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spring

spring

sewing for easter: boys’ edition

There are less than 2 weeks until Easter, which makes for the perfect excuse to do some fancy sewing. As a mom of 4 girls and 1 boy, my Easter sewing usually revolves around my girls; however, this time I decided to direct more attention on my son. He is 8 and really loves wearing a suit to church every week.

About 6 months ago, right before his 8th birthday, I attempted to sew him a suit for the first time. I spent a long time looking for a pattern and was unable to come up with many options. I decided on the Basic Blazer and the Clean Slate Pants, both by Blank Slate Patterns.

I was really happy with the results! I admit, I was dreading this project, but once I got started I didn’t want to stop. Additionally, I decided to make his tie by using the Everyday Necktie pattern by Made Everyday. I had used this pattern before for men and loved it, so I knew it would go great with the suit!

He wore the suit every week for about 6 months straight; however, just like with every growing boy, the suit began to get a little small. Plus, he really wanted a jacket that looked a little more like his dad’s. 🙂 Specifically, he liked the back vent feature and he wanted it to fit better when it was buttoned.

The pattern search started once again. I really could not find a lot of options other than the Burda Boys Suit Jacket pattern. This suit jacket looked exactly like what he wanted. It had a back vent and the shaping was better. The only problem was that it was a Burda pattern, which made me terrified! Not only did I have to add my own seam allowances, but all of the reviews stated the instructions were not very good. I decided to take a risk and give it a shot anyway…I mean, how bad could it be? 🙂

According to the measurement chart he should have been a size 7, but unfortunately the jacket pattern only included sizes 8 – 12. Therefore, I decided an 8 would work and it turned out to be the perfect amount of ease (sizing runs small).

As I mentioned, this is my first experience with a Burda pattern. I did need to add my own seam allowance (“SA”), which fortunately ended up being rather easy. I decided to use a 3/8″ SA, although I believe 5/8″ SA is what the pattern recommends. However, a tip to easily add 3/8″ SA is to tape 2 pencils together, creating a 3/8″ space between the 2 points (see picture below). You will want to measure this for yourself, but this method has worked for me in the past. First, I traced the pattern on my paper and then went around each pattern piece to add the SA.

I did sew up a quick muslin before actually cutting into my real fabric. I was impressed with how well the pieces came together. The only adjustment I made from the muslin was to add 1 inch of length onto the bottom.

I used a classic suiting fabric and lining from JoAnn Fabrics. I also used a woven interfacing as the pattern directed. When I made the first suit, I had a difficult time finding information about what pattern pieces to interface, so I snapped a quick picture of the pieces after I interfaced them, as shown below.

I interfaced the 2 front pieces, the facings, and both collar pieces. I also interfaced the back pieces in 3 spots: the neckline, the arm seam, and the back vent.

The pattern only came with a couple of paragraphs explaining the construction, and they really were not very helpful at all. For the most part, I followed the instructions for the Blank Slate Pattern’s Basic Blazer and just made it work. I also used the welt pocket pattern pieces from the Basic Blazer.

In addition to the 2 welt pockets on the front of the suit jacket, I made a secret pock on the inside (which is his favorite part).

And let’s not forget about the back vent that he wanted so badly!

As for the pants, I used the Clean Slate Pants Pattern by Blank Slate Patterns. The pants came together very smoothly, and I even did the zip fly option, which always makes me feel like a rock star!

For the tie, I used my tried and true necktie pattern, the Everyday Tie Pattern.

So, all in all, I absolutely love the final result! It was not the easiest project, but was incredibly gratifying. I will definitely use both patterns again, especially the suit jacket. However, before I make another attempt, I would like to take the online “Learn to Sew a Classic Blazer” class by Closet Case Patterns. I think I might have a slight suit sewing obsession now. 🙂 I mean, he looks pretty dapper, right?

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spring, summer

tween swimsuits

I don’t know about you, but I am so excited that summer is coming back around! I love our days of the sprinklers being on and our trips to the lakes. Since water is such a big part of our summer days, I like to make sure my kids have a good variety of swimsuits. It may also be because laundry is at the bottom of my list in the summer…

So that brings us to today’s topic! Tween Swimsuits!

