Tag Archives: kids’ clothes

Where’s Waldo (Jr)

Tyo Looks Cute (in my tights and shoes...)

As I procrastinated my way through last weekend (as is my wont), I asked Tyo if she’d like a shirt from the remaining bits of my red and grey striped fabric. As I already have two shirts out of it, I thought a third might be overkill. Tyo was amenable, so I cut out another version of her fitted knit top.

I actually sewed this version with a straight stitch, then finished the edges on the serger. I may come to regret that, but it’s an awfully stable knit.

V-neck

I did an unusually good job of measuring the neckline for the neck-band (on my usual scooped necks I just sort of cut an approximate neckband and stretch as I go, but you have to put V-necks on in the round, as far as I can tell, so a little precision goes a long way. I also did one small but obvious thing, I made a tiny snip in the point of the V (before I started attaching the neckband) so that the seam-allowance can fold back. And, miraculously, I ended up with my first-ever, completely-non-puckered V-neck finish! Who knew? (Yes, I know, everyone who ever bothered to read up on inserting V-neck bands knew. We’ve gone over the stubborn-have-to-make-mistakes-for-myself part, haven’t we?)

Back View

Frankly, I was ridiculously proud of myself when I finished this top.

And then Tyo tried it on.

Well, remember I mentioned this knit has very little stretch? I mean, it makes it quite nice to sew up (evil rolling tendencies aside), and I like a firm knit. But this pattern which fit Tyo perfectly in the loose, giving jersey of the white version… is really, really snug. Even the shoulders are too narrow, although the part that’s bugging her is the sleeves. So we’ve been wrangling all week over whether she can cut the sleeves short, or whether she should just hand it down to Syo. I’m leaning towards the latter, preferring not to have my new creation hacked into, especially when there would’ve been a lot more usable fabric left if I’d decided to cut short sleeves from the beginning. Probably enough enough for a shirt for Tyo. Grroar. Of course, now that the pictures are taken, she’s still wearing it and not complaining… we’ll see.

Not sure how much sewing I’ll get up to over the weekend, but here’s hoping.

Front view

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The joys of experience…

More little jeans

The thing about making something over and over again—especially in rapid succession—is that you should, really, be getting better at it each time, right?

Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

After finishing the littlest jeans ever last weekend, I figured I had a good couple of weeks to poke around at the next pair, for my older niece Fyon, and still have them in the post in time for Fyon’s birthday at the end of the month.

Did I mention that I suck at mailing stuff? This is why I make patterns that can be shared via download, rather than hosting giveaways, when the guilt at how much I get from the online sewing vs. how much I contribute gets too bad.

ANYWAY, when I realized that my MIL and her husband would be in town for a couple of days this week, it suddenly became imperative to get Fyon’s pair done so I could send both presents back with her. And while it’s easy enough (at this point, for me) to whip up a pair of jeans over the course of a weekend, it’s another thing entirely to cram it into a couple of evenings. Nonetheless, I dove in, and they are done and currently winging their way back to Saskatchewan.

Fyon’s pair was a straight size 4—unlike her little sister, she’s tall for her age and well-proportioned (i.e. slightly chunky). She’ll be five in a few weeks, but the measurements I took of her last summer suggested that the size 4 (H) would be just fine, even allowing for four months of growth. Here’s hoping. In case you haven’t been following along, the pattern is Jalie 2908, which is far and away my most-used pattern of all time. Cost per make is in the pennies, at this point.

Rear view

Given the time-frame, I dropped all hope of originality and opted for the same detailing in slightly different fabric. This is probably just as well—despite their size differences, my nieces are only 18 months apart in age, and much jealousy often arises if they don’t get more-or-less exactly the same gifts. I decided to make my piping a little narrower this time, in the effort to get a more “piped” look—I think I was successful, although the wider look of the first pair is a bit more whimsical and cute. This pair is positively sedate. I also plum forgot (as I usually do) to add a teensy change pocket, and I’m surprised at how much more boring this makes the front view. Subtle, but true. I also forgot to do any embroidery on the front. Oopsie. Tyo suggested stars, rather than hearts this time, which I went with happily on the back pockets, as they’re super-easy to stitch.

Labels---best laid plans.

