Tag Archives: For the Waif

Jammie Pants

McCall's 6641

McCall’s 6681

Over Christmas, I was wanting to do a wee bit of sewing for my children, but by wee I do mean wee since I had about as much free time as I ever do lately, which is on the order of a few hours ever other week. For Tyo, stretchy cozy PJ pants seemed to fit the bill, but they needed to be as simple as possible. Even the Sewaholic Tofino pattern, which has to be one of the cutest PJ-pants patterns out there, and is sitting patiently in my stash, seemed too complicated.

So, after a bit of stash rummaging, I settled on McCall’s 6681, a Stitch ‘n Save pattern that I can’t quite decide if it’s cute, or just dated and butt-ugly. Anyway, the bottoms were a completely basic PJ trouser, which is what I was looking for. As it turned out they’re a teeny bit tapered, which I thought might suit the kids these days.

Batpants!

Batpants!

Despite the deliciously-soft panda fabric featured throughout this post, the first Christmas pair was made with Batman fleece. This was a rare score, indeed, since Fabricland has had mostly bugger all for licensed anything the last couple of years, so I had to snaffle it up when I saw it, since this year Tyo is All Batman All The Time. I’m not terribly into taking on pop-culture as totem or mascot, myself, but, well, I suppose there are worse mascots she could adopt than Batman. And this was a LOT easier than the Pikachu onesie.

Now, while one of the major downsides of having a teenage daughter is her ability to steal your clothes, in making these as a present, it became a bit of a boon—I made them to fit me, just a little bit shorter. It worked fairly well, though I should’ve made the waist a bit more snug—not sure if that’s to be blamed on my comparatively-larger waist (do you see the hips on that kid?), or the way the elastic stretches out a bit in sewing. Anyway, they aren’t going to fall off. And she was very, very happy with them.

So, when I finally dug out this panda fleece (purchased a year ago last fall, originally for Tyo before she came down with a bade case of Pikachuitis) to make a pair of comfy pants for Fyon’s birthday (who is eight now, by the way, how the hell did that happen?), I figured I should make Tyo a pair too, for old time’s sake, even if pandas are so year-before-last. Since I had the pattern all ready to go ‘n everything.

The pandas will get you if you don't watch out!

The pandas will get you if you don’t watch out!

So I did.

Tyo-fitting pattern changes

Tyo-fitting pattern changes

Being the second make, I tweaked the pattern a bit, finalizing the changes I’d made to the rise the first time. I make these changes kinda preemptively to a lot of pants patterns, especially when I know they were designed for a higher rise in the front than I like. (I’ve become comfortable with a very uneven rise, nice and high for lots of coverage in the back, dipping low in the front to sit under the belly. Tyo seems to like it too, but it makes it really hard to wear most storebought pants and leggings. For this pair, I added a bit of length (depth? I always forget which it is) to the back crotch, as well, just for good measure.

The front.

The front. I forgot to get her to hike her shirt so you could actually see the rise.

Now, I’m certainly not going to be a fit-Nazi about some baggy PJ pants, but I am pretty pleased with how they turned out, anyway. No smiles and straining, but not so huge she’s swimming in them. How much can be credited to my alterations and how much to the fact that these are loose PJ pants, I don’t really know (I suspect mostly the latter, though.) And no, I didn’t even try to pattern-match panda-faces across her butt.

The back.

The back. Also, why can’t I have hips like that? /momsulk

The back hangs almost straight, and the rise is nice and high.

The side.

The side. You can kinda see the angle of the waistband under her shirt.

The best thing about PJ pants like these is how damn fast they are to put together. These didn’t take more than an hour all told (it helped that the pattern was ready to go, mind you), and I also managed to churn out a couple of fuzzy pants for Fyon and the Waif. And I think I have just enough panda fabric left to make some 3/4-length comfies for Syo.

Small fuzzy pants

Small fuzzy pants

There’s only one problem: Osiris is now wondering where his panda pants are.