My oldest daughter is 12 and 5’6″ tall. I’ve always had to blend sizes for her, but she’s now entering that little space between kid sizing and adult sizing with her measurements. Luckily, I found that there are quite a few pattern companies that cater to this small 14/16 size that have a good variety of patterns available:

 Jalie

Boo Designs

Ellie and Mac

Mountain Ash Designs

Striped Swallow Designs

CKC Patterns

I started off going on Pinterest with my daughter to get some inspiration. She is all about the flounces this year so I knew the Boo Designs Flounce Dress would be absolutely perfect for her first swimsuit! She chose this popcorn swim and the red and white striped swim, because it’s amazing.

It was crazy easy to hack and I only had to use the bodice and flounce piece to make the top. I made the 12 width with 14 length for the bodice, and a size 8 inner circle with a size 12 outer for the flounce, since my daughters shoulders are more slender. I also added a 1/2″ elastic band around the bottom of the top, just to make sure it stayed nice and snug on her. I paired the top with the Tweenie Bikini Bottoms  that are a straight size 12.

I always line our swimsuits, but just as a tip, at this age, make sure to line your whole suit!

The second suit she really liked was the Ellie & Mac Cape Cod Swimsuit. I made a straight size 12 and added 3″ in the middle of the front and back. When making a one piece, the trunk length is sooooo important and when adding length, make sure you cut the pattern at the waist, then re-draw that line to blend the top with the bottoms. This girl had free reign to most of my swim (some prints are for me!) and for this suit she chose the popsicles. I’m glad that even though this girl is growing up, she still has fun with the fabric prints!

For the last suit I made, we ended on the Sofiliantjes Solis Dress & Tunic, which has been a summer staple. This girl is much more of a Tomboy, so I was a bit surprised that the flounce top was her number one choice, but I knew she’d want a fun sporty suit as well.

To do this I measured my daughters shoulder to underbust then cut the bodice right under the bust and then added a 2″ band just slightly smaller width so it would be more snug. It worked out really well! We paired this top with the Tweenie Bikini Bottoms too. I love the coverage it gives!


She had demanded the scales and decided to go with a nod to the Little Mermaid with the purple top. She’s still wanting a Jalie Valeria zip rashguard in the scales too!

What are your biggest issues when it comes to tween sewing? Style? Finding fabrics? Finding patterns in the sizing? Learning how to blend and adjust for a tween? Let me know in the comments!

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kcw: mistakes
spring

mistakes: miranda from inspinration

I hope you had a very productive KCW, I know I had. I really tried to challenge myself (in a normal week I already spend a lot of time sewing) and actually sewed seven garments (the cutting and planning was done before the week started so I really just sewed). Overall, the sewing went surprisingly smooth but I did of course make mistakes. Let’s do a quick summary of a few of them. I didn’t pay attention to detail and put the ears of the giraffe too high. During the sewing process I turned and returned the reversible top inside-out unnecessary for 4 times because I thought I already sewed to the end. With the snake shirt I missed a layer while using my serger leaving a small hole.  I managed to draw a line on the right of the fabric for the panda dress, which remained visible after construction (although I hid it for the photos).

mistakes11. Giraffe dress 2. Reversible sling top 3. Snake shirt 4. Panda dress

One of the reasons why I like blogging is that I can tell the story behind the clothes I make, there is usually more than “I picked the pattern, I made it”. If you read my blog you have noticed that I regularly discuss mistakes I made. I do this because on one hand laughing is healthy and self humor is great (I love reading about other people’s sewing mistakes). Writing my mistakes down is part of my coping process. On the other hand somebody might learn from the way I solved my mistakes, because I usually do manage to create a good workaround. I think I have never actually thrown out a garment because of a mistake. Mistakes create a challenge, a problem that has to solved, and I love solving problems. Often creativity is born from mistakes.

