Tag Archives: kids’ clothes

Sweet Finale


OK, I promise this is the last on this little dress. Once again, pattern Y1111 from Young Image Magazine, from their first issue, Summer 2011.

Snug. (and that’s the zipper side! 🙂 )

I made the size 128, as per Syo’s chest measurement, however I did lose a small amount of width due to taking slightly larger seam-allowances on the skirt gores. I don’t imagine it was more than one or two centimetres around the whole dress, though, so the dress is very close fitting to begin with. We can just barely get it zipped up around Syo.

Unfortunately, my old camera didn’t want to focus on anything more than a foot away.

Which, of course, she thinks is absolutely perfect.

Side view

I also lengthened the skirt by about 4 cm. It now comes to just below her knees. If I had been actually trying to fit it to her, a small swayback adjustment would’ve been in order. Or, y’know, a bit more ease for that bottom.



The hem.

Ok, I am now officially completely out of things to say about this dress. Definitely time for a dress for me.


Filed under Sewing

Twee Whee Wheedle Wheet


This is a sweet little dress.

A very, very sweet little dress. Too saccharine to have any business anywhere near either of my children, frankly (although Syo will probably bat her eyelashes at you to confuse the issue.)

Once again, this is Young Image Magazine pattern Y1111, from their inaugural issue. My first installation of wittering on the dress is here.

Looking at the photos and the line drawing, one has the impression of a rather complicated dress, but there are actually only four pattern pieces: front bodice, back bodice, skirt panel (gore, if you prefer), and front overlay. And a few instructions for making the ruffle and ties for the shoulders and the drawstring, not that I actually paid attention to them. I will confess, once I had figured out basic things like how many of the skirt pieces needed to be cut out (five pairs, by the way) and where to put the zipper, I didn’t look back at the instructions. I did improvise a fifth piece, for the skirt lining, but in hindsight I could’ve just used the front overlay piece and fudged a normal hem curve. I realized this right after I finished laboriously tracing the skirt panel five times to get a five-gore width. (Then I realized I only needed a two-and-a-half-gore-width if I cut it on the fold. *headdesk*)

As with Burda, you do need to add seam allowances to the patterns. I know some brave seamstresses who just eyeball these, or use little gizmos like the seam-measurers; I am not so brave, and add them on the tissue.

Bodice chevrons (back view)

Being the brilliant thing that I am, I decided I was going to try and do chevron stripes on the bodice. Not being completely idiotic, I decided I would underline the bias bodice pieces with some  leftover cotton (lawn? batiste?) cut on grain. This was a good idea since by the time I had the chevroned seams (mostly) matched and stitched the bias pieces, they weren’t exactly the same size and shape they started out as. Seersucker’s kinda shifty at the best of times, and my relationship with precision is, well, hit and miss.

I realized after stitching up the skirt panels, that I’d had my needle set in the left-most position, so each of those many seam allowances (it’s essentially a 10-gore skirt) was just a smidge wider than it should’ve been. Oops. So I did have to shave a smidgeon off the bodice. I cut the size 128, as I was told my husband’s little cousin is a “skinny 8” and that was the size which corresponded with Syo’s bust measurement. Of course, Syo is on the shrimpy side for her age, too, but mostly that’s in height—she’s fairly sturdy and has my broad shoulders. Here’s hoping it fits. If not—I’m sure there’s a niece somewhere it’ll fit. I also added about 4 cm to the length, just at the hem of the skirt.

Can you spot the zipper? (PS the bodice seam is actually matched. I gave up on the chevrons, however. Also the difference in angle/grain between the skirt overlay and the gores at the side seem preclude stripe-matching on the skirt)

The pattern calls for a side-zip, so I pulled out one of my vintage invisible zippers, since I am officially “off” regular zippers after attempting one in the blue tunic. This was my first time installing a metal invisible zipper, and it was interesting. I remembered to stabilize the fabric with a little strip of fusible interfacing before stitching the zipper in, and I’m very glad I did because I think it would’ve driven me nuts. As it is, there’s a bit of poof around it, but not too bad. Anyway. I use Sherry’s method and install it with a regular zipper foot. In some ways this was easier with a metal zip—it’s easier to see the teeth, and they feel a bit sturdier so I was less paranoid about wrecking it. On the other hand, I was terrified I was going to needle down on one of the teeth and have sharp flying metal flying at my eye. It took me a couple of passes to  get the feel for how far back to rotate the teeth, and I did nearly sew my fingers a couple of times, but in the end it worked really well, and I even managed to figure out the trick of sewing the lining on by machine this time.

