Tag Archives: For Syo

Fleece Pants, Episode 3: Syo

 

Booyeah

Booyeah

Otherwise known as, “just because I have to be different.”

Although Syo has thoroughly enjoyed her Jalie 3022 shorts, she has no interest in flared yoga-pants, fleece or otherwise. She is a child of the skinny jean era. So I wasn’t planning on making her a pair. But, she has been asking for a pair of old-fashioned sweatpants, to wear to her hip hop dance class, where several moves seem to require tugging on sweatpants.

Simplicity 3714

Simplicity 3714

So instead, I pulled out Simplicity 3714, which sweater I had previously made. This time, I was going for the pants. Although I maintain that the half-bunnyhug is one of the cutest things my children have ever refused to wear. Now, it’s not entirely clear from the photo, but this, too, is a flared pattern. Not as obviously as the yoga pants, of course, but really, wtf was I thinking? Don’t answer that. I was thinking “I’m going to gather the ankle anyway, what does it matter?” and “I can just trim a bit off below the knee. It’ll be fine.”

And they are, I guess.

Simplicity

Simplicity

The fabric is a purple fleece I found at Value Village sometime last winter. Actually, it’s one of two pieces I found of the same fleece, on two separate occasions. Syo immediately laid claim to both, and the larger one is still serving as a blanket on her bed.

I cut the size 8 (which the pattern was conveniently already cut out to, saving me the effort of tracing), and added a bit of length (not that Syo is particularly long-legged), and for my peace of mind added a bit of height to the CB and shaved a bit off at the CF. And I made them up. Not a lot of thought, artifice, or anything. As a stunt, I topstitched both the inseam and outseam, which was really more effort than pants like this deserve.

Grommets for waist tie to come through.

Grommets for waist tie to come through.

The most complicated thing I did was interface the waistband with a knit interfacing, mostly as a support for grommets for a waistband drawstring. Speaking of which, I need to get a real drawstring, not just some flattened out bias tape. I wonder if I can find purple twill tape?

Fleece sweatpants

Fleece sweatpants

They seem to fit the bill, anyway although she pretty much never wears them except to dance class, and I suspect will never wear them for anything else once she’s done.

Next, though, she wants fleece leggings.

Ulp.

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Oonapants!! (Phase 1)

Oonapants

Oonapants!

A little while back, I was bemoaning the dearth of fun woolly tights, both in my wardrobe and in the world in general. Several people reminded me that funky leggings could probably suffice, in a pinch, and reminded me of Oona’s prowess in this department.

Kwik Sew

Kwik Sew 1288

Well, this idea niggled and wriggled, and the next thing I know I’ve traced out an old Kwik Sew leggings pattern (adding a snotload of length and shortening the rise in front only) and I’m diving through my stash for anything resembling funky knits. Keep in mind I rarely wear prints, much less wild and funky ones, and haven’t worn leggings since about 1992.

I eventually hunted up this blue fern frond spandex, probably originally swimsuit material, picked up at Value Village a while back. I had been thinking a stretch cheongsam, but, well, Oonapants called.

Back view

Back view

No sooner had I finished them, however, Syo (who, as mentioned, is a leggings purist at the moment), required her own pair. This was fairly easy to whip up, and she launched into wearing them with a wild abandon that would do Oona proud. Myself, I’m having a bit more trouble. They don’t coordinate with any of my dresses, most of which are wild and crazy (or just fluffy) enough on their own. Eventually, I figured I could try wearing them with my black tunic (the storebought inspiration for my Ariadne pattern, by the way), but I still feel like my hips need a bit more emphasis, or at least coverage. I feel top-heavy in just the tunic, not my favourite look.

Funkypants

Funkypants

My head filled with the vision of a simple, short-skirted dress in a simple black (stretch) twill. Now THAT I have in stash. Next thing I know, I’m perusing my patterns with a very specific image in my head: a short black sheath dress, preferably with cut-on capped sleeves and princess seams.

Gertie’s wiggle dress. I am lazy so I totally stole Oona’s photo here, too. Click for source

Eventually, I narrowed it down to the Wiggle Dress from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, which I have traced out. But with shorter everything—shorter sleeves, shorter skirt, shorter body. I have traced out the pattern, but I think I had better get back to my long-neglected plaid dress first.