Aside from glitches like that, I had some good ideas that didn’t quite pan out, and some technical difficulties. I remembered to attach a label with my kids’-brand name, Bookemon & Ebichu (as I found the sheet of iron-on transfers again, finally! ūüėČ ), and this time figured I’d do it BEFORE the waistband was attached, saving me from doing it after, by hand, like I did last time. It seemed like a great idea, no? Except that when I topstitched along the waistband, the stitching went over the label. Not awful, but not really the look I was going for. (I do like how the swan-stitch turned out! It’s one of the cams that came with the White, and while each individual bird isn’t particularly lovely, the overall effect is a cute detail, I think.

On to the technical difficulties. I’ve mentioned before that the new Pfaff, lovely as it is, has some tension issues. Something is gummed up in the the tension disks, to the point where a) the tension doesn’t release when the presser foot is raised, and b) when the tension is high (as it needs to be for stitching with thick topstitching thread) it seems to feed a bit unevenly or something—two or three stitches will be fine and then one will pull a loop of the top thread to the back. Again, not catastrophic, but not perfect. The topstitching thread I used on the pair of jeans for Waif was a different brand and not quite as thick, and it worked well, but the Guterman topstitching thread was definitely more challenging. And it got even worse for zig-zagging (which you generally use a lower tension for). You can see how attractive the insides of my bar-tacks are. /sigh. So while the overall jeans are fine, and cute, the construction has some lumps and bumps that I wish it didn’t. I did a better job on the fly this time, I think, anyway.

At least it’s out of the way.

Interior waistband

There’s the usual buttonhole elastic in the waistband, and again I used a snap. It seems, in the random way of snaps, to be a little sturdier than the one that I put in on the Waif’s pair. Which probably has everything to do with how things get bent in the hammering, but I haven’t managed to really improve on that with the tools I have available.

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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¬į 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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The Lotus Lady

So serene... so contemplative...

Perhaps “Lotus Lass” would be more apt, but it just doesn’t have the rhythm, y’know?

Kimono front. Pay no attention to the broom handle sticking out of the sleeve...

Tyo’s robe is finished and has been worn pretty much every day, so I’d say it’s a success. Although now she wants those loop-over-the-arms tie things that keep the kimono sleeves from dragging in everything, because, well, they drag in everything. Fortunately we’ve watched enough Miyazaki that she knows all about them.

Kimono back.

It’s really long, which is what she wanted, but quite narrow. Not so much it doesn’t close, but it certainly doesn’t stay closed while walking. This is the downside of rectangular construction, I guess. Godets at the sideseam might’ve been effective (if not particularly kimono-accurate).

Hem lotus

I quite enjoyed laying out all the applique, which I did after cutting the fabric but before assembling anything. There are two full lotuses, one on the upper back, one at the hem on the front right side. The sleeves and the front left are decorated with individual petals.

Back view---worn

The belt is a simple sash. I opted to stitch it down with an X on the centre back, so she can’t lose it. (I could’ve added belt loops, but in my experience that’s never enough to keep a kid’s belt with their housecoat.) Most of the time it’s trailing along behind her elegantly, but at least it’s there if she decides she needs it.

Front, worn.

The other morning she came down for breakfast wearing her cream bunnyhug* under the robe, which threw me for a loop as I couldn’t figure out how she’d gotten a hood onto the robe.

All in all?

1) new technique learnt (applique)

2) new construction methods

3) used up stash fabric

4) garment is getting lots of use and love.

WIN.

Your robe fu is strong, but mine is stronger!*

*yes, I know Kung Fu is not Japanese. Hush.

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Do Over

Mom, you can't expect me to pose with my sister!

Although I love the idea of the Sew Weekly challenges—how fun, to be sewing something on the same theme as people all around the world!—I hardly ever actually do them, partly because I already have too much on my own list of projects, and partly because it usually takes me a lot longer than a week to go from theme/inspiration to an actual project idea, never mind a finished project. But every once in a (long) while the weekly theme coincides with something I’m already working on, and that was the case this week: Do Over.

Now, since I do over a LOT of patterns, this is not such a bit coincidence. But I’m still going to count it, because the project I finished this week, Tyo’s new jeans, is a do over on SO many levels.

Tyo's Ruched Jeans

1) Jalie 2908. Part of the do over is to revisit a pattern you’ve used before. This is easily my most-revisited pattern of all time, not least because it comes in sizes for both me and my kids.

2) I am re-visiting the skinny, ruched-leg detail I used on Syo’s most recent jeans

3) I am ALSO revisiting the cutout/underlay detailing from Tyo’s first, too-quickly-outgrown, pair of Jalie jeans.