There’s the zipper! 🙂

The combination of a drawstring and a side zip is, um, not intuitive. Basically, I ended up with the drawstring in two parts, both stitched to the zipper tape (if I’d been a little more together they would’ve been attached before I put in the zipper, but anyway)—a short one which goes from the side to the CF opening, and a long one which goes from the side, around the back, to the other CF. Hopefully this’ll work out—it’s mostly decorative anyway.

Front notch with drawstring.

The pattern (OK, the photos from the magazine, again, didn’t look at the instructions) has you leave a gap in the stitching at the CF notch for the drawstrings to emerge.  This is easy, but there’s no real good way to finish the edges, and I’m kind of convinced that after a few wearings there’s going to be threads poking out like crazy, barring some hand-stitching. I considered putting a tiny little buttonhole in the front on either side of the notch, but when the chips came down I took the easy route. An eyelet would be cool, too, if you made a punk-y version of the dress. Which would be really fun, actually. Wouldn’t it be awesome made out of old metal-band T-shirts, with exposed construction and some scraps of black lace and studs?


I did the topstitching around the drawstring casing last. It was a little nerve-wracking making sure that I didn’t stitch down the drawstring itself, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I did hold the fabric very taut, since I was stitching three layers at that point, the top one of which was on the bias, and I was terrified the fabric was going to move and ripple. It did a bit, but not too much, at least on the outside (the inside, as you can see in the zipper shot above, isn’t lovely, but it’s done so I’m not going to sweat it.

I was going to wait until I could try and shove Syo into the dress to get some modeled shots before posting, but a) mysteriously she didn’t want to get up extra-early for a photo-shoot in the snow (yes, snow) before breakfast and b) I’m not 100% convinced it’s actually going to fit her. Although given that she likes everything skin-tight these days, that might be right up her alley.

Coming soon: more bodice fun!


Filed under Sewing

Children, magazines

My husband’s aunt (who is only a few years older than him) just invited us down for her daughter’s birthday (her daughter, my husband’s cousin, is Syo’s age.) Since they live quite a bit closer than the rest of the family, and we are always saying we’ll come down and then failing to, I was excited. I know she sews a little bit (sock monkeys have been mentioned), so I asked if a home-made gift would be welcome.

On being assured that it was, and getting a rough (very rough) estimate of the daughter’s size, I pulled out my two summer Young Image magazines and began leafing through.

After a fair bit of angsting, I decided on this pattern, from the original (2011) summer issue. Which is not only really cute, but has ties (adjustable) and a drawstring through the top (adjustable) and a raised “waist” so her actual body dimensions won’t matter so much.

Young Image Sundress

Fabric selection was actually easy-peasy. I found this seersucker in the clearance at Fabricland ages and ages ago, and picked up 3m (I think it was $1.50/m) with the express intention of making dresses for little girls. Unfortunately it didn’t seem quite right for *my* little girls, and I hadn’t gotten around to making something for my little nieces with it. But it seemed perfect for this gift project. (Yes, for those of you paying attention, this is the same fabric as I suggested for my Fantasy Pyjamas. Don’t worry, there’s plenty left…)

Sparkle seersucker

Anyway, the other night I managed to trace of the pattern, and yesterday, as I muzzily clawed my way back towards “normal” functioning, I finished cutting out the fabric and started assembling. I didn’t get ridiculously far, but I did manage to construct front and back skirt panels, some shoulder-ties, and some ruffle trim for the front overlay.