If I don’t get completely distracted by fleece pants in the meantime… (note to self. Must get photos of fleece pants that aren’t grainy and awful.)

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Interlude

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Leggings for Syo.

Wimping out or taking a quick break? That is the question. This morning, rather than taking on the Dress of Irksomeness, I hunted around for a project that would be quick and satisfying, ideally that could be executed without changing the thread in the sewing machine. I settled, after rather more futzing than I care to admit, for Kwik Sew 1670, and (yet) another pair of leggings for Syo. The last ones I made her are probably the single most-worn item in her wardrobe this winter, since she’s decided she only wears leggings, and she could really use another pair. Well, another five pair, frankly. But we’ll start with one.

I re-traced the pattern and made a few changes this time. I had already narrowed the size 8 and lowered the rise in the front for a more “modern” fit. This time I lengthened the leg (the originals were drafted for 3/4 length, but frankly it’s full-length weather here, and will be a while yet, and I curved in a bit more in the thigh area, since they’d been a little loose there  in the past.

No cute motorcycle photos this time, alas.

 

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The Littlest Coin Bra

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Ok, technically this bra, worn by Tyo around her first birthday, was smaller. (Also, those red marks on her face are lipstick kisses. Tell me you could resist kissing that cuteness. Also, a rare pic of me with long-ish hair.)

But, this one’s still pretty darn small.

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Syo needed a coin bra for her ATS costume. You really need a coin bra for tribal, to the point where you almost can’t wear one without looking “Tribal” any more.

Now, for a “grown up” coin bra, you typically use a storebought bra and replace the straps. Since that really wasn’t going to work in this case, I decided to wing it. After consultation with Syo, we settled on some black flannel (her input: soft and comfy. My input: not stretchy. Stretch and coins do not play well together.)

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I copied the basic shape/scale from a bikini top she has, including a few accomodations. The triangles “slant” a bit towards the centre (to avoid gaping with the halter-ties). I added the world’s teensiest darts. And I interfaced one layer of fleece, and fusetaped the edges of the other, so none of that pesky diagonal stretching. Oh, I do love interfacing. It used to scare the bejeezus out of me, now I can’t live without it.

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Syo and Tyo added the decorations themselves, mostly leftovers from my own coin-bra making years ago. Although it’s really still rather bare, it was what we could come up with in a limited time-frame. I expect continuing improvements to be made. (Whenever I find the materials. I think they’re at my mom’s.)

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I have one more “tribal costume” installment, on the little top she’s wearing under the coin bra in the top picture, but I am hoping some photos of the performance will surface for me to share—it looks pretty cool all together, if I do say so myself. /sigh. Also, there were swords involved.

In other project news, I’ve got batting and fabric for my Uncle’s vest, but still have to hunt down a coordinating lining fabric for the pockets, back, etc. Preferably one that won’t make me want to stab myself in the eye while sewing it. My local Fabricland doesn’t have any Kasha, my favourite lining brand, in the right colour. And I am hoping to get some further jeans cut out, sooner rather than later.

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A tiered skirt workflow

Tiered skirt

Before I get into the meat of this post (the construction of a basic tiered skirt), allow me to philosophize a wee bit. Y’know the best thing about being home? I have my village back. You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, maybe it doesn’t, but life is sure a lot better when you have one, and not just for the free babysitting. Case in point? My dance class. I bellydance with what just might be one of the best groups of ladies in the universe. I’ve been involved with the troupe for over half my life at this point, and many others have been there longer.

Dancing c. 2005, dodging a very small Syo.

It’s the kind of class where I could bring my kids when they were babies and everyone would hand them off during practice. Where I could show up for street-fair performances with toddlers in tow and never worry that someone wouldn’t watch them while I danced. Where I can talk to the instructor about paying my fees this term in sewing. But the coolest thing since coming back has been the way my kids interact with the troupe now they’re older. Syo, in particular, has decided she wants to dance this year. Not just the kids class. Every class (well, every class that I go to). Which means that most of the costumes I have to make so far are for her, but anyway. It’s so neat to see her following along with the adults, and also the moments in between where one teacher or another takes a few moments to show her something we didn’t do in class, or go over something a bit more slowly.