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Lots of little leggings

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Jalie 2920 Leggings

Jalie 2920 is getting a lot of love around here. Maybe because a pattern with just one piece is about my speed these days. Stylish helpfully traced the sizes for her girls out, so when I had a smidgeon of downtime I found myself cranking out a couple. If I spent half an hour on either of these I’d be surprised. I feel a bit bad because I probably should’ve left the fabric for Stylish to practice on… but there’s enough left to make a couple more pairs, anyway.

I’m a little bit perplexed with this pattern, though. I get that it’s designed to stretch in length as well as width, and for snug, extra-stretchy fabrics…   well, I dunno. This purple is NOT such a fabric. I mean, it’s a pretty nice, beefy knit. The amount of stretch is good. But it’s definitely not a four-way stretch. When tracing, I had Stylish give lots of extra room in the leg length, to compensate for this. I used the longest lengths here, and I’m glad I did. The Waif’s are a little long, but she seems to grow up rather than out, so that’s probably a good thing, and Fyon’s are spot on. And that’s five or six extra inches beyond the pattern’s “proper” lengths. Well, the length dictated by their heights, anyway. The Waif’s pair are a size 2(F), lengthened to the five length and then beyond. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her in a pair of pants that wasn’t way loose and baggy on her.

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The Waif, Tyo, and Fyon in their new leggings

This was after I had attempted to make myself another set of leggings from some luverly denim-look knit I’ve been sitting on and petting since I acquired it around New Year’s. The whole bolt at my local Fabricland recently got marked down to half price and I’m having a hard time not rushing in and buying up the whole damn thing. I used the same Jalie 2920 as for my black leggings. However, peeps, this is where those stretch gauges on the patterns become important. This stuff is stretchy, but not leggings-type stretchy. Length was not an issue, but while I could wriggle into them, well, um, let’s just say that it was putting undue stress on the fabric. D’oh.

Fortunately, as with the fleece pants, I have a suitable candidate with a derriere just a little bit smaller than my own handy in the house, so Tyo now has her first pair of jeggings. I guess I had better enjoy that while it lasts… we just had to buy her a whole new crop of skinny jeans, as the ones she got in September are getting too snug. (This is why I don’t make her jeans very often any more). The time until her hips surpass mine may be measured in months rather than years at this point. Oh, you cursed curvaceous pears.

I guess I just need to get some more denim-look knit for myself. /sniffle.

Anyone else addicted to deadly simple projects? I swear I’ll do something actually interesting one of these days…

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Baby Steps

New Look 6641

I salvaged this pattern from an assortment of sadly bedraggled sewing paraphernalia that belonged to the late grandmother of a friend of my husband’s. Let’s just say that it was a bit of a sobering look at what I don’t want to leave behind for my heirs to deal with when I go. This pattern was one of the few that was reasonably intact (actually, completely unused) and not 80s-old-lady-esque. It’s also size 3-8, which puts it borderline small for my children but pretty much perfect for Stylish’s.

The fabric, on the other hand, is one my aunt offloaded kindly donated to me a year or so ago. It’s a polyester sweatshirt knit of, yes, unmistakable 80s vintage, and I’m pretty sure I remember my cousins wearing properly oversized unisex sweatshirts out of this exact fabric in the closing days of that nefarious decade.  It’s really not the right material for the pattern, but it’s fuzzy, soft (at least for a few more launderings), and was a handy stable knit for Stylish’s first stab at knit sewing. And free and taking up space. And her girls thought it was ace for nighties. Kids these days.

The Waif Models

Stylish did this one all on her own—the most I helped with was a bit of the pinning. Oh, and on the construction order. I had her put the sleeves in flat. Much, much easier. Although she is understandably annoyed about how I keep making her read pattern instructions, and then telling her to ignore them.