Skirt front

That’s an overlay on the front skirt, by the way; the pattern pieces for the skirt itself are identical front and back. I didn’t realize that until I actually started tracing out the pattern. It makes the construction much simpler.

Next confession: after figuring out how many times the skirt-pattern-piece had to be cut out (five pairs, for 10 panels, as it turned out) I haven’t even glanced at the instructions.

The Dread Ruffler

I did, however, do battle once again with my rolled-hem foot to finish the edge of the overlay and the edges of the ruffling strip. It was almost disappointingly well-behaved after the bias silky polyester. Not having much in the way of seams to go over certainly helped…

Feeling cocky at my triumph, I decided to tackle using the ruffler foot to gather my finished strip. And not just any ruffler foot, no, the ruffler for the Domestic Special*, far and away the most terrifying of my sewing machines. Actually, the machine works perfectly well, I just keep trying to use the more exotic attachments it came with, with decidedly mixed results. Which really isn’t the machine’s fault. The main thing with the ruffler is to remember to lower the presser foot before you start stitching. You can’t actually tell the difference, visually, because the foot is so bulky and the fabric feeds through it rather than under it, so it’s easy to forget, and disaster will ensue.

I normally reserve ruffler feet for things where I need vast quantities of ruffling of indeterminate gather ratio. This length was decidedly intermediate, although the consistent, fixed gather-ratio is nice for a trim. I wouldn’t say that in this case it was any great time-saver, since I had to make several samples to figure out what my gather-ratio was and which setting was increasing vs. decreasing it. But, it was fun anyway, and the needle did not shimmy out of position, nor did it strike the edge of the throat plate and shatter, which is what typically happens when I use the ruffler on my Janome. Of course, sewing the ruffled strip down was a whole ‘nother continent of annoying, but that’s certainly not the ruffler’s fault (after all, it’s perfectly possible to ruffle and stitch-down in one pass, if I had the guts to attempt it.)

Bias-cut bodice and chalk pencil

For the bodice, I tried cutting out on the diagonal to make chevroned stripes (the lining and underlining are on the straight grain). We’ll see how that turns out. The stripe-matching on the skirt sections is pretty much a dog’s breakfast, but I was much more meticulous about the bodice. I hope.

Also, Fabricland’s current 50% off sale on notions persuaded me to pick up this nifty, if rather expensive, Dritz chalk-pencil gadget. I’m always looking for something that will make marks efficiently and accurately. So far it seems pretty decent—not as accurate as the wash-away marker, but a little easier to lay down in large segments (like when tracing a pattern piece). A lot will depend on my ability to keep from losing it, or shattering the chalk refills.

All right. Now, much as I’d like to go down and sort out the rest of this little dress, my house needs to be rescued from three days of illness-related neglect. Ouch!

*Mostly because the Domestic and Janome are the two machines set up right now and and I hate using the ruffler on my Janome—something about the lighter weight of the modern machine just lends itself to vibrating the needle loose or jamming and breaking a needle.


Filed under Sewing

Weekend Sewing

What to do on a Sunday evening to save your weekend from complete non-productivity

I was really hoping to get the blue tunic finished this past weekend. However, after thoroughly botching the zipper insertion*, I decided to take a break from annoying polyester crepe and take a stab at using up the remainder of the Pink Suit fabric, which has been lurking around the basement for the last few months.

ETA: Emergency Clarification: this project was for Syo, the eight-almost-nine-year-old. This is her in the next photo; I did not miraculously grow my hair ten inches, nor did I shrink two and a half feet. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blog-reading.

Back view

Diving through stash, I also located the bag of lace that came from my Grandma’s stash, presumably dating back to the days when she used to make us underwear for Christmas. I picked this bit of stretch lace, enough to do the cuffs of a pair of leggings and a single line across the front of the matching leotard. I thought it would be a nice break from All Pink All The Time.

A super-simple leotard

Frankly, I was a little surprised when Syo got up this morning and eagerly put the leggings on. I was not sure that pinkpinkpink was going to be a popular colour. And the fabric has a bit more stretch in it than the last pair of leggings I made her, so they’re a bit loose, even after I took in the inseam a bit.

