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Erin from Our Family Four for KCW
spring

why I sew: Erin

Hello everyone!  It’s Erin here, for a last round of chatting about sewing.  This time, the “why,” something I always am interested in hearing opinions about.

I was really interested in writing a post about why I sew because it is something that I am often thinking through and my answer is constantly evolving.  Why DO I want to sew clothes for my kids? There are beautiful and sometimes cheaper options in stores, and this is taking my free time!  Why?

Square Ears

The first garment that I ever sewed was just over a year ago, and on the heels of just having spent a month knitting a scarf for my son.  It took me several hours one weekend to put together a dress for Hannah, but I was finished with it by Sunday night, and I was floored.  I truly felt like a magician.  On Friday there was just a pile of fabric, and on Sunday evening there was a dress, a wearable dress that didn’t look tacky or awkwardly handmade.  I was boiling over with pride and buzzing a bit from the possibilities that lie ahead.

I think that is a little bit of my answer.  The buzzing.

NewImage

That successful dress was my fuel at the beginning.  We were headed to the states for a month, going to the beach and to visit with various family members in various locations, and that was as good of a reason as any to fill my little peanut’s wardrobe with summer dresses.  So that is what I did.

That was another motivation: my cute girl in cute summer garments.

NewImage

I think any sewer can agree that some motivation comes from knowing that you can make something as good or better than what you can buy in stores, and often for much less money.

That was a motivator too: thriftiness.

OurFamilyFour

I also could not ignore the empowerment.  That wonderful feeling that I had taken a problem and was doing something about it.

I mentioned this earlier this season, but I will always feel a strong fondness towards the Bubble Pocket Shorts for pulling me out of an ugly episode of mom guilt about my petite daughter and my inability to find shorts for her one afternoon in the store.  I went home, bought the pattern, and sewed up these beauties while she napped that day.  While I sewed, I reminded myself that my little girl was fine, I was doing just fine as her mom, and if I couldn’t find shorts that fit her, then I would MAKE shorts that fit her.

Mini Me 14Romper pants

The more that I sew the more I keep breaking the sewing “rules” that I set for myself.  My most recent broken rule was, I’m not going to sew clothes for myself.  But then, over the past month, I have been.

OurFamilyFour1

I remember deciding that I was not going to sew with knits, because it was just not worth my time or effort.  We can all think of a variety of stores where we can find cute knit clothes for our kids, and there is no reason to put so much effort into items that are just play wear.

Hannah s Large Navy Floral Raglan 19Kaleidoscope Top and Berry Picking 17

But sometimes those stores are full of knits with characters on them, or strange phrases, or slews of kitties (come on H&M!), and the knit items I can make myself are just better.

Hannah Green Floral Playdate Tunic 3Jayce Bimaa Hoodie 8Red Poppy Raglan 5

Plus, some of those patterns for knits aren’t that difficult to put together in the first place, so maybe they are worth the time and the effort.

Yellow Striped Bimaa  8Lulu Purple Floral 1

As I’ve continued to sew different items through different seasons, I’ve realized that my initial motivators have subsided a bit.  Sometimes sewing saves me some money, but sometimes it doesn’t. If I want to try a designer or better weight fabric, use fun embellishments, stock up on a few basics, and buy the pattern, it’s not always the less expensive option.  But I’ve found that the itch to make clothes is as strong as ever.  I finish at least one garment a week, but I am usually working on several.

OurFamilyFour2Hannah s Liberty Collared Nessie 1

I recently realized that items that I used to put off because they seemed too difficult now look more like good challenges than impossible obstacles.  This is a good thing.

Minty Family Reunion Dress 9

 Now I have a notebook with a list of garments that I’ve never made, techniques that I have never tried, and presser feet that I have read good things about but never used.  (The rolled hem foot is next on my list!)  I plan to cross as many of these items as I can off of my list by the end of the year.

