Tag Archives: kids’ clothing

Wee black bats

The twins came home from the NICU shortly before Hallowe’en two years ago. I was tickled by an impossible fantasy: tiny twin bat costumes. Well, those didn’t happen, and other costumes came our way last year but this year, the bats came home to roost.

It maybe starts with capes, though. The twins are getting to an age where they’re excited to dress up, but their motor skills are still about fifty-fifty whether they can put their own pants on. But capes—capes are easy to put on and off. (And also fairly simple to sew, which is bit an important feature in our current time-poor phase of life). Some of my older girls’ friends growing up had a dress up box filled with fancy capes their mom had made, a cape for every occasion.

So I’ve been thinking about capes off and on. And bats on and off. So maybe bat capes was inevitable.

First came the pattern. I wasn’t going to go out and buy one (although there are plenty available). A full-circle cape, while easy to draft, would be too fabric-hungry, especially if I’m making two. But I definitely still wanted a cloak feel, not a chincy superhero cape. Eventually I settled on a half-circle style, still plenty of swish but not quite as big of a fabric hog.

The clincher was the above diagram, which showed up in a Google image search from I don’t recall where. But it made it very clear how to adapt a half-circle cape from an existing shirt pattern. Which I already have, in a form complete with hood, in Jalie 3355, all traced out in the twins’ size (or at least size 2, which is close enough.)

The twins were, of course, terribly excited to help me out with the drafting.

So the only thing you really need from the original pattern is the neckline and the shoulder, which gives you the size of the dart to take to make the half-circle sit nicely on the shoulders. (I wouldn’t mind making a version that converts the dart into the top of a side seam, for more efficient fabric usage…)

And of course, the hood. I wanted to make sure, though, that the hood was nice and roomy. I’m a fan of a feature of the hood of McCall’s 6800, which is a dart that makes the oversized hood fit on the neckline. So I added about an inch of extra depth, to be taken out with a dart aligned with the shoulder seam, and then added about 1/4” of height as well, just in case, as the hood is designed for stretch fabrics.

My fabric of choice was a black polyester suiting, extremely drapey and exactly the kind of slithery, fraying, impossible-to-press fabric that I most loathe sewing with. But, it was in stash, and I was happy to have it not be in stash, and that was the main thing.

To bat-ify the cape, I made the hem reverse-scalloped, but the main thing is of course the ears.

I did a bit of googling of bat ears, and a bit more googling of methods for adding animal ears to hoods. I went with the “cut a slit in the top of the hood and sew the ears in, tapering to nothing” method. I free-handed a shape that seemed about right, directly on the fabric, and cut and sewed. Living dangerously, though honestly as long as they weren’t round I think they would be fine. They are a bit floppy due to the fabric; I thought about adding interfacing but since I wasn’t prepared to interface the whole hood I was pretty sure they’d fall down anyway. I think they’re still fun.

There is nothing much to say about the construction, other than the fabric was a bitch and every machine acted up on me.

The coverstitch (which NEVER gives me issues—nor should it at that price point) was gathering everything no matter how I played with the differential feed. My rolled hem on the serger worked fine in tests but on the actual cape managed to miss catching the cut edge and then form a giant tangle of thread around the prong that the fabric is supposed to roll around, and which actually bent the prong. So I may never do another rolled hem again. Then the regular machine had the inner end of the thread on my nearly-empty spool come loose and tangle with the outgoing end.

It turned out that literal gremlins, aka the the twins, had gotten at the differential feed of the coverstitch, and cranked it to max. However, since I NEVER touch it, I actually forgot where it is and I kept adjusting the presser foot pressure instead. Facepalm.

But, I got them done. River got her first training in pulling pins as I sewed and putting them in the pin cushion (this was ALMOST enthralling enough to keep her from pulling them right back out). The older girls provided childcare (husband is sick as a dog with the non-covid cold the rest of us are just getting over) enough for me to get them finished, despite the recalcitrant machines. And they are utterly, battily adorable, if I do say so myself.

My mother-in-law has suggested Red Riding Hood capes next, but really the sky’s the limit, right?

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Dark Academia

Is apparently a thing? And the older girls want to assemble outfits and take pictures. So they have been collecting, among other things, pleated plaid skirts, which are apparently having a Moment again.

So they thought the twins needed some too.

A few months ago Tyo picked up an old plaid flannel duvet cover at Value Village, purely for the fabric. While flannel isn’t exactly ideal for this kind of skirt, I wasn’t going to go stash-diving, or sacrifice anything precious, for this quick make. Also, the edge where the buttons had attached was already hemmed.

So, I measured roughly what seemed like a good skirt length for a two-year-old, plus a bit for folding over elastic, and tore off the long, hemmed edge. Oh, I removed the buttons, too, in case you were wondering. Once I had a long, hemmed rectangle, I cut it in half (because twins) and started pleating. In the end I didn’t have quite enough fabric for fully-pleated skirts, so they have a flat front reminiscent of a kilt, which I am ok with.

The wavy hem is not my fault!