Lace top-stitched down with a zig-zag

I was pretty stoked when I came upstairs from finishing the set last night and realized my husband was just finishing the episode of Breakout Kings he’d started when I went down to sew. Had I really cut & stitched all this in under an hour?

… turns out it was the extra-long season finale.

Edges: clear elastic stitched on with triple zig-zag and then topstitched under with the "athletic" stitch.

But still, two hours (minus commercials, because he records and skips through those) for the set. Not too shabby.


The pattern is, again, Kwik Sew 1670, in a size 8, which is just a little big for Syo (who will be turning nine in two months). It includes both the leotard and slightly cropped leggings. This time I disregarded the lengths Kwik Sew suggests for the elastic on the leotard and sewed it in straight rather than in the round, putting a wee bit of tension into it but not enough to ripple the fabric. And I quite like how it turned out. It does involve a bit more thought in terms of construction order—sew crotch; elasticate leg openings; sew side-seams; elasticate arm openings; sew one shoulder; elasticate neck opening; sew second shoulder; turn all elasticated edges under and topstitch in the round. I *really* like that this got me both the ease of putting in elastic flat and the nice finish of topstitching in the round. As you can see I topstitched with my “athletic” stitch, rather than the triple zig-zag. It’s a bit of a different look; not sure if I like it any better, though.


Now I really need to make something for Tyo before she notices that Syo’s gotten two (three) things in a row…

Or, y’know, finish the blue tunic.

*Funny story. I wasn’t actually going to *do* a zipper insertion, except then there was a nice dress-length zipper in the proper shade of blue in the package from ElleC, so I thought it was karma and figured I’d throw it in. Bad idea. Bad, bad Karma. Either that or ElleC is sending me cursed zippers, which I might not put past her, but I think the culprit in this case is the *really annoying fabric*.


Filed under Sewing


Action shots

This post was almost titled “Disaster, Part II.” But at least temporarily, disaster appears to have been avoided.

Finished (?)

I finished Tyo’s Jalie 2795 bunnyhug late Saturday, and handed it to her to try on. I was a little apprehensive since an early test fitting had suggested it was going to be snug; the sleeves had been a little short, so I had added an extension to the cuffs, as you can see.

Well, Tyo couldn’t even get her hands through the cuffs without major pinching and pulling. That being said, once she did get it on, she didn’t even want to take it off to go to bed, always a good sign. So when I got up this morning I sliced off the old cuffs, grabbed the pattern piece, and dug through the mass of scraps under my cutting table in search of something I could make a new pair of cuffs from (since the rest of the fabric I used for this has now been reduced to scraps none of which are much bigger than 4″ square. I eventually (to my great relief!) turned up the remnant of the fabric from when I made this sweater last winter. It’s not as fresh and dark a black as the other sweatshirt knit, but there was enough of it and I was beyond caring (and I suspect things will even out after a wash or three)


So I improvised some wider, extra-long cuffs, slapped them on, and the child was happy to go. Further examination indicated that the problem with the cuffs may have been more me than the pattern—I think I reversed the direction of maximum stretch in my attempts to cut thriftily, as the fleece grainline isn’t obvious, the only way to tell is by stretching the fabric experimentally.

Slim fit

The size, which I was really worried about, is definitely not generous. This will be great when I make one for myself, but isn’t exactly what you’re usually looking for for kids. I have a feeling the time she’ll be wearing this one will be measured in months as opposed to years or even seasons.


Interfaced zipper

In an attempt to avoid wavy-zipper issues, I used a small strip of interfacing on either size of the zipper insertion. This seems to have (mostly) done its job, except I should probably have put it on the other side—the way I folded the zipper in to finish everything the edges of the strip show on the inside, which isn’t ideal.

Back view

I wasn’t too keen with how the hood, which inserts on top of the collar, looked when I first stitched it up, but I actually like it quite a bit when worn. The size is ok, not big but not too small to be functional, and the unusual seaming looks really nice when it’s down.

