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Jenn from A Jennuine Life on KCW

PATTERNS: how to make sure it will fit

So, you’ve got your patterns ready to go, fabrics gathered and you’ve measured your kid to see which size to make.  One more step in your process could be: to make a muslin or not?

Muslin or Not


A muslin is a test garment made from inexpensive fabric.  Often it’s made only for the critical pieces of the pattern, like the bodice.  Seams are sewn with basting stitches to allow for quick revisions.  A muslin doesn’t necessarily need to be from plain unbleached cotton.  The term “wearable muslin” means using fabric that isn’t as dear to your heart but will still result in an outfit that can be worn for everyday if the fit is good and the seams are re-sewn with regular stitch length.

A purist might say you should always make a muslin, but I’m a realist — who has time (or frankly, the desire?) to make a muslin for every new project?  I thought I’d share some deciding factors for whether or not to make a muslin:

Is this the first time you’re making the pattern?  Pretty straightforward, right?  If you’ve already made the pattern once (recently) then there’s no need to take a trial run.

Is your fabric precious?  If you’re using something you can pick up at your local fabric store or you’ve got yardage in your stash, then go ahead and cut into it.  If you’re talking about something like Liberty of London, vintage fabric, or you’re refashioning your Mom’s wedding dress then you probably don’t need me to tell you that a muslin might be in order!

Is the pattern fitted or flowing?  Loose-fitting garments are more forgiving for fit, so you can probably skip the muslin for a peasant dress or swing top.  Something like a structured jacket or a button-down shirt you might want to do a quick muslin for at least the major pieces.

Is your child between measurements?  If your child is in between one of the critical measurements, it’s probably worthwhile to make a test version to see if you want to make the smaller or larger size, or if you want to blend the two sizes.  Even if you’re not comfortable modifying patterns, using the width from one size and the length from another isn’t too difficult if you make sure you’re consistent about applying the different dimension.

Are you sewing a pattern from a new-to-you designer?   When you’ve sewn a couple patterns from a given designer, you begin to understand how the resulting garments will fit your child.  They’re most likely using the same pattern block, or base dimensions, to build their pattern so a 3T in one of their patterns will fit relatively similar to the next 3T.  A new designer is probably not using the same block so you might need to check the fit on your child.

Did you draft the pattern yourself or are you heavily modifying another designer’s?  Freshly-drafted patterns probably require a muslin (or two or three) and the same goes for making major adjustments to a purchased pattern.

So, will making a muslin be part of your preparations for this Kid’s Clothes Week… or Not?




Jenn from A Jennuine Life on KCW

KCW plans: Jenn

One of the benefits of contributing for Kids Clothes Weeks is that it’s forcing me to plan for the week.  I’ve taken a much more relaxed approach in the past.  I typically have a few things in mind or an event like Halloween which coincides with the challenge week, but actually pondering what items to make and deciding the fabrics ahead of time is a whole new thing.

I began by evaluating the wardrobe needs of my daughters.  Being practical, I tend to sew more for Arden than for Hadley since everything will eventually be handed down to Hadley.  Also, Arden is about to move sizes from 4T to 5Y and Hadley has more recently moved into 3T.  So my big girl needs pretty much all spring wardrobe staples.

Then I mashed that mental list up with pattern I either already own or have been considering making, and I dug through my fabric stash or start searching online for great fabrics.

Here’s the result – I give you my plans for Kids Clothes Week 2014:

KCW Plans Collage

I love the easy silhouette with special pintuck details of the Pintuck Dress by Heidi & Finn.  Plus, I just happen to have a cotton rayon in a similar color to the one shown in the pattern if I can squeak it out of what I have remaining.  I’ll find a solid linen blend if I can’t make it with my remnant.  KCW coincides with the “Design Your Own Fabric” week on Project Run & Play, so I think I’ll try to modify the fabric somehow – maybe give Sashiko a try?  We’ll see…

I’ve had a longtime love affair with rompers so the Marina Romper by Cali Faye makes by heart go pitter pat.  I’ll pair it with this drapey rayon challis with black & pink hearts I had purchased a while ago.  I’m making myself a tunic out of this same fabric this week as a pattern test, so that will be a nod to the mini me theme without being matchy-matchy.  I’m thinking I might shirr the ankles because I had a store bought romper for Arden as a baby that had that and it was so cute!

