Tag Archives: kids’ clothing

Wee babbie bits

The sudden appearance of the Euphoria in my life has prompted another little spate of baby sewing. The day it arrived I pulled out a number of baby patterns and did some tracing, mostly of very basic pieces.

We’ll start with Stretch & Sew 850. This is a vintage knit pattern (dating to around the era of my birth, so yeah, I guess I’m officially old now?), a very basic baby sweatsuit type of thing, in what it claims are sizes for 1-18 months.

There are only three sizes in the pattern, and the pants in the picture above, which fit the twins quite nicely, are made from the smallest size. So the “1 to 6 month size” is really more of a (large) six month size. Not the first time I’ve run into this with older baby patterns, but it still confuses me. I compared the pattern to some pants and shirts that currently fit before picking a size.

And I will say, it’s a very satisfactory little sweat-pant pattern, with one issue—there is neither pattern piece nor lengths given for the ribbing bands pieces anywhere on the pattern (so cuffs, shirt hem, and neckline). Instead, throughout the instructions tell you to measure the required length, calculate 2/3 of it, and cut a strip that length for the band. Not really too big of an issue for the cuffs, but a bit annoying for the neck of the shirt. Also, I’m like “really? You couldn’t bother to measure your own damn pattern?”

Come to think of it I don’t think I finished my post on these white dresses…

I’d chalk it up to being spoiled by the excellent hand-holding of most modern indie patterns, except I’m pretty sure the last Kwik Sew I used of a similar vintage had not only pattern pieces for all the bands, but separate ones depending on whether your bands were going to be of ribbing or self fabric.

(I won’t confess that I pretty much never use band pattern pieces anyway… so really my irritation is more a matter of form than substance.)

Also, instead of indicating a shorter cutting line for the version of the shirt that has a band at the hem, the instructions would have you cut the shirt out and then cut off 1 1/4” from the bottom. And that’s not even mentioning that the pattern calls for putting a zipper in one shoulder (with 1/4” seam allowance) to facilitate getting the shirt on and off over giant baby noggins. Anyone who was dealing with baby clothes in the 70s or early 80s, was this a thing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shoulder zipper in baby clothes. But maybe it’s a thing?

My first go at the shirt was a bit of a fail. I used the same thick purple fleece as the pants, but in the heavy fabric it was just too small (and a sweatshirt should be roomy). It was cute, though. I wound up binding the neck rather than adding a band, so as not to make the opening any smaller. Since I did not, y’know, install a zipper. I should probably try again in a larger size.

I opted to try again in a lighter fabric—the scraps from my birthday top, in fact—but I couldn’t resist tweaking it a bit into a tent shape. And it’s very fun and swingy and perfect with leggings.

I made the sleeves about an inch longer and they’re still a bit short, but the shoulders are loose. So obviously drafted on the square baby model (which is fair, my first two babies were deliciously solid chunks, but the twins never really got there and seem to already be moving towards lean toddlerhood…)

At the same time I was tracing S&S 850, I thought I would check out what the smallest size of my trusty old Jalie 2920 leggings pattern looked like. The smallest size is for 2 years, but it was actually smaller than the sweatpants pattern I used above, so I figured I’d test it out. Obviously it’s for leggings, not sweatpants, so the amount of intended ease (and stretch) is very different. I made it up in this beautiful/horrible slippery polyester blue print (covered in shiny silver dots) that is perfect for making a toddler happy. I figured the worst case scenario is I add them to the boxes of size 2 hand-me-downs I’m already hoarding. But the poly fabric actually isn’t super stretchy, so while they’re a little roomy now as leggings go I don’t think they’ll make it to age two. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I’m much fonder of the Jalie pattern.

As I dug through a box looking for knit fabrics for an Adrienne blouse or Luna tank, I stumbled across a couple of wee scraps obviously hoarded from other projects. Why they’re in general population and not the scrap bin I couldn’t tell you except that outside of work my approach to organization is, um, lackadaisical. But anyway. There was a bit of pale blue burnout fabric that became another swingy tee, though I did have to cut the wee short sleeves on the cross-grain (this fabric hasn’t much stretch so it seems to be working)

I will say, the Euphoria handles these lightweight hems like magic. I haven’t needed to stabilize anything, a bit of tweaking of the tensions has been all it’s needed. I’m getting a bit better at folding the hems under consistently. I do think I’d like to invest in the clear presser foot, to make topstitching the neckline tidily easier.