I used two main seam finishes in this piece, serging and topstitching on the black sweatshirt material and stitching the seams inside-out and covering the seam allowance with twill tape on the fleece. Both are pretty fun and make for a nice finish, but are a bit time-consuming (you have to go over each seam three times). A few seams, like the underarm/sideseams, I just stitched and then serged for finish.

Pocket and side panels

The one interesting bit of construction was the pocket openings. They’re set into the side seams, and you basically make a single welt and insert it into the cut-out in the side-piece. It gapes a bit towards the centre, but I don’t actually mind the look, and it meant that I was less likely to catch the welt in the seam. Yay! It also helps that my pocket lining and my side-panel material matched—I wouldn’t want to use a different material for the pocket lining (not that you normally would on a sweatshirt).

Most importantly, though, it was perfect for a day at the playground.



Filed under Sewing


Desperate piecing

So, remember when I posted how I’d finished cutting out the last bits for Tyo’s bunnyhug and had enough fabric left for her pair of shorts?

Well, as soon as I finished cutting them out, I had a little niggle. What if. What if I messed up one of the pieces? What if I have a serging accident? I just officially used up all but the smallest scraps of my matching fabric, with no hope of replacing any of it.

Well, when I finally started tidying up, guess what I discovered?

One more pattern piece for the bunnyhug, which I hadn’t cut out.

Not only that, the single longest pattern-piece in the entire pattern, the sleeve sides. Of which I need not one, not two, but four copies.

I think there’s a sequence to this, kind of like the stages of grief. Denial—maybe I took the pieces off the pattern and they’re kicking around somehwere? Anger—how could I do this? Oh, I’m so stupid. Bargaining—maybe I can match in some other fabric? What about the scraps from hubs’ coat? no?

Fortunately with sewing, at least, there’s the potential for action, not just acceptance.

I gathered up my largest remaining scraps (most of which weren’t more than 6″ in any given direction.

I roughly, ever so roughly, matched the grain-lines.

And I pieced them together, using the same serge & topstitch methodology I used on Tyo’s shorts.

This was a wild affront to the sewing gods, peeps. If I die in a freak serging accident next week, you’ll know why.

And I cut out not one, not two, but four side-sleeve pieces.


Nothing like a new design feature or two 😉

Pieced sleeve (almost finished)

I’m actually pretty satisfied with how they look. Not exactly intentional, but not exactly unintentional, either. I used some black twill tape to cover over the seam on the top part of the sleeve, which echoes the topstitched ridges in the black nicely, I think. This is the same method I used for Syo’s hoodie here.

For the other sleeve, I decided to add a little pocket just above the top-sleeve seam.

Pocket sleeve

I even *almost* managed to match up that one piecing seam. So close…

So I think it’ll work. But I still don’t recommend it. Now tell me your latest offence against the sewing gods (intentional or otherwise) to make me feel better! 🙂


Filed under Sewing

And a pair for Tyo.

Tyo's shorts (front)

Having finished cutting the last bits for Tyo’s bunnyhug last night, I had about half a men’s XL sweatshirt left sitting on the basement floor, so I decided to cut the shorties (Jalie 3022)  for Tyo out of it. It may be borderline in terms of stretch, but then so was the red striped fabric I used for Syo’s pair. I tend to round up the Jalie patterns for the kids, because I’d rather make their clothes a little loose and have them grow into them. (This does not always thrill my children.) On the other hand, I really need to re-measure them; Tyo grew something like two inches since Christmas.

The photos pretty much all suck—black, y’know–but I think you get the idea. Though I think the shorts are much cuter in real life.

Tyo 'Tude

Knowing that Tyo’s derriere requires rather more room than Syo’s, I wanted to add more height to the rear crotch curve. Normally to do this I just add a wedge at the CB seam, about halfway up the curve, tapering to nothing at the side-seam. For this particular pattern, though, this is complicated by the vertical seam along the back of the leg. This incorporates a little bit of shaping at the top, and the potential for a lot more if you needed it. For this first try, I didn’t add any shaping on this seam, and they seem fine, but it’s certainly an option if you need it. Anyway, I basically added 1.5 cm in height all along the centre-back pattern piece (piece B), and made a wedge on the side-back pattern piece (piece C).