Which ties into this post only because one of the costume pieces I’ve been making for Syo is a tiered skirt for American Tribal Style Bellydance. And while I’m sure most of you don’t have use for a ridiculously full tiered skirt, well, it’s exactly the same idea as making a crinoline or a fluffy petticoat. The only differences really are a matter of proportion, fabric choice, and fullness.

Fluffy petticoat

Now, this is not a particularly original concept for a post, and I know there’s some lovely tutorials out there (feel free to link your fave in the comments!). I particularly like this one by Sugardale, of the petticoat variety, for the fine finish she gets using ribbon to cover the seams. Zena has a nice post or three on her particularly painstaking (and super-well-finished) method. But I’ve made enough of these, at this point, that I feel like I have at least something to contribute in terms of what works, for me. (And I will confess to being much more slapdash and imprecise than either Sugardale or Zena.) This falls into basically two categories:

I) workflow
II) gathering techniques.

I’m going to talk about gathering techniques separately, so today I’m going to go into my workflow.

1) Design Decisions

Tiered skirt in action

A typical tiered skirt is a layer-cake of gathered rectangles of fabric, smallest at the top. The most common gathering ratio is 2:1—that is, each tier is twice as much fabric gathered on to the tier above it. There’s nothing sacred about this ratio, but it’s a handy starting place. How full (or poufy) your skirt is will be determined by several factors: 1) gathering ratio, 2) number of tiers, 3) fabric. I tend to cut (or rip, for preference) my tiers across the width of the fabric, so I tend to measure my fullness in terms of fabric widths. (Ideally 60″/150 cm)

So, how long do you want your skirt to be?
–A typical Tribal skirt goes from hip to floor. A typical petticoat, maybe from waist to knee. I’m told petticoats should be about 1″ shorter than the skirt they go with, if that’s what you’re trying for. Measure this distance on yourself.

A long, long time ago…

How many tiers?
A minimal tiered skirt has three tiers (two doesn’t work. I tried. It looks like a dumpy mermaid skirt). Personally, being a fan of excess, I like four or five or, y’know, nine. OK, 9 was maybe overkill. (Obviously: number of tiers interacts with your gathering ratio to create fullness: eg. at a 2:1 ratio, if your top tier is two widths and you have three tiers, you’ll have eight widths on the bottom tier. If you have four tiers, the same ratios will give you a bottom tier with 16 widths, unless you reduce the gathering ratio.

For Syo’s skirt, I picked four tiers. I planned for the top tier to be one fabric width (60″/150cm in this case), next tier down two fabric widths, ending up with eight at the bottom tier.

Divide your skirt length by the number of tiers

For Syo, this was: 28″/4—my tiers for Syo’s skirt needed to be 7″ high. Add width for two seam allowances to each tier—for simplicity’s sake, I’ll go with 1/2″ seam allowances, so I add 1″ to each tier. So I’m going to cut all my tiers 8″ high.)

Advanced Tip #1: Some people are particular about where the tiers fall on their body—there’s no rule they all have to be the same widths. It just makes the calculations a bit more complicated. Similarly if you want to allow for a waistband casing on the top tier, or a wider or narrower hem on the bottom tier.)

This skirt has seven or eight tiers and thirty-two fabric widths along the bottom tier. This is overkill.

How full at the hips?
My first few skirts I made as narrow at the top as I could. I’ve since decided this isn’t actually the best look, especially if your tiers are tall (or, like me, your hips need all the help they can get). For Syo here, I used one fabric width for the top tier; I’d probably do this for myself if I made another skirt, at least if the fabric was 60″ wide. If you’re quite large, one and a half widths or even two would be good.

Advanced Tip #2: If you’re concerned with bulk at the hips, you could make your top tier circular or semi-circular. You will have to correct for some bias stretching, but this is a really nice look. This also uses a bit more fabric.

Full Skirt

How full at the hem?

A “typical” ATS tiered skirt is sometimes called a ten-yard skirt—it has ten yards of fullness at the hem. A petticoat could have much less, a crinoline much more. I actually prefer my ATS skirts much more full, in the 20+ yard range. Note that this is just the length of the bottom tier, not how many yards of fabric are required, although skirts like these are still fabric pigs.