OurFamilyFour3

I’ve realized that, for me, sewing is no longer a means to an end.  It’s not just a way to give my daughter a vacation wardrobe for less money, or clothes that better fit her frame, or my son a special Lego shirt.  I sew for my kids because I love them.  I don’t think that it is the best way, or the only way, but it is one of my ways.  Dressing them in something that I put so much work into feels the same as preparing their favorite dinner, giving them a thoughtfully chosen Christmas present, pushing them endlessly on the swings, or rocking them in the middle of the night.  It’s good, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s tedious, but it is all an extension of my love.

Hbm 1

  Furthermore, now it’s a hobby.  A good hobby that sometimes fills a wardrobe need, sometimes saves money, sometimes has me tearing my hair out, but almost always leaves me with the pleasant feeling of accomplishment and tangible evidence of hard(ish) work that has paid off.

V Neck Geranium 2Meadow Sally Dress 10

Last week I ran into an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a few months.  After a few moments of exchanging pleasantries, she fumbled out, “So, are you still doing the sewing…thing?”

I realized that explaining why I sew to someone who doesn’t sew, is a bit like a marathon runner trying to explain runner’s high to a person who doesn’t like to run.

So I simply said, “Yes, I am.  I really enjoy it.”  And I think that was the most thorough answer that I could give.

If you’re interested in seeing more about any of the projects that I’ve shared here, you can find them all on the iSew page at Our Family Four.  Please say hello and thanks for letting me share with you!

Erin from Our Family Four for KCW
spring

kcw trends: patterns

There were so many incredible projects in the Kids Clothes Week project pool this year!!  It appears that everyone was eager to dive into their spring sewing, regardless of what the spring weather looked like for each of us.  Here are a few patterns that kept making the rounds this season.

The Geranium.  So classic, so many options, just do it.  Everyone else is and they won’t even mind if you’re late to the party.

Ribbet-collagegeranium.jpg

(clockwise) graypiped, cars, navy,

The Skater.  It’s a comfy, awesome, staple.  Easy, fun, and you can peplum that baby out if you’d like even more options.

Ribbet-collageskater

Blue, Feather, Pink

Small Fry Skinny Jeans.  It appears that several of us came off of that SFSJ pattern tour inspired to try this pattern out for ourselves, and it showed in the project pool.

Ribbet-collageskinny.jpg

Here, star, teal

It wouldn’t be a kids spring sewing session without a few jackets, and the options that were linked up are all drool worthy.

Ribbet-collagejacket.jpg

StarboardStudy Hall JacketSecret Agent TrenchJacki Dress

The Sally Dress.  Spring is here and your little lady needs some huge pockets to stash flowers, rocks, candy, toys, and other outdoor treasures.  There is no dress that can hold so much loot and look so cute at the same time.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

Red, Navy, Pink

Shorts.  True, summer is just around the corner, but for some of us, the spring weather has been calling for shorts.  Luckily there are shorts options like crazy in the project pool.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

Kid ShortsPrefontaine ShortsBubble Pocket ShortsCoastal Cargos

There were collections of patterns from several lovely designers, like See Kate Sew‘s items below.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

Aztec Hooded VestPippaRecess Raglan

The Flashback Skinny Tee.  Again, another pattern with options for customization as far as the eye can see.  Make it cool for your little dude, girly for your little lady, or something in between.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Triangle, Scalloped SequinsBlue FloralNinja Turtle,

Another love I have for the project pool is clicking around at designs that are new and fresh.  We’ll just go ahead and call them future front runners.  This was the first season I had seen any of these patterns and I love them all.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Paris skirt, Shearwater Caftan, Owl Princess TopGirls Style Book Dress

You just can’t beat when a beautiful bundle has just been released the week before KCW?  Am I right Perfect Pattern Parcel?  It appears that many of us were sewing our way through these a few weeks back, and though the bundle has expired, as all good things do, each of the patterns are still available from their individual designer.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Celestial Tee, Hanami Dress, Hosh PantsSeptember Tunic

 Speaking of designers, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to do some pattern testing for new patterns during KCW, as several of us did with the darling Matinee Dress.