My changes

I am very, very, very glad I did this little alteration, as Tyo’s shorts cover very nicely—high enough at the back and covering her entire butt. Yay! Hence the modeled shots here. 1.5 cm may have been a bit excessive, but I’d rather be safe than sorry in this case.

Side view---great rear coverage

For construction I followed the Jalie instructions much more closely this time, especially for the waistband, which is the full height with the decorative “contrast” band—in this case it’s made of blue stretch velvet, from a tiny remnant I had to piece at the CF (in hindsight, it would’ve made much more sense to put the seams at the sides, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead.)

Tyo's shorts, rear view

I stitched all my seams in three passes, straight triple stitch for the seam itself and then using the serger to finish it, and then topstitching. It makes a much nicer finish inside than the overedge stitch on my machine, and with the topstitching the seam-allowances are flattened down nicely on the inside, which looks much more professional, if not 100% RTW.

Inside waistband.

When I posted about Syo’s Leotard and using the three-step zig-zag to attach it, I got a lot of comments from people who found this stitch stretched out the elastic too much, keeping it from recovering fully. I didn’t find that at all on the leotard, but I was using clear plastic swimsuit elastic in that case, and I wonder if the commenters were referring to standard elastic instead—because when I triple-stitched the (regular) elastic to the inside of the waistband (basically understitching) with a three-step zig-zag, it definitely ended up longer than when it started. It’s fine on, but you can see the top of the waistband is a little ripply when it’s not being worn. So, commenters—have you had this problem with clear plastic elastic? Or is it just (as here) with standard elastic? I don’t know if I’d use clear plastic elastic in a waistband like this anyway, but it’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind when making my stitch-choices in the future.

Rear view---coverage!

Incidentally, I sewed the entire project with my 1/4″ edgestitching foot. This worked great, because the keel on the foot is right at the edge of the seam-allowance. I mean, it’s not hard to line up a 1/4″ seam allowance with the edge of the regular zig-zag foot, but this was practically brainless. It wouldn’t have worked if I’d been trying to use my over-edge stitch, though, because the edgestitching foot is a straight-stitch-only foot.

So, in conclusion, pretty definitely a win.


Filed under Sewing

Shorts for the shortie


One of the things I traced off last week was Jalie 3022, a cute yoga-pants pattern.

In the shorts length.

In sizes for my kids.

This allows me to use up yet more teeny knit scraps, test out the pattern, and, in all probability, contribute to my children’s chronic habit of dressing extremely inappropriately for the weather.

So, over the last week, I managed, in approximately five-second intervals, to get a pair of the shorts together for Syo. I traced of the size J pattern, in shorts length, making no adjustments on this initial pair. This is the equivalent of the size 6, for my nearly-nine-year-old, but it matched her measurements and the fit is pretty much spot on.

I should, however, have remembered that Jalie drafts for the flat-of-butt. Syo’s derriere is not quite as J-Lo-esque as her older sister’s, but it’s still decently protruberant. The rise in the front is good, even a little high, but the rise in the back is a bit meager. And, while the shorts version is pretty short, I don’t actually think the bottom of her butt is supposed to be hanging out. And there’s a wee bit of wedgie action going on.

None of which prevented her from bouncing up and down upon seeing them, squealing “Mommy made me booty shorts!”. She has also slept in them every night since, and worn them to school under her (very) skinny jeans because she forgot to take them off, so they must be fairly comfortable. It’s also why they look a bit stretched out and beat up in the photo…

As to the pattern itself…

The main feature that makes this pattern a little different is the additional vertical seam down the back. This allows for a bit more shaping in the butt region, not to mention lets me use even smaller scraps of fabric to make up the shorts. It does increase the construction time a wee bit.