… which basically means that there was nothing new or innovative about this project at all, which I think was probably NOT the idea of the theme, but oh, well. I’m still claiming it.

Some final thoughts: I added height to the rear crotch for Tyo’s booty. At the moment it’s a bit baggy there, so this wasn’t really necessary. On the other hand, she still has a fair bit of room to grow into these, so I’ll get back to you on that in another six months or so. Remember how I had pieced the waistband? I wound up only needing a small portion of extra and it works fine, but I’m a little puzzled that I needed any at all, since if anything my yoke tucks should have made the waistband too long for the jeans. Tyo’s jeans aren’t as strongly ruched at the ankle, mostly because I was trying to squeeze them out of a small amount of denim, so I could only extend the leg a small amount.

All right, I GUESS I can pose with my sister...

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Make me one too!

Tyo's jeans, Version II

Or, a further failure of selfishness.

The first pair of jeans I made, a year and a half or so ago, were from Jalie 2908, and were for Tyo. They turned out great (better, in hindsight, than the pair I made myself next), and fit Tyo like a dream.

For approximately a week before it got hot and they were abandoned for the summer, and by the end of her usual summer growth spurt they were thoroughly outgrown. I grumbled, re-measured, traced out her new size, and went on making any number of jeans for myself. In the intervening year and a bit, Syo got two pairs of jeans made just for her, and inherited Tyo’s original pair. So, really, Tyo had a fair bit of leverage going on when I finished Syo’s ruched jeans last week, and she instantly demanded her own pair.

In my defense, I already had these cut when the coat pattern from Zoe arrived. So really I had to finish my currently-underway project. I really did. And given that my sewing is currently of the one-seam-a-day variety, I’m doing pretty well to have these as far along as they are.

As per Tyo’s specifications, I combined the ruching from Syo’s recent pair with the same cut-out-over-plaid detailing of Tyo’s original pair (which was inspired by a RTW pair belonging to Syo… yeesh this gets confusing). And they’re skinny-ish. The plaid is the leftovers from Tyo’s purple shirt, which I also need to re-make in an appropriate size.

I re-measured Tyo and went up a size from the one I’d traced out for her last fall. She’s still closer to the smaller size, but I am not making another pair to be handed down instantly. So they’re not as snug as the RTW skinnies in Tyo’s wardrobe. The length isn’t quite as ample as I’d expected it to be, however,¬†which may be a problem in the “growing into” department.

Anyway.

Pockets

I interfaced the plaid flannel with Armoweft to give it a bit of extra support without having to add a whole ‘nother layer of denim behind it (as I did in the first jeans). I think it’s a good compromise. ¬†The yoke has a layer of flannel sandwiched between two layers of denim (even the Featherweight wasn’t happy stitching that), and once the waistband is in place I’ll snip around the top layer of denim. Once it’s washed a few times it’ll have a great fun frayed look. I suspect some distressing will be in order as well.

Pieced Waistband

As I was trying to squeeze the pair out of a denim remnant (I tend to buy 2 m lengths to make a pair for myself, so this is what’s left of that after I made my own jeans) I cut the waistband on the lengthwise grain (no stretch) and in two halves; again due to fabric shortage, I opted to face it in the flannel. Unfortunately, a quick fitting around Tyo’s hips on the weekend suggested that it was going to be a bit short, so I pieced a further bit on each end. ¬†On the top left corner you can see the buttonhole where the buttonhole elastic will emerge from. At least this time I remembered to bind the edge of the waistband before attaching it. Much easier this way. ¬†I feel like this is going to be a much more substantial waistband than the one on Syo’s pair… we’ll just have to see.

Darting yoke pattern piece. Only with two darts.

I made a couple of fit adjustments, although it’s not entirely clear how successful they were (I’ll get back to you once the waistband’s on). I curved in the yoke by a couple of cm (standard on Jalie 2908 unless you have a really flat butt, I think), and I increased the rear crotch length (height? depth?) by adding a wedge 1 cm wide at the CB seam, tapering to nothing at the side-seam. In theory, this gives Tyo a bit more (much needed) booty coverage.