Uneven hem from lazy cutting, not wonky folding!

A second piece must be an off-cut from a knit maxi dress I made some time ago. I love this fabric. The piece wasn’t quite long enough for leggings, but I figured with the addition of a coordinating black extra-wide baby-grow style cuff they would work (and I was feeling bored with shirts.)

I used Jalie 2920 again, but pinched out about 1/2” from the width, plus the aforementioned length modifications.

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out although I’m not sure how sturdy they’ll be. Still cute.

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A shirt to match a shirt

Shirt on left is mine, shirt on right is from Baby Gap.

I can’t remember who gave us the hand-me-down little white shirt (on the right). It’s Baby Gap, and fairly exquisite, with lots of cute details—back buttons, smocking, little puffed sleeves.

But there was, of course, only one, and while I don’t NEED to dress my twins alike, it’s fun to at least have them coordinating. So for a long time I’ve wanted to make a second similar shirt.

Things crystallized when I came across two little scraps of pintucked batiste, I think made as demonstration or practice pieces, too tiny for most anything but with too much labour put into them to send them to the bin. Just right, as it turns out, for making a wee little 6-month sized shirt.

Not much went into the making of this shirt. I sewed the side seams (actually I think I forgot to press them!). I rolled tiny hems with the rolled hem foot on my Featherweight, which for once behaved almost flawlessly, top and bottom. I hand-wound a bobbin of elastic thread for my modern Janome machine (I’m sure it would’ve worked for the Featherweight too but I didn’t have any empty bobbins for that one), and made a few rows of elasticated shirring stitches around the top of the shirt.

What took the longest was actually finding a similar off white fabric for the little sleeve/shoulder straps (and if the light is good you can see I didn’t quite succeed). The batiste I had made the pintucks in is just faintly ivory in colour. I’m sure I have more of it in stash somewhere, but I didn’t manage to find it, so I wound up going with a slightly heavier cotton for the sleeves. And the colour that seemed to match in my basement sewing room is, of course, way off in daylight. Ah well. Again they’re just rectangles, the edges narrow-hemmed, and a couple of rows of shirring added.

I basically guesstimated where to stitch the sleeves down front and back, but they seem to work all right. As a bonus, the very stretchy shirring makes it quite easy to take on and off.

So I’m pretty charmed by it, and I think it’s a good mate to the storebought one. We also have one matching (though from a completely different brand again) white ruffly diaper cover… now if I can just manage to make another of those!

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Variations on a theme

A few weeks back I presented my husband with several pieces of fabric for potential baby dresses, and he selected this blue/white shot cotton. And then we both got ridiculously distracted by dressing the babies in matching white things. You’d think we were noob parents, not veterans of 20 years. But the other day I finally tackled it.

These came together during a single day’s naps. (Which totals about four hours although less than half of that is reliable “usable” time.) this is possible only because I didn’t use a pattern or need to rethread any of the machines, and I had the fabric pre-washed and ready to go.

These look slightly different from the white and red-striped versions, but the basic idea is the same. I used the full width of the 45” fabric to make the dresses. I made the armscye curves a little bit smaller this time around, which means they’re less oversized than the other dresses… I may regret this later but I like how they fit now and our sundress season is short. They’re also a little shorter, although still long enough to catch on R’s knees now she’s crawling.

The biggest change I wanted this time around was to incorporate a bodice panel type thing front and back. Inspired by the free Oliver & S Popover Sundress, which I made aeons ago when my niece was three, but only goes down to a size 2. So the panels would serve as binding for the front and back, and then I would add bias tape to the armscyes that turned into the shoulder ties. (Opposite of the other two dresses, where the ties came from the binding that encased the front and back gathering.)

I also chose a wider binding this time, so I made sure to pre-press the armscye curve into it. I used pleats instead of gathering, just for a change, as I was bored of gathering, though I don’t know that the pleats where any less time consuming. And finally, I added a bit of pompom lace to the fronts.

As with the white dresses, I used the full width of the fabric, with a single seam in the back. I cut the front and back panels to the width I knew I wanted the chest to be, 12 cm, and then pleated to match that. I forced myself not to fuss too much over the pleats.