Anyway, for Syo’s skirt, I didn’t want to go too overboard (as I have in the past for myself), but I also didn’t want to skimp. I decided to stick with my default gathering-ratio to determine the number of tiers at the hem:

2:1 gathering ratio, 4 tiers

1 width
2 widths
4 widths
8 widths

Since my fabric was 60″/150 cm wide, this will give me a final hem of 13.3 yards/12 metres. Just over my “bare minimum” of ten yards.

Advanced tip #3: depending on the fabric, it can be just as easy to construct your skirt using strips cut lengthwise from your fabric. I find it easier to do the calculations (especially determining how much fabric I need) using widths, but on the other hand there’s less joining together of panels of fabric if you use one or two long lengths rather than eight or ten or twenty short ones.

A very minimal tiered skirt

So, how many fabric widths is that?

8+4+2+1=15.

I will need to be able to rip/cut fifteen strips from my fabric length.

Now, how much fabric do I need?
15 widths x 8″ high = 120″ = 10′ = ~3m. (Ooo, look what I did, switching to metric like that. I wish I had the self-discipline to do it all in metric. I think Imperial is kind of like a drug… awkward and bad for you, but you keep coming back to it…)

I would, however, recommend buying a bit more fabric than strictly necessary. At least one extra tier’s worth. Sometimes, not everything works out according to the math. You may also want to add a waistband casing on the top.

Construction
There are many ways you could go about constructing a skirt like this—mine is what works for me psychologially.

1) Cut fabric
First, I cut or rip my fabric into panels (I’ll keep calling them widths) of the right height. If I can at all possibly rip the fabric, I will, but for this project I was using satin (oh, how I hate satin) and I had to cut.

For this project, I was using two different fabrics—I cut the eight widths for the bottom tier from the purple satin and the remaining seven widths from the black satin.

I always start with the bottom tier—it’s the most daunting, by far, and once it’s complete the skirt is over half done!

2) join panels together.
Join enough panels to make your bottom tier. For troubleshooting reasons, I usually don’t do all the tiers at once.

Finish the seams as you go, using your preferred method (mine is to use the selvedges so I don’t need to finish them. 😉 )

NOTE: I do all the construction for a tiered skirt flat—I will sew the single vertical seam turning it into a “tube” (cone?) almost dead last.

3) hem bottom edge.
I use a rolled hem foot on a regular sewing machine; if your serger does a fancy, easy rolled hem, that would work fine, too. Or, of course, lace or ribbon if you’re making a petticoat. This is a great chance to practice your rolled-hem technique, though, as a) a perfectly straight edge is the easiest to hem, and b) over this many feet of hem, you really won’t care about the odd booboo later.

4) Gather upper edge of bottom tier.
I use a ruffler attachment for this stage. I’ll talk more about the particulars of the different gathering techniques in the future. If you don’t have a ruffler foot, I’d recommend using a zigzag casing gathering technique, which I’ll also talk about next post.

Testing the gathering ratio.

5) Measure gathered length, and make next tier up accordingly.
This only really applies if you’re using a ruffler foot, which produces a gathered length of a fairly fixed ratio. Otherwise just make up your next tier, and arrange the gathers on it.

6) Attach gathered bottom tier to next tier up.
On a ruffler foot, it is actually possible to do steps 4 and 6 together. I don’t usually do this, mostly because I’m chickenshit. Also I feel more secure having two rows of stitching in place. Finish the seam allowance using your preferred method.

Fancy topstitching

Advanced tip: I really like a bit of topstitching to hold my seam allowance up… it smooths things out and tidies the inside. In this case I got to play with embroidery stitches on the fancy machine, so WOOT!

7) Repeat steps 4-6 until all tiers are attached.

8) Sew vertical seam along whole length of skirt. Finish as desired.

9) add elastic/drawstring casing to top edge of skirt.

10) Wear, and sweep them off their feet! 🙂

Ooo lala!