Once I had lengths a bit bigger than the twins’ bottoms, I stitched them up into a tube, and added elastic at the waist, so they pull on just like pyjama bottoms.

Action shot. Also: first fashion dolls!

The only hitch was actually that time-saving pre-finished hem from the original duvet. Of course the fabric was cut, and then hemmed, off-grain, while I had torn the upper edge of the skirt so as to be perfectly on grain, so the hems didn’t line up perfectly when I sewed the skirts into tubes. To manage this I unpicked a few inches at each end and then “blended” (aka fudged) the two lengths together, and the jog isn’t overly noticeable. They definitely won’t take home any sewing awards, but they’re still pretty cute.

I will add, I finished these several weeks ago and am still waiting on the older girls to put together their photo shoot. So, you get messy living-room action shots.

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Simple white T-shirts

(I made these shirts, and wrote this post, months ago, but never hit publish because I wanted better photos. I should never do that; it never works out. So if the twins look vastly different in age between pictures, that’s why.)

There’s been a debate in the sewing community over the years on the value of making tee shirts, when they’re so readily and cheaply available. Obviously I’m on “team make it anyway, at least if it’s fun for you.” But I did question my sanity a bit on deciding to make these. Surely there are plain white toddler tee shirts to be had fairly easily for a couple of bucks? But in the end I’m glad I made them.

I’ve honestly been wanting to make the twins shirts like these since I finished their Christmas overalls. I held off because, well, see above about tee shirts, and when we switched over to the 18-month clothes the volume of hand-me-downs in their wardrobe doesn’t even fit in their dresser, plus their dad has made a bit of a hobby of scouring thrift shops for matching second-hand baby outfits—he enjoys the challenge. Frankly he’s a better baby stylist than me. But he has increased the number of overalls in their wardrobe substantially, and one thing you are NOT likely to find at the thrift store is multiple white unstained toddler shirts. So these were actually a practical addition.

Look how much more hair River has now than when I took the pics with the overalls!

For the pattern, I used Jalie 2805, which I had traced the smallest size way back when I made the white sweatshirts. The Jalie size F (=2T, I’m told) is still pretty roomy on the twins, but this is also a pretty fitted style. I figured I’d start with the short sleeve because a) summer, and b) no worries about excess length.

And I already have the fabrics and the patterns, so might as well, right?

And the shirts are a little bit big, but that also means they’ll fit for a comfortable length of time.

The fabric is a beefy cotton interlock I bought at some point when thinking I would make tee shirts for my husband. It turns out he’s ridiculously fussy about tees, both fit and feel, and while I won’t swear that I’ll never try again (because finding him a tee he’ll wear at a store is also pretty hit or miss) it won’t be with this fabric, which apparently doesn’t “feel right.” I was actually looking for a cotton Lycra for the twins but this seemed pretty good for a start so I ended my stash search.

Other than that there’s not much to say. The construction is simple. I will brag a little as I think I’m finally making some progress with the precision of my topstitching on the coverstitch (although the hems aren’t quite as tidy.) The heavier fabric is a little puffy, but I also could probably have pressed better. Making a garment entirely on the serger and coverstitch still feels a bit like cheating, though.

Oh and they probably wouldn’t even be finished if I hadn’t needed to change the thread on the coverstitch to make Syo’s grad gown…. (But that’s another story for another day!)

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Camouflage pinafores

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

Can you spot the pocket?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unnecessary Jeggings

Or, Thing You Can Sew During Naptime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cottagecore Mini

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

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

They are pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oversized Sweaters

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

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

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

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

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

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Little scrap dresses

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

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

My very Helpful Helpers

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

Inspiration dresses, not sewn by me.

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

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

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

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

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

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Wee knock-off overalls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmassy shirts

Last year, when the twins were just wee, my stylish sister-in-law got them some adorable 6 to 12 month size Christmas leggings… that were hilariously huge since they were still basically newborn-sized at that point.

However, this year the leggings are perfect sized! I’m not usually really big on holiday-themed outfits, since I tend to try to “save” them for the holiday and then feel sad that they only get worn once or twice, but since we had the leggings, I figured some plain red tops to set off the leggings would be a good idea.

I used the same vintage pattern as the last few shirts, tweaked to a swingy tent shape (again) because I like it with leggings. Considering my initial annoyance with it, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this pattern (and more to come).

There’s not much more to say. They’re not at all well-sewn, being thrown together hastily in the last days before Christmas. Sewing in the moments of distraction while the twins are playing is getting harder and harder now that they can climb chairs and things. The neck bands are too tight and the cover stitching is questionable and there’s a hole in one armpit where the serger missed some stitching (that at least is easy to fix). But on the whole they’re cute and served their purpose! And will hopefully continue to be worn for a bit yet.

They used up some scraps from my second Adrienne blouse, which I haven’t managed to blog, not that there’s much to say about it since it’s identical to my first except in red. So, cute, “free”, scrap-busting, and just in time for Christmas… it’s been a bummer of a week for us (one of our old cats died, and we’re pretty devastated, frankly, on top of all the weirdness of the pandemic Christmas) so these are a win I’ll take.

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