It’s been nearly a week since my last post. I hate posting so infrequently, but that’s the state of things right now, and not likely to improve until later next year. I’m going to try to keep the blog limping along as long as I can, but at some point in the next few months the thesis s$&t will really hit the time-crunch fan, all semblance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle will go out the window, and I will be reduced to a twitching, zombie-like being stumbling around the house mumbling “cladistics is the answer and the problem!” and “intersubjectivity as a substitute for objectivity is flawed!”.

But in the mean-time, there are jeans.

And, hopefully soon, a coat.

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La Mode Syo

The cool kid.

Syo would like you to know that she’s far, far, too cool to be posing in her new jeans for her mom.

They are a little big. Not really satisfyingly skinny.

Syo’s mother would like you to know that Syo is going to have to deal, I am so totally done with making clothes that are outgrown a month later.

Now that that’s out of the way, a few final details:

Rear view. Oh, that's the shrug I made here

The pockets look good. I like my feature pocket.

Studs

The waistband is flabby as I didn’t bother to interface (and it’s cut on the cross, i.e. stretchy). However, there are now studs. I bought plain “Bachelor buttons” rather than jeans buttons this time, because I didn’t really feel like spending $8 for 8 buttons when I could buy four bachelor buttons for less than two. The bachelor buttons may be slightly wimpier than the (already flimsy) Dritz jeans buttons, but not too much. Someday when the perfect conjunction of money and motivation coincides, I will order some proper ones off the internets. Until then, my children will suffer. Syo wanted a snap anyway, but didn’t mention this until after the buttonhole was cut.

Fuzzy pockets

She really likes the fuzzy pocket-lining fabric. I’m thinking I should make a future pair lined in something similar… extra warm and extra cozy all in one.

Ruching

That gathered look has been achieved.

Got pug?

There are, however, few things cuter than a pug. Even a stuffed pug.

Also, I got the most awesome package in the mail today.

New pattern!

Yes, it’s that awesome 70s coat pattern Zoe made up last year and then recently decided to give away. I feel totally honoured and squee-tastic that she picked me (not to mention a little apprehensive. What if I stuff it up?). I am so excited. I’ve never made a Vogue pattern before. Bet you can’t guess which view I want to make. ūüėČ

So I guess I know what my next project is. Aside from the pair of ruched jeans I’ve already cut out for Tyo, anyway.

 

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How they keep me hooked

Tyoshirt

Tyo wriggles into the shirt. “Aww, yeah. I love the long sleeves! Ooh, can we put a thumbhole in? I love how long it is—it covers my butt! I love how tight the sleeves are, you never get sleeves this tight. I love how you flare them out at the end, too! I’ll totally wear this! I love the neckline!” (I heave a small sigh of relief. I was worried it would be too low-cut for her taste.)

“Ok, now give it back to me so I can hem it.”

“No, don’t hem it, I like it just how it is!”

“I want one, too, mom!” (that’s Syo)

I made this shirt for Tyo to wear under her Babydoll costume. She’s going to be freakin’ freezing. Monday’s forecast includes snow.

The fabric is from a cotton jersey sheet I picked up at Value Village for $4; not great recovery—more T-shirt than leotard—but no way I was going to score plain white (or plain flesh-tone) jersey from Fabricland for that little, and there’s plenty left over. Like, I used less than two feet off the whole double-sized sheet length. (And it would’ve been less except the sheet seems to be cut prodigiously off-grain to the rib of the knit. Weird.)

The pattern… erm. Technically, it’s a hybrid of Kwik Sew 2448 (sleeve and armscye, size 7) and 1670 (body and shoulder, size 12, lengthened into a shirt), although really once I was done I think either pattern would’ve been embarrassed to acknowledge its bastard offspring. But, I’m pretty happy with the result—a close-fitting, shaped, but not skin-tight tee. I lengthened the sleeve, made it curve in a bit just below the top of the arm for a closer fit, and added my usual flare-out at the wrist. Something about this shape that I just really like. I had graded out the bottom of the shirt to allow for pear-shaped-ness, but next time I’ll tweak the side-seam curves a bit. They are inning and outing a bit too sharply. Tyo’s curves at the moment are all front to back, not side to side.

V-Neck Closeup

I wanted a V-neck to go underneath the costume. It’s my first attempt at finishing a V-neck; I didn’t try to miter the ends of the band, just overlapped them at a right angle. And by some miracle I got the length right, too. So although it’s a little wonky in places, overall it’s pretty decent. I used this technique from Jorth (I’ve seen it other places, too, but this description is nice and recent and sticks out in my memory) although I only did a 5mm seam allowance instead of a 10mm, and my topstitching is consequently closer to the seam.