A bit shorter than some of the other dresses, but they still get caught on her knees when crawling.

My bias strips came out a bit shorter this time (or the method of binding the armscye requires a longer strip) so they tie in knots, not bows, but that’s all right for the thicker binding as bows might be quite bulky. I could’ve pieced for longer strips, but I didn’t.

I should maybe pause to mention that having a rotary cutter and mat has changed how I tend to make bias tape. I still start with a rectangle, cut off one end at a bias corner, and sew that to the other end, but instead of sewing the resulting parallelogram into an offset tube and cutting miles of continuous bias, I tend to cut individual strips, sewing them together only as necessary. It’s more annoying sewing the strips individually but the cutting is so much faster and more precise.

The worst part of nap time sewing is that I can’t really take process pictures, as I use my phone to play soothing white noise for the babies. I always prefer blog posts with process pictures. Oh well.

I gotta say, I think these are my favourite yet. I love the lace and the panel and the pleats. Part of me is wondering how many more little sundresses they could possibly need, but another part of me is eyeing up every light-weight cotton in the stash…

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Romping around

I don’t have a huge collection of baby patterns, which is to say that I still have more baby patterns than anyone who wasn’t planning on having any more babies in her life has any business having.

The problem with baby patterns, and kid patterns in general, is you have a pretty limited window of time in which to make use of them, before they’re outgrown.

Tris looks like she’s taking a bow.

So I find myself, since I DO have babies to sew for, making a mental list of the patterns I don’t want to miss out on. Fortunately it’s not a long list.

This six-month sized Simplicity pattern is indisputably at the top of that list.

At a guess, it’s 1950s? The pattern pieces are unprinted, and several of the dress pieces are represented only by newsprint tracings of the original pieces (at least they’re there, though).

I don’t have a HUGE amount of experience with unprinted patterns. Actually I’m pretty sure the only other one I’ve ever actually finished was this shirt back in 2012. There are resources out there that will tell you what the mysterious punched holes mean, but I mainly relied on a general familiarity with how patterns work and referring to the instructions. Because I like to make things hard on myself.

I’ve never made rompers before, so I did find myself referring to the instructions quite a bit. They’re sparse, but I found them basically perfect, and I even largely followed them. Up to and including hand-stitching the inside of the front bibs. I considered using snaps instead of the suggested buttons on the straps (they’re out of sight inside the back portion of the pants), but I all the sew-on snaps I could find were either teeny tiny or way too big.

They are, um, a little roomy. The elastic along the back of the pants are too loose (and I made it a couple of inches shorter than directed), and unfortunately given the construction it’s pretty hard to adjust this. I did add extra buttonholes in the straps, so they’re at a shortened length now but I can switch to the full length if they get too short before the end of the summer.

I wish I could shorten this elastic more easily.

I’ve got some vintage appliqués I’d like to stitch to the front of the bibs, if I get a chance. And I’ve got the dress view cut out…

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A wee little thing

In a rare (these days) burst of energy a few weeks ago, i made a baby onesie.

I used the free onesie pattern from Small Dream Factory. (Apparently somehow I don’t have any baby onesie patterns?) I didn’t go back to the page to check the instructions after I managed to get it printed, but it’s pretty simple. The one thing I’ll recommend is make sure you mark the shoulder on both front and back pieces so you can line them up properly. The drafting is maybe a touch odd at the bottom of the armscye, but the finished garment seems to work well enough. And the pattern could’ve been tiled to use less paper, but it’s hard to get too fussy about something free. 🙂

I cut it out entirely using my rotary cutter, which is nice for small pieces and wiggly knits, especially since I took over some of the countertop in the basement kitchenette to have my cutting mat at a comfortable no-bending-required level. It’s especially nice for cutting perfectly even binding pieces, which helped a lot with the bound edges in this thing, and I do think they turned out pretty nicely, if I do say so myself.

I did my usual triple-fold binding, which has a tiny raw edge on the inside, but is much easier than trying to make a knit stay in a double-fold configuration, and I am NOT up for hard right now. Sherry of Pattern, Scissors, Cloth covers the method, except that she overlocks the unfinished edge to look nice inside, whereas I just trim mine close as needed once it’s stitched down.