I took some major liberties with the waistband, partly due to fabric limitations and partly due to not having a nice contrast-fabric to make the oramental panel on the outside. I just cut the single, inside piece, and folded it over around some wide elastic. This worked, but it didn’t produce a particularly nice waistband—partly because the waistband elastic I had on hand was a bit heavy for the purposes, and partly because my fabric is not overly stretchy, so rather than easing neatly to the waistband it’s pretty harshly gathered. it looks fine on, though. I have since actually read the instructions, and they make much more sense and give a much nicer finish, calling for a narrow, 1 cm elastic to be attached inside the top of the waistband. So don’t judge the pattern by the crap-tacle I made of the waistband.

I used a faux-athletic-looking stitch for hemming the legs. I will note this is the first time I’ve successfully hemmed this particular, rolly fabric without adding elastic or a band. I stitched the hem from the wrong side so I could flatten out the rolling manually as I went, and it worked really well, but obviously wouldn’t’ve been possible if I’d wanted to use a twin needle topstitch, for example.

All in all these are a quick, not terribly nicely-finished test piece. But Syo seems completely happy with them. I’m not sure how many booty shorts my kids need (they actually cover less of her butt than some of her underwear), but it’s a great way of using up spare fabric, especially little teeny bits. And yes, she wears them with the matching bralette from the photo.

I have a pair ready for Tyo, too, but I’ll do a separate post on them once I get her to try them on…


Filed under Sewing

A Syo-lytic leotard

I asked for a dance pose.

So I’ve been trying to start sewing down stash. I’ve been positively stingy with the new fabric purchases the last little while (which seems to mostly be resulting in pattern-binging, but that’s another issue). I’ve been avoiding Fabricland like an (insert clever, really annoying thing to avoid here).

However, the other day Syo had a doctor’s appointment across town at a location I wasn’t familiar with, and so I had built in an excessive amount of traffic/getting lost time, and so we arrived in the area with rather more than an hour to kill before her appointment. And I may not know that area well, but I do know where the fabric store is, so in we tromped.

And Syo found the swimsuit fabrics.

And they were having a big 50% off nearly everything sale.

And I’m officially the biggest pushover ever to disgrace mommydom.

So Syo scored a metre of pink, grey, and white leopard- and heart-print spandex. For a new leotard for her dance class.

Now, she is in sore need of a new leotard—the ones she has are mostly two or three sizes too small. But there is a dress code for the class (however poorly enforced) and I’m pretty sure pink leopard print isn’t on it.


Kwik Sew 1670

Bring on Kwik Sew 1670, again. This pattern has previously been used (abused) to create the pattern for Tyo’s close-fitting shirt, and the leggings have been made before, but this is the first time I’ve made the leotard up as such. It’s the first time, frankly, that I’ve sewn with full-on spandex in all its slippery, stretchy glory.

That's more like it.

First off, I will say, a sleeveless leotard is an insanely easy project. Two pattern pieces, no facings, not even any binding. I started tracing the size 8 (a bit large on Syo but the smallest in my packet) at 8:00 and had the whole thing done before 10:00.

Hmm, swayback appears to run in the family

I followed the Kwik Sew instructions remarkably closely, although I don’t know if I’ll do the same next time. They have you measure out elastic lengths, stitch them into circles, and then stretch the circles to fit the various openings (leg, arms, neck). While the elastic lengths were good, I think I do just as well applying in the flat and eyeballing my stretch ratio. I’ll give it a try next time and let you know…

Triple-stitch zig-zag finish

Anyway, I stitched the entire thing on my Janome, as she has the best stretch-stitches—I’ve come to the conclusion (backed by a wee bit of actual research) that my 3-thread serger really isn’t intended for making seams, just finishing them. I’m not supremely in love with the overlock stitch on the Janome—the seams look a little wavy when you open them up—but it is very stretchy. For applying and then topstitching the elastic, I used the 3-step zig-zag. It’s a bit of a home-finished look, but not a bad once, I think.