One Happy Tyo

Of course, for the costume purposes, skin-tight would’ve been better. ¬†But y’know what? She loves it. So I’m going to shut up and enjoy. ūüôā

(Also, Tyo wants you to know that she wanted to wear the knee-high boots but we could only find the one, so after an hour or so of hunting around she settled for mis-matched boots. I told her she should keep that to herself, this way it’s a “fashion statement”.)

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Buffy-tastic

Buffy the Vampire-Slayer Costume (in progress)

As I mentioned before, it took quite a bit of convincing to get Syo to agree to “Movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as opposed to “TV-show Buffy” for her Hallowe’en costume. Not that I have anything against Sarah Michelle Gellar’s take on the character—I haven’t watched enough to judge one way or another, but plenty of my friends and family, kids included, are firm fans—but in my mind the movie version is more iconic. That’s where Buffy started, y’know, the wonderful juxtaposition of teen-cheerleader-ditz with stark, undead horror. Or something. (OK, it’s been a while since I saw the movie, either, and unforgivably it’s not on Netflix. Dude.)

So, now the costume is progressing, and she’s still not overly thrilled. /sigh. I’m torn. On the one hand I have an intense recollection of that sinking dread/obligation feeling that goes with a costume being made for you that you don’t like. (Hmm, I think I was less tactful and thoughtful of my mother’s feelings than Syo, actually.) On the other hand, as an adult, I am serenely confident that my idea is better, and she should just suck it up. Gotta love how parenthood can bring out one’s inner dictator. Sigh.

In any case, the essential, iconic bits are done—crop-top and twirly skirt. Hopefully Syo will like the skirt better than the top (as I write this I just finished the skirt and she’s already in bed, so she will have to check it out tomorrow). Although technically she already had a skirt picked out (the black one in the photo. It’s not one I made). I’m hoping she’ll be amenable to layering them, with the yellow one on top. This may go over like a lead balloon—we’ll see.

T-Shirt pattern

Anyway, the top is drawn straight from the T-shirt portion of this Kwik Sew pattern, but cropped off at the handy “lengthen or shorten here” line. It’s snug in the sleeves and loose in the body, which works in my opinion but is less than thrilling to Syo who’d prefer it to be skin-tight. She likes everything skin-tight these days. >_<

Hem and navy strip closeup (I used Steam-a-Seam inside the hems, too, which makes them pretty much effortless)

The photo I’m going from has navy trim on the yellow costume, so I pulled out some navy stretch-velvet I bought on a whim last winter and have been too terrified to actually do anything with. It wasn’t actually cheap, and I have some very traumatic history involving sewing polyester velvet, although that horrible stuff wasn’t stretch. I cut some rectangles and topstitched the strips down the sleeves using a a handy-dandy stretch stitch on my machine that looks vaguely like the athletic-style coverstitching you get on some RTW. Most importantly, it makes a nice, stretchy topstitch—I actually used it on the hems in the shirt, too. It’s stretchier and less fiddly (and less tunnelly!) than twin-needling. ¬†Anyway, I’m quite happy with how it worked for appliqueing the strips on the sleeves. I actually (first time ever!) used the pattern-piece for the neckband strip, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. All my reading plus previous experience suggests to me that a neckband strip needs to be a wee bit shorter than the neckband when working in a knit. This one was dead on, if not in fact a teensy bit longer. Boo. It was easy enough to shorten, but if I’d been trying to put it on in the round and hadn’t checked, it would’ve been a bad situation. Perhaps the instructions have some clever notes about this—if I ever make an outfit from this pattern that isn’t a complete throwaway I may actually read them.

Skirt pattern (View D)

The skirt comes from this McCall’s pattern. View D is the handkerchief skirt in the middle. Now, remember my whining about excessively dumbed-down patterns? Well, my next-biggest pet-peeve is pattern-pieces that are shaped like squares and rectangles.

Square and rectangular pattern pieces

Now, just for the record, I understand why people selling patterns include pattern pieces like these. And I would actually be a bit dissatisfied if I opened a pattern and got a bunch of directions for cutting squares of a particular size. But square pattern pieces are still silly. The handkerchief-skirt piece almost has a right to exist because of that circle in the middle… almost.