I had her trace the size three (smallest in the pattern), with the expectation that it would be a bit roomy on the Waif (who is currently four and a half with the chest-diametre of a kids size 1.) The sweatshirt material is not as stretchy as called for on the envelope stretch gauge. A pro for this pattern is that the neck band is nicely shorter than the neck opening (although the length difference was too big for this particular fabric and Stylish wound up with some little tucks that I did not make her fix). A con is that the neck band is way too wide. One of those things where the proportions are just off, in a way that screams “home sewing.” (Yes, another of those legitimacy things. I kind of love cataloguing them.) The fabric choice doesn’t help with this. The Waif is not at all bothered, however. In fact, the only one not happy with the situation is the Waif’s older sister, Fyon (five going on six), who has had to wait impatiently a whole three days now for her mother to make one for her. It’s a harsh and untenable situation. Probably there’s something in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child against it.

Also, Stylish used the rolled hem foot on the sleeve ruffles, and turned up the bottom of the dress hem using my hem gauge, and stitched them both with a precision that is entirely disgusting and uncalled for in a second project. We didn’t try to match the stripes on the side-seams, but were fairly careful about the placement along the sleeves. And neck band, but then we put it on (and I did the pinning so this is actually my fault) inside out so our nicely-aligned stripe is totally invisible.

What I didn’t have her do was any really knit-specific techniques, other than using a lightningbolt stitch for stretchiness (her fancypants machine has all kinds of stitches to choose from.) I think I’m afraid she will want to steal my serger, which really only came to me because Stylish didn’t seem likely to use it (it was originally her mother’s machine.) Not that I wouldn’t mind a serger upgrade, but that really, really, really isn’t in the budget at the moment.

Anyway, the most important people in the equation—Stylish and her Waif—are happy. So all is well in Sewingland. Except with Fyon; hopefully she’ll get her 80s nightie soon. Somehow the long weekend got away from us…

(To those of you wondering at the degree of Stylish’s sewing addiction commitment… while I can’t, of course, guarantee the future, she has purchased several patterns of her own, plundered my stash, and bought fabric for a winter coat. So at least for the short term, I’d say she’s hooked.)

(In my own sewing news, I am wearing a very comfy pair of fleece Jalie yoga pants I’ll write up as soon as I can blackmail a child, or sister-in-law, into taking photos. I miss my photo-spot in our old basement. I also miss my tripod and my camera charger. /sigh.)

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Prezzies (1)

Tiny sundresses

I confess: I finished up my Last Sundress, and what did I do?

Turned around and made two more.

At least these ones aren’t for me—they’re for my little nieces. And they give me a chance to use some of the really insanely cute vintage kids’ patterns I’ve picked up, that my kids are just not going to go for.

Style 2304

Let’s start with Style 2304, which is intended for my younger niece. Is that not the epitome of 70s-kid-cute?

So I was a little worried about starting with a regular size 4 pattern; this is the Waif we’re talking about, who is four but probably still newborn in width. I decided, upon cutting it out, that it was way too wide, and shaved a couple of inches off by adding a pleat at CF and taking a bit off at the back. Because the yoke was now narrower, I narrowed the straps by a similar amount. So the look is a bit different—longer relative to its width, and more delicate—than I think I was really going for. And I didn’t want to shorten the length because I know my stylish sister-in-law doesn’t really like how short a lot of the vintage kids patterns are, but combined with the narrowed-ness and the ruffles, I kinda feel like it looks a bit more little-house-on-the-prairie than I had intended. Not quite my favourite look. I suppose I can always shorten it later if desired.

Buttons

I went with buttons in the back. I had three not-exactly-matching red buttons fished out from the random button stash, but when I went to stitch them on the plastic between the the holes of one was, ah, missing. Meaning the thread fell straight through. Not exactly a useful button to hold on to, button stasher. So now I’m a button short; I’ll have to go through and see what else I can come up with.

I must admit, I kind of broke my brain adding the piping and the little ruffle sleevelets on this one. In the end I resorted to finishing the inside of the armscye by hand.

I like that the amount of gathering under the yoke is really minimal (even with me lopping a couple of inches off the yoke and leaving the skirt piece the same.).