Side view

Some of this may have been motivated by the fact that Syo got her costume for the year-end show the other day. Ah, 1992 called, it wants its clothing back. Black, neon, fishnet, paint-splatter print—an amazing blast from the past. All of which I paid $80 for. And it’s not exactly badly made, and I don’t begrudge the stitcher getting paid a living wage for her time, and she does have a coverstitch, which I don’t… but, frankly, I could’ve done just as well*. And maybe I needed to prove that to myself.

Gappy neckline

Syo is obscenely happy with her new leotard (not to mention how quickly it was made up). It is a smidge large on her, or at least the neck gapes a touch where I didn’t get the elastic pulled quite evenly, but I imagine that will lessen as she grows. As leotards go, it’s pretty modest, high-necked back and front—I’ll be really tempted to scoop out the back a bunch next time. The butt-coverage is decent, but I suspect it will become less so as her body takes up the excess length. The crotch between the legs seems a bit wide to me, but doesn’t appear to bother her. There’s no crotch-lining included, but I might try adding one next time.

The big question, of course, is what to do with the rest of the fabric, since I used approximately 30 cm off one side of the 150-cm wide, 1m length…

*I don’t think I have any ambitions to pursue a career stitching up dance costumes for local troupes, anyway. Well, at least not the kind of semi-mass-production this kind of costuming requires. Now, making someone a fabulous bellydance or flamenco costume… that could be fun.


Filed under Sewing

I sewed silk!

Pretty dress

… In about the teensiest, most tentative way possible.

Last summer, we bought the girls a couple of shirred-top, recycled-sari-silk dresses at a stall at a street fair. They’re not exactly well-made, but they’re extremely pretty. The only problem was that they were strapless. However, a fortuitous accident illustrating the inadvisability of cycling in a long, frilly silk skirt provided a fair bit of mangled hem that needed to be sliced off. Fortunately there’s plenty left to frill around in—and now I had fabric to spare to make some spaghetti straps. Which didn’t stop me from putting the project off pretty much all winter, but finally last night I was bumming around the sewing room, poking dispiritedly at the mounts of *stuff* and not really feeling able to start anything major. Tyo pointedly suggested that perhaps I should GET THAT DONE.

Silk + Bike rear-wheel = BAD

Well, I got them started, anyway.

After sorting through the mangled mass to find a bit that wasn’t too shredded and melted, I very gently ironed a portion and cut out two strips, each about 3 cm wide. The ironing was very much NOT facilitated by the fact that I didn’t use a press-cloth when block-fusing Armoweft interfacing onto Osiris’s coat; Armoweft is the nicest interfacing I’ve found yet, but the glue does seep through when you’re fusing with it. So my iron’s foot was covered with gunk. I do terrible things to my iron, honoured readers, but this was unusually bad even for me.

But, back to the silk. My strips were cut on the bias, more because the portion of the skirt I I’d had to cut off had been cut on the bias than because I wanted skinny little spaghetti straps. I actually think these straps turned out a bit too skinny.

Anyway, once I finally got them pressed, I pulled out a brand-new, super-fine needle (65/9) and sat down with some scraps to play with my tension and stitch length. I was too lazy short of time to look up what kind of a stitch length is good for bias silk, (I know Sunni and Sherry have both weighed in on the topic), but eventually went with a short stitch, but pulling while I stitched. Which makes the fabric scooch all over the place, but anyway. When I was done, I had straps. When not being pulled on, the straight stiches actually look a bit zig-zagged. Interesting.

Spaghettie straplets. Also, never feel bad about your shirring again!

I used the bobby pin method for turning the straps. I love this method WAY over using a cord on the inside of the tube, but really for slippery silk I think anything would’ve worked. These were the easiest little tubes to turn, ever. And once I ironed and stretched them to maximal skinniness, they didn’t look half bad, despite my wonky stitching and general incompetence.

Some careful handwheeling got them nicely attached in the front, and now all I have to do is stuff a child into the dress long enough to measure the length to attach them in the back.

And who knows, maybe I’ll get some actual *real* sewing done one of these days…



Filed under Sewing