Although I did a pretty decent job on the shirt, construction-wise (if I do say so myself), everything went to hell a bit on the skirt. First, I was comparing the yoke-size to the RTW skirt, which is also a pull-on elastic skirt that I knew fit Syo (perils of sewing for a child when the child is in bed—no fitting opportunities), and it was way too long (the smallest size in my envelope is 7, which is a bit big). So I shortened it. Of course, I did this from one edge, which threw all my notches off. Oops. Next, the skirt appears to be cut to a somewhat larger size than the yoke. WTF?

My basic approach at this point became: It’s a knit. It’ll stretch.

I’m not sure the original skirt calls for an elastic at the waist (again, I could have read the instructions), but I figured one was in order. And then it just seemed easier to keep it place by turning the yoke into just a regular elastic-casing waistband. And then when I started to sew the skirt pieces to the yoke, I tried to match my notches, forgetting that that would throw off one side of the skirt. Also there are a lot of gathers, staring from the skirt’s centre hole being cut to a larger size, and ending with me taking a wider hem to narrow the yoke. ¬†And because of the notches being off, the gathers are not particularly even.

It’s not quite the sleek, cute thing on the envelope cover. Oh, well—hopefully it’ll work anyway. I mean, what little girl can resist a handkerchief skirt?

Don’t ask that.

Kwik Sew 1670

So that’s the major bits. If I get time/energy, I may turn the rest of the velvet into a leotard and/or leggings from this pattern. I do in fact have a leggings pattern I drafted for Syo back this summer, but it has a fair bit of negative ease—which was perfect for the fabric I was using at that point—and this stretch velvet doesn’t stretch that much. On the other hand the smallest size of the Kwik Sew pattern is a bit big for Syo… but she’s growing. And I’m pretty sure she’d live in stretch velvet leggings.

We’ll see.

Probably I should figure out some pom-poms, too.

Oh, and it turns out we are actually going to the Hallowe’en dance on Friday, so everything needs to be done by tomorrow, not for Monday. Oopsie.

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Bodge Job

Babydoll (Sucker Punch) costume

Botch job? That might make more sense. I think my spelling muscles have atrophied from years of spellcheck.

(Editor’s note: what follows is a really whiny, ranty post, heavy on the pet-peeves and largely self-created irritations. Despite the overall tone, it was really nice to spend a good chunk of time sewing—I haven’t had much time lately. But feel free to skip to something a little more cheery)

Hallowe’en sewing has been happening.

In theory, I should love Hallowe’en sewing. I love the holiday, the decorations, the costumes, everything. I love costumes in general, for pity’s sake. There’s just something about the thought of “worn only once” that I can’t shake out of my head, and it trickles down to crappy sewing. The overall look I’m happy with. The details suck balls.

An irksome skirt pattern

Let’s start with the skirt, since that’s where I started, too. The pattern is Simplicity 5084, a Lizzie McGuire pattern for a skirt in about a bajillion different options; View A was pretty much what I was going for, though. The package is for kids’ sizes 8-16, but whatever lovely soul owned it before me (and I shouldn’t complain too much since I paid less than a dollar for it, but it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to) cut it to the size 10. And then helpfully stuffed the cutoff little strips back in the envelope. I know I should be grateful for that, but I have to admit I find it even more irritating than just having a cut pattern set to that size in the first place. This is not terribly rational of me, I know. And ten is, technically, Tyo’s bottom-half size, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

This is not, however, the end of my irritations with the pattern. The next one comes from the drafting—there’s an identical yoke piece for front and back. Now, in my experience even children without Tyo’s particularly J-Lo-esque figures have a different shaped bottom than front. This kind of dumbed-down pattern drafting always annoys me. I traced out another version, keeping the waist the same but spreading the bottom to give it a little more room. I even managed to remember to add extra width to the pleated skirt piece when I cut it out. The fabric is a lightweight cotton denim, sturdy and nice to work with.