Troubleshooting
I mentioned above not making your next tier up until the lower one has been gathered. This applies if you’re using a ruffling attachment, or using a differential feed on your serger. Although the ratio of gathering it outputs is adjustable and you can (and should) do some tests to make sure your ratio is roughly correct before you start, often (always) there is a slight discrepancy between your calculated gathered length and your actual gathered length. This isn’t the end of the world, but it does require a bit of finessing. I usually make my next tier up to match my actual length, which can involve adding a bit more fabric or shortening the tier by a little bit. A few inches one way or another is NOT going to affect the final look of your project. (Although ask me about the time what I thought was a 2:1 ratio turned out to be more like a 4:1 ratio…)

In this particular case, it turned out I only had enough of the purple satin to make seven panels, not the eight I had planned for. I used a slightly lower gathering ratio… and really no one will ever notice a difference.

The other thing that can be a bit of a wild-card is length, partly because of some simplifications I made in the calculations (not accounting for hem depth or added width for an elastic casing on the top tier), but mostly, in my experience, having to do with how much a fabric stretches under the weight of all those tiers, or shortens (visually) as it poofs out, in the crinoline variety. The easiest way to adjust the length of a tiered skirt is on the top tier, by removing (pretty obvious) or adding length—usually just adding a casting or waistband to the top is enough for the kind of adjustments I’m talking about.

And finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. Tiered skirts of any variety are exercises in excess—there is a lot of fabric involved, a lot of hems, a lot of poof. Small flaws in your hemming or slightly uneven gathering will not be noticeable.

Whew!

Whew! That’s a lot of post. And a lot of memories. Not exactly a tutorial… but that’s how I do it.

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Hallowe’en Roundup

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Actual Hallowe’en photo

Okay, why is it so hard to get good Hallowe’en photos? every year I vow that I will, and every year I end up with a couple of fuzzy shots of kids running away to the next house while trick-or-treating. >_<

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The best actual Hallowe’en picture.

Anyway, I’d say the Steampunk costumes were a success, at least as costumes. As costumes for Hallowe’en in Saskatchewan… not so much. I think the last several years in balmy southern Alberta kind of messed with my head in the Hallowe’en-costume-planning department. Note To Tanit: Saskatchewan Hallowe’en costumes should be: showing NO skin, ideally can cover a snow suit. Scarves are a bonus.

It took me the better part of a month to work up the energy to wrangle the girls back into costume (and makeup), and at this point I’m really too tired of all of it to do much introspection. Which is too bad, because there’s probably a fair bit left to say, if only about the jackets.

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Yes, so late the Christmas tree is already up.
(Note—I didn’t put the tree up.)

OK, I know you pretty much saw that one already. Anyway, prepare for pretty much a photo essay, with minimal commentary.

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Tyo, giving me crap for taking the photos so late.

Pocket watches were an important elements of the costumes.

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A long-awaited closeup of Syo’s hat

I must confess, I think Syo’s hat with the painted holly berries actually crosses the seasons nicely.

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Syo’s pocketwatch. All pocketwatches courtesy of my mother. (Without whom these costumes really wouldn’t have happened, I think.)

The tailcoats were adapted from the much-maligned McCall’s 5312.  Originally Syo didn’t want one, but it turned out the size 10 was too small for Tyo, and Syo consented to wear it (thankfully, as she would’ve been even colder than she was already without it). She’s been wearing it at least weekly since, so I think that’s a win.

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Tailcoat and monocle.

Syo requested an internal pocket for her pocketwatch. Tyo didn’t, but I should’ve included one anyway. Oops.

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Internal pocketwatch pocket.

Syo’s monocle actually turned out really cool (and had an actual magnifying lens, too). It’s made from an old earring and some kind of jeweller’s loupe. Unfortunately it spent the entire actual Hallowe’en tucked in a pocket with the pocketwatch.

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Syo with monocle

I had a lot of fun painting the jackets with black, brown, and silver. Why? Well, mostly because. Also, it was fun. I lined the jackets with this fun printed quilted lining fabric I picked up at Value Village on a whim sometime last spring—it was one of those things I really wasn’t sure I should ever have bought, since it’s right on the border between awesome (a cool print) and horrible (quilted lining is one of those things I generally loathe). However, it really came into its own here, I think—giving body to the  wimpy suiting fabric I was using for the shells, and adding much-needed warmth. Seriously, I can’t believe how long my kids wore these outside. It was -7C, -14C with the wind chill, and we were out for almost three hours, with only a couple of warm-up stops.

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Jackets. Also, I want to eat your brains. But your hat first.