And I think that is about as much as I have to say about that dress. Under the fine old academic principle of the Minimum Publishable Unit, I’ll tell you about the even-cuter Simplicity 1149… next time!

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The littlest jeans… EVER.

teensy tiny jeans

I didn’t sew for my kids when they were little. I think I made one sundress-type-thingy for Tyo when she was two, and as sundress-thingies go, it was not impressive. So sewing in these extremely small sizes is a bit new to me.

But, a few weeks before Christmas, my Stylish Sister-in-Law happened to mention that she has a terrible time finding pants for her youngest daughter, who is one of those waifish children with the waist-size of a one-year-old and the leg-length of, well, at least a two year old. (Seriously, child is 3.5 years right now and hasn’t broken 30 lbs. Maybe not even 25. I’m pretty sure Tyo was that weight at a year.)

Pocketses

Now, unfortunately, this conversation didn’t take place enough before Christmas that I could actually put together a pair of very little (but relatively long) jeans as a present for the Waif. But now that I’m home and seeking fresh avenues for procrastination, it seemed like the perfect project.

Also, I got to try an experiment—how many sewing machines can you use on one pair of jeans?

The answer, at the moment, is three, plus the serger. If that weren’t the absolute maximum number of machines I can have set up at any one time, it might well have been more.I did the main construction on my Featherweight, and the topstitching and embroidery on the “new” Pfaff 360. The upside of using the Pfaff for the topstitching (and it has an excellent straight stitch, even with no straight-stitch plate) is that I can switch it to zig-zags for the bar-tacks without having to re-thread anything. The downside of this is that the tension settings for a straight stitch with topstitching thread (very high) vs. a zig-zag stitch with topstitchings thread (much lower) are very different, and I kept forgetting to switch back. So I had to re-stitch several areas, and wasted a lot of precious topstitching thread in the process. At least it’s easy to pick out when there’s huge loops on the back because the tension was too low. I used the White for a regular-thread zig-zag to attach the front yoke to the front pocket lining, since that was easier than re-threading the Pfaff (or I told myself it was…). If I’d gone with applique embelishment, I would probably have used the White for that, too. (Incidentally, while I still love my modern, basic Janome, it’s so very, very nice to have machines that can handle the tension required for topstitching through denim.)

Now, kids jeans are fun. Not so much because they’re little (although that doesn’t hurt), but because you can use the most whimsical, off-the-wall details. And jeans, let’s face it, are all about the details. The basic construction is both monotonous and intermittently fiddly—adding the details is where the fun comes in.

Embroidered hearts

After some experimentation, I settled on free-motion embroidery and flat “piping” for this particular pair.  I opted to use the remnant of fabric from my Cream Spice Capris of last summer, since neither of my children seem particularly intrigued by it and I won’t be the one who has to keep them clean.*

The pattern, as always, is Jalie 2908. I cannot explain to you how awesome it is that the Jalie patterns come in umpteen sizes. For the Waif, I traced off the size 2 (F, the smallest size), but used the size 3 (G) length. I then re-checked my measurements and realized that the hip measurement I had for her (49 cm) is well below the hip-size of the 2 (56 cm), even allowing for any growth she might have done in the four months or so since I measured her. (However, as I discovered sewing my first pair of jeans for Tyo, you do want to go a bit big for the kids sizes in this pattern, if only so they don’t outgrow them in five minutes. Although again, I’m curious if this is the same in the really little patterns or if they’re drafted with more ease. The picture of the girl on the pattern envelope certainly looks like her jeans have a lot more ease than the adult version.) So I took 1 cm lengthwise tucks out of the back and front pattern pieces (avoiding the pockets to make my life easier), which should reduce the width by 4 cm total, a reasonable amount.  I forgot to narrow the back pockets by the same amount, which did come bite me in the ass later, but we’ll get to that.