The smallest hammer-in snaps I had for the bottom of the onesie were these pearl snaps, and they’re a bit heavy duty. I should probably have added some interfacing or something to support the fabric, too. So not really ideal, although I like the colour.

Obviously I can’t try the onesie on a baby yet. From comparison with some storebought ones we’ve received it’s a little on the wider, shorter side, which is certainly how my previous babies ended up, but I’m not at all sure how the twins will start out, at least.

I don’t have any more of this fabric, having turned the last few scraps into Watson Bikini underwear, but I wouldn’t mind making a second onesie for a wear-home-from-hospital set, if I can figure out something vaguely coordinating.

I realized (with some dismay) this past weekend that I’m no longer comfortable lifting and moving the various stacked plastic bins that hold my stash, which means that I either need to make do with the fabrics I already have out or ask for help to reach stuff in the bins, which isn’t impossible but will definitely make me think twice about things. So there may or may not be a second baby onesie… we will have to see. At the moment even getting off the couch feels fairly strenuous. On the other hand I will be reducing my work hours and even going on leave in a few weeks, so it’s possible I’ll have energy for something else, but I’m reluctant to set any lofty goals, even if I am fantasizing ceaselessly about things.

The 30-week belly

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Hallowe’en Roundup

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Actual Hallowe’en photo

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

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The best actual Hallowe’en picture.

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

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

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

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

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

Pocket watches were an important elements of the costumes.

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A long-awaited closeup of Syo’s hat

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

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

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

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Tailcoat and monocle.

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

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Internal pocketwatch pocket.

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

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Syo with monocle

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

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

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

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Painted jacket: ruffle trim and stenciled rose.

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

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

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

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Baby Steps

New Look 6641

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

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

The Waif Models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hallowe’en Spotlight: lace-up leather shorts

Lace-Up Shorts

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

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

Cutest pattern ever?

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

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

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

Laces!

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

Back darts

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

Front view

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

Grommets

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

Back View

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

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

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

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

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Carol Evans’ Wardrobe

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Moving stress + running errands our last day in Cow Town + 50% off sale at Value Village facilitated a bit of a splurge on vintage children’s patterns, I fear. How can you resist a bit of retail therapy for a quarter apiece?

The patterns range in size from 4 to 6X, and all seem to have been intended for wear by a girl named Carol Evans, who I presume was a vampire trapped eternally in a child’s body, since the patterns range in vintage from 50s through 70s. Or they might have been collected more recently by a mom-stitcher with a thing for vintage patterns, not unlike myself. But really, I think it’s the vampire thing.

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This fifties housecoat just may be the child’s version of this pattern, which Peter and Cathy rehabilitated so stunningly into an “Opera Coat.” I’m going to assume that our little vampire was at least as capable of turning something so drab and basic into something luxe and glamorous as Cathy is.

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This might just be the quintessential fifties little girl dress. According to this website, it’s from 1954, as is the preceding housecoat. Also, I love the little capelet. Every vampire (child) needs a capelet. Not to mention plenty of variations on a dress, for when she gets blood on it. Also, those of you who did time in Vampire: The Masquerade, dig the black satin version with the rose.

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Something about the white version of this sweet little sailor dress just makes me squee. Presumably this had a similar effect on Carol Evans. Or possibly she ran away to sea to hide her lack of aging. You have to keep moving when you’re a vampire child.

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Doesn’t this one looked sophisticated? I want to say very Jackie O, but I wasn’t around back then to observe and haven’t really researched, so you can correct me if necessary. Or maybe it’s Chanel. Doesn’t that little jacket need to be made of boucle, with a quilted lining and chain in the hem? Poor Carol has been size six for at least a decade, after all—she has to be feeling more grown-up inside than out. This is just the dress for when she wants to look like a miniature (and very chic) adult

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These two McCall’s patterns fascinate me, not so much for their contents as their style. I had instantly pegged the dress as sixties (based on the illustration style, the dress itself is such a classic I think with minor hem-length variations it would look at home in any decade since 1900. Possibly 1850.) The pants wardrobe, on the other hand, I had pegged as classic 70s. The fashions, the art, the bell-bottoms, the gingham. Then I checked the dates on both patterns. The 60s one is indeed earlier—1968. But the “70s” pattern is 1969. I kind of feel like I’ve captured the cusp of a decade in pattern form—a snapshot of the transition from one style regime to another. Especially since both are by the same company. As for Carol, well, they both obviously cater to her need to appear childlike and innocent to manipulate the adult humans around her. Can’t have anyone suspecting, after all.