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) AhoyBlue, Gray, Yellow

Some of us were sewing the scrumptious new Shandiin Top and Tunic (available soon from Lou Bee Clothing).

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Summer, Yellow, Gingham, Floral

Others were busy pattern testing for Willow & Co‘s new line.  This full line, plus others, is now available for the rest of us as well! 🙂

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Aster CardiganPersimmon Sundress, Kudzu CargosClover Shorts

My other weakness during KCW is discovering gorgeous gems of clothing that have been self drafted by the sewer!!  Ahh, I have such envy for ladies who can think something up, sketch it (maybe?), and then sew up a beautiful masterpiece.  So much inspiration!

kcw pattern trends: april 2014

(clockwise) Easter DressMatilde Dress, Denim Skirt, Color Block Cardi, Linen Cargos

What about you, what patterns stood out to you this season?  Did you jump over and purchase any new ones after seeing a beautiful example in the project pool?  I did!!

But the real question is, which patterns have you been sewing since KCW ended and you got the feeling back into your fingers?  Or are you holding out for summer KCW?

Erin from Our Family Four for KCW
spring

PATTERNS: what makes me commit

Why would I pay for a pattern, even an adorable one, if there are so many free patterns and tutorials available online?

This is what I used to think, before I started sewing clothes.  What I know now that I didn’t know then is, those pattern-makers have done so much of the hard work to make it easier on me!  They’ve translated a concept into a reality, and can lead me to that beautiful reality with lots of hand holding: colored photos with little arrows, glossaries of terms, and pattern pieces that will go from being a random jigsaw to a beautiful final piece.  Thanks pattern designers!  You guys rock.

BUT…how do you choose between them?

One incredible thing about being involved in the online sewing community is seeing fresh new patterns popping up regularly from designers that I already know and trust because so many of them are fellow bloggers!  But choosing between the many different designs and deciding where to invest my money and time can be overwhelming.  There are just so many options, how do you choose between them?

Over the past year I have come to recognize the 6 biggest factors that will make me put a pattern right into my cart AND checkout, now.  :)Do you have any patterns that fall into these categories? 

1.) The “Seemingly Endless Possibilities” Pattern

 The first pattern that I ever bought was the Geranium Dress.  I had seen a few of my favorite bloggers making their versions of this dress and I could not deny that it was adorable, but I was trying to resist.  But what tipped me over the edge was when I saw Delia’s 5 Geraniums post.  There was just such a fun range that I couldn’t believe it was all from the same pattern.  I wanted my daughter to have a wardrobe of cute dresses and tunics like that!

I bought the pattern and made 4 Geraniums for my daughter: 2 dresses, 2 tunics, 2 gathered skirts, 2 pleated skirts, a sleeveless, a ruffled sleeve, a cap sleeve and a puff sleeve with Peter Pan collar detail.  I made 2 dresses for baby gifts.  I also have a different option plotted for this year’s spring KCW Geranium.  I can’t get enough.

Geraniums

Popsicle Geranium, Flutter Geranium, Floral Geranium, Peter Pan Geranium

Friends, I was hooked.  The part of me that wanted maximum bang for my buck was just so happy:) A few other “Seemingly  Endless Possibilities” Patterns.  (I dare you to click through and see all that you can do with these patterns!)

Options

Tinny, Natty Janes, Roller Skate Dress 

2.) The “Give You Some Control Over Your Kid’s Unusual Shape” Pattern

If you stand for 10 minutes in a children’s department, you will hear this conversation.  Maybe you are the one saying it.

It’s just so hard to find jeans/shorts/pants that fit.  He has such a little waist and these long legs!  She’s thick around the middle but then the legs of the pants are too wide!

For me it was one day when I was out shopping for my petite 2 year old daughter and couldn’t find a pair of shorts to fit her tiny little booty. The 2 year fell off, the 18-24 months still slipped down, the 12-18 months were baggy and the 9-12 months were too.  The mom guilt was too much for me to handle (it must be my fault that she’s so tiny!) so I left the store with nothing but a lump in my throat.  I came home, purchased and printed the Bubble Pocket Shorts, and sewed them completely while she napped.