Poorly-executed lapped zipper

The next set of complaints are purely user error and failure-to-think-things through. I did a reasonably-successful blindstitch hem on the machine, but in hindsight I could totally have used the navy ribbon we got for trim to hide the hem—and then the ribbon would’ve been on BEFORE I topstitched the edges of the pleats down, rather than only trying to put it on after (which was really, really dumb. I think I was in Trim Denial.). Then I figured I’d try a lapped zipper. I followed the instructions from one of my vintage zippers, and basically it’s the

Lining creating weird pocket with the lapped zipper. I are speshul.

same idea as a jeans fly, except on a much narrower scale. I think it was the narrowness that befuddled me—anyway, results were not so good. Laughable, really. Although it works fine, it just isn’t pretty or well-finished. And then I couldn’t quite wrap my head around putting in the lining for the yoke, and managed to create some weird things like a part that folds over the top of the zipper. Ah, well. Costume-grade, sigh. I should’ve just put the lining in first. I should’ve done a lot of things differently, really. Live and learn, etc. The pleats didn’t come out even, either, even though I marked them off the pattern with remarkable (for me) precision.

Overall, though, it worked out. I’m very glad I added the extra width in the back. I also wound up scooping down the top of the front yoke a bit and letting out the yoke side-seams, which may have contribued to throwing off the pleats.

Simplicity 7401

The top needed to be a basic, short-sleeved, cropped top with a sailor collar. I figured pullover-the-head with elastic at the bottom. I have no idea how the tight-fitted movie version of the costume opens, but pull-over is good enough for Hallowe’en. Digging through the stash produced Simplicity 7401, which has a very basic top. My package goes up to size 8, which is technically Tyo’s upper-body size. So, whee! I traced it off, roughly measured to the length Tyo wanted, just above her belly-button—she informed me that the shorter original was too short. I’m not sure where she picked this modesty up from (especially as she’s going to be wearing a leotard, AT LEAST, underneath) but, well, I’m not going to complain. Syo doesn’t suffer from it in the least, I’ll add.

Poorly-finished V-neck with sailor-collar

Anyway, modifying to a V-neck (making sure it would be large enough to pull over the head) wasn’t too tough, nor was drafting a collar to match. Figuring out how to finish the collar—now that kinda broke my brain. A facing would probably have been a good idea, but I was lazy and just wanted to hide the seam on the outside under the collar. It worked great except for the bit at the V right in the front. I’ve never done a sailor collar before—I imagine there’s a trick to finishing the front. I could probably even have learned it if I’d bothered to do ten seconds of research. I didn’t. So it’s a bit, erm, rough. There may be some fray-check involved.

The sleeve cap-ease seemed weirdly distributed, although in hindsight that’s probably because the shoulders are supposed to have button-overlaps and I forgot to remove the extra length on the back piece. ¬†Which is probably throwing something really off somewhere, although I think it looks fine. Teehee-whoops. Either way, there’s a fair bit of ease and denim doesn’t do ease, so I didn’t even try. There’s some weird gathering and pleating going on in the shoulders. Costume.

I did think to use my navy trim to cover the hems for the sleeves—nice, clean finish. This mock-grosgrain ribbon doesn’t go around curves as nicely as real grosgrain, but with the running stitch decoration you can tighten up the inner side and make it curve fairly nicely, which I do like.

It was determined that Tyo could, in fact, slip the thing on and off over her head, although it takes a bit of wriggling. Maybe I need to check her measurements again, although I measured her only a few weeks back. In particular, the arms seem tight. Ah, well.

Then, I decided to stitch the elastic at the bottom to the fabric, the same method Peter covers in his boxers sewalong. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while, and figured it was as good a place to try as any.

Silly, silly girl.

Erm, so this technique probably works really well with light, thin fabrics, the kind you might used for boxers. With denim, not so much. I mean it looks fine. It’s just that the elastic, which was snugly comfortable around Tyo’s ribcage when I measured it, now doesn’t pull in nearly enough, because of the thicker denim. And unlike a plain elastic casing, it’s a PITA to fix. I tried ironing with lots of steam to tighten it up (as sometimes help with shirring) and that produced a small improvement. Next step may be soaking and throwing in the dryer.

The last bit of the costume (aside from accessories like a gun with charms hanging from it and two katanas) is a neck-tie which goes under the collar and ties at the front and, mercifully, covers my nasty collar finish where it shows at the front. Yay! Even better, this  light-weight navy cotton with a little white flower-print was in stash, from the stuff my grandma gave me last summer. Even even better, there was a long, narrow, folded bit hanging off one end of the remnant that, when snipped off, was perfect for being finished into this long, narrow tie. Yay!

Buffy Sleeves

Next up: Syo’s costume. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as cheerleader. So far, I have the sleeves! (The “black” stripe is actually blue stretch velvet I have lying around. If I get crazy ambitious, she may even get a leotard out of it.)

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