To change things up,

After some experimentation and a lot of trial stitching, I hit on my strategy for embellishment. For the piping, I made some bias roughly 3 cm wide and folded it in half. I tested adding a cord, but decided I liked a flat, soft insert better—a little more flexible for the small niece, although it is a bit trickier to get even and it comes out a little wide. I played around with applique, but wasn’t satisfied with the look with my particular thread and fabric colours. Maybe when I make a pair for Waif’s older sister, Fyon. Instead, I went with some freehand embroidery hearts. I outlined each heart once or twice, for a sketchy, crayon-drawing sort of look. Also, that’s about all I’m capable of for freehand embroidery. Not my forte (although I’m sure hooping the fabric and doing the embroidery first would probably improve things at least somewhat. As it was, I ironed wash-away stabilizer onto the back of the denim, used the same little foot and settings as my mending extravaganza, and went to town.

Now here’s the thing. I could have gone with a more precise design (perhaps not hearts) and created more-computer-quality-looking embroidery. Personally, I rather like the freehand/wobbly look (and there are plenty of jeans out there that have machined versions of this look). But it’s one of those things that could, in the right eyes, just make these cute little jeans look tacky and home-made. Not so much because they’re on jeans, but because they’re on homemade jeans. I’m choosing to reject this opinion; hopefully Stylish will, too.

Waistband inside with buttonhole elastic.

I made some other alterations that are kinda standard at this point for making 2908 kids’ jeans. I curved in the yoke a bit more (easy since I was already putting a tuck in it), although not as much as I often do as Waif’s bottom is considerably less curvaceous than, say, Tyo’s. (She seems  to take after her father in the that department, as Stylish, her mother, is the embodiment of what I think Tyo’s going to look like when she grows up. At least from the neck down.). I cut the waistband in long, narrow pieces rather than short, wide pieces with a back seam, and used my pocketing/piping fabric for the inner facing. This reduces bulk, but mostly I just like the flash of colour it adds to the inside. I bound the bottom of the band with more bias tape, as that’s every so much easier than trying to fold it under and have things come out nicely. And, I added buttonholes to insert adjustable buttonhole elastic, easily the best invention for kids’ pants in the last 20 years. (Tyo is going to have such a hard time finding pants that fit once she outgrows the ones that come with buttonhole elastic)

Excessively tiny change pocket. The blue smudges on the fly are my wash-away marker, and will wash out.

I remembered this time to add a change-pocket, although given the teensy-weensy size of the jeans it’s strictly decorative. I opted for piping only along the top of the rear pockets, and did a much better job of finishing the edges of it this time—you need to fold the ends over at a 45° angle so that once everything’s in place and stitched down there’s a smooth edge and no joogly bits sticking up. As per usual, I positioned my pockets after stitching the CB seam, so they’d be centred around the topstitching rather than around the rear seam itself.

However.

Pocket colliding with side-seam. Oopsie.

Remember how I said I didn’t shrink the pockets when I narrowed the red of the pants?

This, combined with the general tininess of the jeans, means once the outseam was all stitched up, the 1-cm (or less) offset on the one side was enough to put the left pocket right against the side-seam, while there’s about 1 cm of space between pocket and side-seam on the right.

Oops.

Erm.

I am not going to try to fix this, even if I could. But note to self—when smallening a pattern, smallen** the pockets, too. Even when you’re lazy.

Final details. I decided to try a heavy-duty snap for the front closure, as several of the children of my acquaintance seem to prefer these (let’s face it, the traditional jeans fly with button for small and even medium-sized kids is not really a good idea). I always find snap-insertion a bit haphazard, and I’m a little worried it will pop open, but I suppose time will tell.

As I did on the Cream Spice Capris, I added piping to the edge of the belt-loops, just to look pretty.

And as that’s probably way more than ANYONE wants to read about a pair of jeans for a preschooler, I’ll sign off.

*Lest you accuse me of cruelty to my sister-in-law, I’ll point out that I am making it for my younger niece, so she won’t have to try to keep it unstained through two whole children. Also, she dresses them in white pants all the time, so really she’s asking for it. But then she’s a lot more together on the whole “homemaking” thing than I am…

**I can make up words if I want to.

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