My mom offloaded generously gave us a bag of old stenciling supplies a week or two before Hallowe’en, including a lovely, delicate rose stencil. I couldn’t resist adding it to the coats in a couple of places. I just used the same acrylic paint I used on the rest of the coats. I don’t particularly expect a lot from this down the road, but it served the purpose at the time.

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Painted jacket: ruffle trim and stenciled rose.

I think that’s about enough. I added length to the sleeves of the coats, and the tails, of course. I think I didn’t get the button positioning quite right, as the lapels (which I interfaced) rolled nicely but sat better before I put the buttons on.

And now, on to more recent things. I have a backlog building up, as those (few) of you following on twitter or instagram probably know already…

Of course, none of it’s been for me. *pout*

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Hallowe’en Spotlight: lace-up leather shorts

Lace-Up Shorts

It’s been a Hallowe’en sweatshop around here for the last little while. Last weekend was devoted to, as Steph of 3 Hours Past has put it, sewing with hammers. I spent Sunday with the kids at my mother’s, working on the goggles, and also Syo’s lace-up shorts. Rivets and grommets and wire, oh my.

I was already using McCall’s 5312 for the kids’ tailcoats (more on that later), so I decided to use the pants also included in that crime of a pattern.

Cutest pattern ever?

OK, I’ve whined about McCall’s 5312 before. Despite their supremely cute illustration, these McCall’s “Sassy Girl” patterns are dumbed down almost to the point of not being worth the time, IMO. I hate dumbed-down, simplified patterns.*

On the other hand, that makes them perfect for costume patterns, right? This might be why I hate making costumes…

Anyway, since I had the pattern out, I figured it would be a good candidate for Syo’s shorts—basic pants, no pockets, no waistband to worry about.

Laces!

I traced off the size 7 as shorts, and cut them out from my fake leather. This was my first time working with vinyl, and not being able to pin really threw me for a loop. It’s funny, because I tend to think I don’t use pins much. Well, working on this high lighted every single instance I reach for them. Closepins were helpful, but not really satisfying. I made about half the shorts on my machine, and half over at my mother’s; her old Pfaff has one thing none of my machines have—a roller foot. It made a BIG difference in sewing with the vinyl, especially for the topstitching bits. Topstitching was essential since I couldn’t exactly press this stuff in any meaningful way. I also used a lot of Wonder Tape.

Back darts

I used a very quick ‘n dirty pants-fitting method for these where I sewed them up sans darts and then added the rear darts by pinching to fit. I skipped the front darts, which really don’t make any sense to me when fitting any kind of a rounded tummy—something I’d say about 90% of kids have. Though, I don’t think the darts I wound up sewing are hugely different from the original pattern darts. And, yes, they’re pointy. I’m not worrying myself about it.

Front view

To make the laced sides, I just folded over the edge about 2 cm (I ended up folding the front edges over a further 2 cm) to make the placket, topstitched, and added a “modesty panel” attached to the back side. She was not thrilled about this, having wanted “real lacing,” which apparently doesn’t have fabric behind it. She can deal, at least until she’s eighteen. Not that she would ever not be wearing leggings and tights underneath for a Hallowe’en costume. This is Canada, after all. And not one of the warmer bits of Canada. (Although comfortingly free of both earthquakes and hurricanes. I hope all you easterners are doing OK with Sandy.)

Grommets

We added the grommets last. Actually, Syo did the front grommets more-or-less on her own, since by then my fingers were so sore from setting the back ones (plus all the goggle-making). It took her a while, but she got them done, only one ending up a bit distorted. I’m not sure why I am always startled by her strength and coordination. You’d think I’d have it figured out by now.

Back View

I don’t know if it’s a “good fit”, but they stay on, come up more or less to where she wanted them, and the gap between the lacing is a good width. So, really, I should probably apologize to McCall’s 5312. It really came through for me this time.

Except that I just made two tailcoats out of the jacket pattern, and, well, I’ll go into that later. Not horrific, just dumbed down and predictably bad.

And, sorry for the fuzzy iPhone photos. My mom’s house has gorgeous backdrops but terrible light, and I keep forgetting to take my real camera along.

*Note: I have nothing against simple patterns, where simple is called for. What annoys me is patterns for intricate designs that are simplified to make them “easier”, generally at the expense of fit and style.

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