When she got up she was no longer my little peanut swimming in too-big shorts, but just my sweet little girl in some sweet shorts.  As she should be.

Shorts 5

  Bubble Pocket Shorts

Bottoms can be tough to fit.  Buying a pattern that helps you take control of the waistband, leg width, and inseam can make such a difference!

 A few other “Give You Some Control” patterns.

Pants

Clean Slate Pants, Skinny Jeans, Kid Shorts

3.) The “This is a Staple” Pattern

The Roly Poly Pinafore sold me immediately.  I saw only a few stops on the tour before I was convinced that this was an essential summer staple, yet could easily be layered in the fall and winter, and the 2-dresses-in-1 tapped right into the part of me that is looking for a deal. Sold.

Roly poly pinafore

Summer/Cloud Roly Poly, Retro Reversible Roly Poly

Our kids need easy to wear, easy to mix items in their wardrobes.  If you find a good pattern in a size range that will carry you through a few years with your child, then you’re golden.

 Other “This is a Staple” patterns.

Staples

Greenpoint Cardigan, Berkshire Blazer, Fancy Pants Leggings

 

4.) The “You’ll Learn a Lot” Pattern

One thing that I kept hearing (reading?) about Oliver + S patterns was the phrase “you’ll learn a lot.”  I bought my first Oliver + S dress during their summer sale and sewed it up during fall KCW.  Guess what?  I learned a lot.  No, seriously.  The instructions are very clear and great lengths are taken to make sure that things are just right.  I love all of the dresses that I’ve made for my daughter, but I think that her Family Reunion Dress looks like it should be on a display.  It’s just SO professional looking.  It was not a quick sew, but a fulfilling sew, worth the effort, and I added several tricks to my sewing arsenol.

Minty Family Reunion Dress 4

Minty Dress 

Other “You’ll Learn a Lot” Patterns.

O+S

Book Report DressSunday Brunch Jacket, Jump Rope Dress

5.) The “Unisex Love” Pattern

Pattern tours are just such a good idea because seeing so many different takes on a single pattern can give you 150 ideas for pieces that can go directly into your kid’s closet.

But when they give you 150 ideas for both genders?!  That’s a whole new story.  My first experience was with the Recess Raglan.  I’m still experiencing this one.  Such a great pattern, can’t stop sewing it up for both of my children.

Recess Raglan

Red Poppy, Floral, and Boy Blue Raglans, Minty Mod

I did the same with the Bimaa.

Bimaa

Floral & Stripe, Hooded Lightening Bolt, Upcycled Cowl

One pattern for two kids?  Again, you cannot beat the “maximum bang for your buck” factor.

Other “unisex love” patterns.

Unisex

Bimaa Sweater, Harem Pants, Banyan Tee,

 

6.) The “Just Get It Already” Pattern

When I first saw the Knight Hoodie pattern I gasped because it was just so amazing.  Then I tried to talk myself out of it. “Erin, your son has tons of hoodies already, there are no inexpensive places nearby to get sweatshirt fleece, you will not make him multiple varieties of this pattern…”  But even I knew that logic wasn’t going to work.  (How is it that this was going in one ear and out the other when it was all in my head?  Hmmm…)

I have a  5 year old boy.  He will think this is awesome.  We live in London for crying out loud.  Every church nearby looks like a castle, and there are actual castles, so the photo possibilities are endless.  And I really want to make this.

Knight+hoodie

Sometimes there is no reasoning with yourself as to why you shouldn’t get a pattern.  You need to just get it already.  Am I right?

Other “Just Get It Already” patterns.

Just buy it

Ballet Sweater, Marina RomperSwing Coat

Tell me, are any of these your main criteria for purchasing a pattern?  What are the things that you just cannot say no to, and must buy and sew immediately?  I’d love to hear!!