For shorts, I’ve thought the Bubble Pocket Shorts by Elegance & Elephants were simply adorable since they were first released.  Either one of my girls will be filling those giant pockets in no time!  I have some lovely Robert Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen in black that will be perfection.

Lastly, I’ve been working on my own PDF pattern for my Matinée Dress which I’ll release under my shop name Jennuine Design.  Soon I’ll be needing to pretest some of the sizes before sending it out to pattern testers for the (nail-biting!) real deal.  I found this awesome nautical panel from Michael Miller called Ahoy Matey that I think will be darling if I can get the sash and the skirt to land in good spots on the fabric.

I think four pieces is fairly reasonable to hope to accomplish over seven days.  I’ll do my best to have patterns prepped and pieces cut, so maybe I’ll even exceed my expectations and plans!


Jenn from A Jennuine Life on KCW

spring inspiration: patterns

I’m so excited for you to meet this season’s contributors. We’ve got an extra awesome bunch this time. They are bursting with creative energy! They are going to get you so excited for KCW you won’t be able to sit on the couch–you’re going to have to get up and sew! Our first contributor is Jen from A Jennuine Life. She is an amazing and prolific artist, with two darling daughters to sew for. And she’s got some super good pattern ideas for you today: 

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Greetings!  I’m Jenn from A Jennuine Life and I am so excited to get to share with all of you throughout this season of Kids Clothes Week!

Since a theme of Mini Me has been introduced this go-round, I thought it would be fun to try to find women’s patterns and corresponding children’s patterns to help you realize your Mom and child fashion statement.  I already have at least one of these women’s patterns, or store-bought items which will work in their place.

LouBee Patterns Bimaa Sweater and Sewaholic Renfrew

First up is one of my personal favorites having recently made two of these for my daughters- the Bimaa Sweater from LouBee Clothing.  This pattern is so versatile with cowl, shawl collar, or hoodie options and it works for both boys and girls.  A great Mom coordinate to the Bimaa is the Renfrew Top from Sewaholic Patterns.  Maybe make these in elbow length to “spring” them up a bit as a transitional garment.  Look how both patterns had animal prints in their listings – what a koinky-dink!

Mini Me Dolman Shirts


Then there’s a easy breezy dolman tee.  Abby at Sew Much Ado has been kind enough to provide both girls’ and adult patterns with the same silhouette in the Skipper Top for mini, and the Seafarer Top for me (or all of you)!  The Skipper Top is billed as a girls’ shirt, but I don’t know why it couldn’t work for boys just as easily.

Mini Me Cardigans


Spring where I live in Michigan still requires layering until oh… about June, so a great cardigan comes in really handy.  The kid’s Slouchy Cardigan from Heidi & Finn finds a great companion sized for Mom in the Julia Cardigan from Mouse House Creations.

Mini Me Dresses


I have two little girls, so I have to include a great dress pattern.  Having already made myself a Washi Dress from Made by Rae, it seems a logical choice to include the similar Geranium Dress, also from Made by Rae.

Mini Me Jeans Collage


We can’t forget the bottom half, so I included the Small Fry Skinny Jeans from Titchy Threads.  This is another versatile pattern with options for a half fly or a zip fly, two different pocket options, shorts or jean length and two waistband options.  I’ve heard great things about the Jamie Jeans from Named, and they look like they have a flattering line.

Mini Me Coats


And lastly, I thought a nice coat pattern that would work well for spring and I knew it had to be the Downton Duffle Coat from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop to go along with the Albion from Colette Patterns for Mom (or Dad!).  Maybe make this out of a bright twill or even water-resistant fabric to make it a great light raincoat.

So there’s my pattern inspiration for your mini and for yourself!  Time to start making plans!