The patterns go on (It appears later in the 70s Carol headed somewhere chilly and needed some serious winter gear) but I think I’ll leave it at that. Speculation on the life of Carol the vampire child welcome in the comments! 😉

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Prezzies (2)

Simplicity 1149

More fun, although considerably more time-intensive than Style 2304, was Simplicity 1149. This is probably in the running for cutest little pattern ever. I was a little concerned about the width vs. length ratio, and obviously that kind of horizontal skirt poof isn’t going to happen without intense crinolining of a type I’m not keen to subject my nieces to, but I’m hopeful the sheer cuteness will make up for it.

Damn, this is cute.

Dress & Bolero

My older niece, Fyon (who is five), loves having dresses that match mine (well, loves it more than my kids do, anyway), so I thought I would use up the rest of my navy seersucker from the Cambie on a dress for her. I looked through my patterns for something close in style to the Cambie, but the closest I could find was actually the dress I made her last year, and I didn’t want to re-use a pattern where there are so many other crazy fun ones to try. So, Simplicity 1149. And I thought this navy cotton (cotton poly?) with the little white flowers would be the perfect complementary fabric. It originally came from my Grandmother’s stash, and Tyo had sorta earmarked it to make boxers out of, but hopefully she’s forgiven me for putting it to a more immediate use. I used it for the sash, the lining of the little jacket, and, most importantly, the ruffle ornament.

Ruffles!

There are two kinds of “ruffle” on this dress, both of which were pleated using the ruffler that came with my Pfaff, attached to my singer Featherweight. I have three ruffler feet now, but one only works with the army machine (which is put away and not really reliable) and the other works with the quick-snap foot on my modern machine, and has driven my absolutely fucking nuts in the past.*  I set it to pleat (gathering every five stitches, rather than with every stitch) although really there are plenty of places where it screwed that up. It looks fine, though—half the battle with ruffles is not to sweat the small stuff, in my opinion.

Anyway, for the skirt ruffle, I ripped on-grain strips, stitched them all together, and finished the edges with the rolled hemmer. For the edging, I pressed the strips in half lengthwise and basted down the open edge—I find if you don’t baste it closed, the ruffler tries to ruffle just the top layer and Bad Things Happen.

A very blurry attempt at a closeup. 😦 Showing edge-pleats and back buttons and bow.

Syo was eerily enthused when she came home after a quick mom-free vacation and discovered this little thing lying around the house. The first thing she had to do was try it on. (I’ll remind you that Syo just turned nine, while the pattern alleges itself to be a “size 5”.) It’s absolutely not the sort of thing she would be willing to wear in public—but some latent toddler in her just couldn’t resist trying it on to twirl around the house. It’s SNUG—she has to exhale a bit to get the waist button closed (These fifties pattern that assume that children have waists. Pfft.) But it’s still on her.

You cannot resist the Cute. You will be assimilated.

The skirt is obviously very short on my nine-year-old. Fortunately Fyon is a little narrower than Syo, and significantly shorter, so I’m thinking the fit should be great.

I finished the skirt hem with the last of my 2″ horsehair braid (actually, I was about 2″ short, and had to patch in a little section of hem with bits of 1″ horsehair braid. It is Not Pretty, but it’s all covered by fabric now and doesn’t seem to show. And combined with the double-tiered lining I added (made of stiff cotton-poly blend broadcloth) it really had a surprising amount of loft.

Bringing out the Inner Ballerina

We are so cute

Back view

Yes Yes We are.

Oh, wait. What. You’re still reading? Sorry, I kind of succumbed to The Cute there for a minute. Insidious stuff, that. Sorry for the grainy photos—this was the best light we could find in the five minutes we had before I went off to work that morning, and the camera did not like it.

Back, with buttons

Here, have a quick closeup of the back buttons (buttonholes made using my Greist buttonholer, ). I guess I shoulda taken a photo without the sash tied, too. /sigh.

but sooooo cute…

*possibly because there’s just too much vibration and movement on the light-weight, modern plastic machine, but anyway, I don’t trust it and didn’t feel like taking the time to experiment, when I have a perfectly good Pfaff ruffler foot anyway.

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