construction details like the folded edges top stitched with a zig-zag.

So I was a little shattered when I put them on Tris for the first time and realized that I seemed to have missed my window of them fitting—-they seemed far too snug and pulled too much at the crotch, so that the stretchy open sides were pulled too far down, showing her diaper if she wore a regular shirt underneath.

I’ve since reassessed a bit, and I think the fit is supposed to be quite slim, relying on the stretch to keep everything in place, and they look better on River, who remains somewhat more scrawny (not that Tris is a chonky baby at all)… but what I was imagining in my head was a bit looser with a dropped crotch, and not relying on a diaper shirt to keep the diaper covered.

It was, however, an extremely simple dropped-crotch style pattern, perfect for tracing off. So I did. I made my first version in some more of that purple polyester fleece. The biggest difference from the source material, other than the fabric being completely different, was that I added about 2” of length between the bottom of the side scoop and the dropped crotch, and then about another 1” of length to the leg.

This solved the side-gaping issue, but made it clear that the original had relied on some tension in the fabric to keep the straps on the shoulders, which was lacking in my version, so they tend to slide off. So again, the issue may be my mental picture of how they should fit. Anyway, for the second iteration, I narrowed the shoulders a little bit, which will hopefully help with this issue while still giving a bit more of the “chubby loose fit” I wanted as opposed to the “skinny slinky fit” of the originals.

My second go is with an adorable printed cotton Lycra I found at Fabricland. Now, good cotton prints at Fabricland are rare as hen’s teeth, and it was a half price sale, so I couldn’t resist.

I used steam-a-seam to make sure the hemming around the upper parts was flawless (it felt a little odd not to be using my new coverstitch here but I really liked the zigzag detail of the originals.

And the pockets came directly from the cut-out between the legs, in a nod towards minimal waste patterning. I couldn’t decide between matching cuffs and plain white, and Tyo suggested one of each—I kind of love the detail! Although I think I would also have enjoyed plain white. That’s a lot of busy print.

It still might be fun to try this out in a slinky rayon like the original (I have lots of that cinnamon rayon for one thing…) We’ll have to see. For now, at least, I think they’re pretty frickin’ adorable.

Oh, and then I googled the brand of the original, Tin Robin, and it turns out they’re made by a small business in Manitoba… so I feel like a bit of a heel for knocking them off but also it’s not like the original was exactly what I wanted and it’s a pretty generic style of baby clothes… so I dunno. They are super cute and exquisitely stylish in that modern-hippie-minimalist kind of way, which I love but could never actually implement in my own life. And if you feel like spending money on a Canadian small business, I can definitely recommend the product—the fabric is delicious and the sewing is impeccable. And she does make adult sizes! But if your baby isn’t the string-bean type, maybe size up. You’ll want them to fit for a good long while anyway!

As for my versions, I think they’re comfortably different, and pretty close to what was in my head. The twins seem to like them, anyway. And hopefully those saggy crotches will get us a few months of wear.

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