One source of my  sewing mistakes is a lack of concentration. Without enough focus  I start sewing wrong pieces together, or (partly) miss sewing a layer. In my case a lack of concentration is usually due to rushing or fatigue. Knowing your pitfalls is the first step to recovery.  I now avoid sewing past my bedtime, my sewing stops at 23:00 the latest.  Sometimes I find myself making mistakes earlier in the evening and also then it is best to stop the project for the night. Pushing on only makes things worse. Another source of rushing behavior is sewing against a deadline I created myself.  I now also avoid giving an estimation of the how much time my sewing will still take. I noticed that if I told my husband I would be finished in 20 minutes, Murphy’s law kicked in and my seam ripper had to appear.

mistakes21. Too much of a good thing 2. Forest trousers 3. Dino shirt 4. Sewing on skirts

Although I  make mistakes during the actual sewing, my typical mistakes involve copying and cutting pattern pieces. I try to cut both my fabric and pattern paper as economically as possible which sometimes leads to non-economical situations. I will tell you about a few of those situations. I love working with knits and those patterns often have the same front and back pattern except for the neckline. You can easily draw the different neckline, so I usually only copy one of the bodice/dress pattern pieces (saving both time and pattern paper). In the past I copied only the front piece of a dress, this led more than once to the problem of accidentally cutting the front twice because I forgot to draw the higher back neckline.  The first dress in the collage shows an extra seam below the collar that should have hidden the seam but that was another mistake (sometimes they pile on). I have removed this source of mistakes by only cutting back pieces.

The dino shirt from the collage, that I also sewed during KCW,  is another good example of economical behavior gone horribly bad. When I started copying the hood onto my pattern paper I was too close to the side of the paper, moved the paper and redrew  at approximately the same spot because I didn’t want to throw away the piece of paper.  When I cut the paper piece I accidentally cut the wrong line. I noticed that the hood pattern looked a bit off but I assumed this was part of the pattern. When I sewed the hood to the neck I realized it would never ever fit. Then I checked the original pattern and saw my mistake… The solution I came up with was putting in a contrasting piece in the hood. I could have cut a new hood of course but then I had to throw away the wrong cut pieces and that I just couldn’t make myself to do that. To avoid this mistake all together in the future I should redraw with another color.

Another big frustrating mistake is cutting the same pattern piece without mirroring it. This is especially a problem in case of scarce fabric. When I upcycled one of my own trousers, I cut the left back leg twice and I than I was out of fabric. I solved it by covering the wrongly cut leg with a layer of knit. My son loved the trousers and was sad that only one leg was that happy. While cutting that pair of trousers I also managed to cut the same pocket three times, not managing to fix my mistake the second time neither.

Not paying attention to the small details of the explanation, thinking I do not need it, is another source of my mistakes. I once made four onesies at the same time. I had made a smaller size so I knew the fit was great. When all four were almost finished I realized I had used two alternative front pieces instead of a back and front piece. I now had four bad onesies, try to imagine my frustration about fabric and time waisted. The biggest problem was that the onesie was too short (I decided to ignore the relatively low back neckline), so I used the body parts to make dresses. One of them is the fourth picture in the collage. A similar issue is me being too lazy to go back to the original pattern to determine the exact position of buttons, thinking I can eye-ball them, wrong! Always go back and safe yourself the frustration afterwards.

In the introduction I told you that I drew on the right side of the fabric of the panda dress, this is a regular mistake for me.  I always use a child washable marker  (a huge cost saver compared to washable water-soluble markers) to draw my pattern on the fabric. Sometimes, when I am drawing a symmetrical piece I draw on the front, these are the moments I draw something wrong for sure. This is mostly a problem because I prefer make pictures before the first wash, the lines wash out, so not big mistakes, but it is still very frustrating, because these mistakes just shouldn’t happen at all.

The worst mistake I ever made, I only did once. While sewing a dress, my fabric folded and I made a big cut in the middle of the skirt with my serger. I actually cried, I did manage to salvage the dress, I ironed a strong stabilizer on the inside, but from up close the hole remains visible.

So here  they are, some of my mistakes, I hope you enjoyed reading about them. My general advise in dealing with mistakes is take some time. I usually get the best ideas in bed. I know that I have to take some distance. An idea to solve it will come, but it takes a bit of time.  Hand sewing is a great solution to many small mistakes, in the beginning I tried to tackle a small hole with my sewing machine or serger, but this is often not the right way to go. Just sit down on the couch, breath, fix it, and enjoy your creative solution.