Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pajama Pants

Shortly before Christmas, I made all three kids some new pajamas. Then I made them each a set as a Christmas gift and my mom gave them each new pajamas, too! Pajama overload perhaps, but it was really a good thing. Even The Preacher got new pajamas. The ability of good pajamas to bring comfort and joy is not to be underestimated. My pajama drawer and I were feeling left out.

Finally last week I was able to remedy that. I do not enjoy the bunching up around the legs that happens with traditional pajama pants. I had been wearing leggings and tunics as pajamas for awhile and that worked well. Last fall I made a pair of sweatpants (track pants? lounge pants? I don't know exactly what they are...) using Ottobre 5/2011 #5 and I really liked them.


Combined with the plentiful race T-shirts I have, they would be great as pajamas - comfy, stretchy, and tapered at the ankle so they don't bunch up.


I bought two pieces of cotton interlock from JoAnn's and made them assembly-line style. Most of the sewing was done on my serger (Babylock Evolution - loooove that thing) using the three-thread coverstitch and two-thread flatlock. I prefer the contrast of the gray on the navy to the blending on the gray pair.


The hem has a slit in the inseam. I sewed the inseam on my sewing machine to make finishing the slit easier. I like this touch - it allows for extra length comfortably.


This pattern fit me exactly how I'd like it to without any tweaking. Even the length was perfect! I left off the drawstring and I put the elastic all the way around the waist, as opposed to just 3/4, which leaves the front smooth. If these were going to be out-and-about pants (and they certainly could - they are very similar to the Hudson pants and the Anima pants. Very current and stylish, but not the look for me right now) I would include those features, but they're pajama pants so we're keeping it simple.

I'm so happy with these. They meet a real need and the fact that I really like them is a wonderful bonus. The weather here is still so cold and bleak (but hope is on the horizon!) - a little comfort and joy from pajamas is totally welcome.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Back At It

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here and I'm finding that I miss it. This past year has been full of changes and transitions for our family and this blog couldn't be a priority. We're settling into a new community and I've returned to work part-time. Time has felt tight over the last several months, but I have been sewing when I can and continue to enjoy a dedicated sewing space in our new home. Sewing and blogging come from the same pool of "free" time. When made to choose between sewing and writing about sewing, I will always choose sewing.

I appreciate having this blog as a record of what I've made, just to help me remember some of the actual articles I've made and also as keeper of notes, links, and details that are helpful for current and future projects. I also just miss the writing. My day-to-day life doesn't require a lot of writing, but it's a skill I value and think it needs to be treated like a muscle: use it or lose it.

So, this is me recommitting to this blog (feels like I've been here before, but whatever. Let's just go with it. Ebb and flow, man…)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That: Coming Up With a Fall Dress

My older daughter is 10 years old now. That puts her in the "tween" age category. When trying to come up with sewing plans for her, I felt a bit stumped. This is new territory. Combining her preferences, my "guidelines" (leggings are not pants!), and this new age category in a successful way is a challenge. We talked through some options together and looked at fabrics together and we have a bit of a plan. This dress was the first part of the plan.


We had an idea of what the dress should look like and then combined a couple different Ottobre patterns to get what we wanted. There was a fair bit of basting and fitting as we went and in the end, we both think it was successful.


She picked out the fabric - a purple pique knit. It's pretty stretchy with very good recovery, so it wasn't too difficult to handle. The black trim is a cotton/lycra jersey. I added the keyhole at the front neckline for interest. The binding was done on my sewing machine with a double needle. First I zigzagged the binding to the neckline, then turned it to the back and topstitched with the double needle. I trimmed off the extra on the inside close to the stitching line. The zigzagging and double needle stitching both allow plenty of stretch for getting this on without a zipper or button closure.


My initial plan was to have this ruched waist piece sit on top of the dress and just be attached at the side seams. However, I made an error in tracing the skirt pattern and the front piece was two inches shorter than the back piece. I didn't want a short skirt on this dress, so I decided to insert the back piece to gain back some of the length. It worked well enough.


The bodice back piece is a bit too long and she gets some pooling above the inset piece. Not enough to make any changes on this dress, but it's something I might watch for in the future.


She would like for the skirt to be fuller. She's a big fan of the circle skirt. I'm not such a big fan of buying enough fabric for a circle skirt.

We're both happy with this dress and I think our first real foray into tween clothing was successful. The Oliver + S blog has been doing a series about tween style (specifically related to their patterns) and I've been enjoying following it and picking up some inspiration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ottobre 6/2012 #37 - Chambray shirt

Since moving back to the US, I've done some experimenting with ordering fabric online. I had only dabbled with it while living in Canada because of shipping costs, duty charges and the nuisance of return shipping. As expected, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Some purchases are better than expected and some are disappointing. The corduroy for these pants was the former and the chambray for this shirt was the latter. The chambray is nice fabric, it's just different than what I had envisioned. I went ahead with it anyway.


This shirt is for my son and is the partner piece for these pants. I like how the shirt looks with the sleeves rolled up. He will have none of that.


The pattern is just a classic collared button-down shirt from Ottobre (6/2012 #37). I like the two-piece collar, the lined yoke, and the properly scaled front pocket. Breast pockets that are "off" (to my eye, anyway) in size, scale, or placement really bug me.


I used a plaid shirting for contrast on the collar stand, under collar, inner yoke, button placket, inner cuffs and sleeve plackets. I've been doing this with most collared shirts I make lately and I like the small amount of interest it provides.


My plan was to do the topstitching with navy blue thread, but it looked terrible. After trying some other options (gray, tan, white) I chose an off-white. The buttonholes looked too bright with that shade, so I used a light beige thread for them.


I'm such a sucker for a bit of bias plaid.

My son is happy with both of these pieces for fall - how they look and how they feel. I started with these because they are more involved than most of the other things I have planned to make. I know that if I start with the easy things, I'll run out of time for the complex ones. I find it easier to squeeze in the easy ones later.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ottobre 4/2011 #38 - Rust Corduroy Pants

It happens every September. You'd think I would catch on. The air feels especially chilly on a Sunday morning and my kids still only have their summer clothes for church. Find some tights! Do you have a decent looking sweater? Put a shirt under that! And off we go, looking kind of patched together. Seriously, every year. That was last week Sunday. So, last week I was busy getting some dressier clothes together. I started with my son because I find his clothes takes longer to make. It's easier to squeeze in the faster dresses at the eleventh hour.

I always have success with Ottobre patterns for my son, so that's where I started. This is pattern #38 from issue 4/2011. They are called "Algebra corduroys." Ottobre pattern names are always interesting. I like the narrow legs, the curved yoke and the angled pockets on the front.


They are a bit rumpled from being folded up waiting for their shirt partner.


All of the topstitching is done in tan thread. I copied the rear pocket top-stitching from the pattern.


The waistband turned out to be a little too big, so I added some elastic to the back half. The inner waistband edge is bound with tan bias tape, matching the zipper and stitching. My kids don't like buttons on their pants. Snaps are still their preference, but we've been burned by snaps before. I have yet to find some that are both heavy duty enough for pants and work well consistently. I hate getting all the sewing work done and then ending up with a bum snap. Grrr.


So, for these pants we put in a hook and bar closure. He's had this on other pants and it works fine for him - both fast and secure. The button on the front is just decorative.


My son is the most tactile-aware of my kids. He loves soft, fuzzy clothes. He really likes these pants, even though he said he would prefer that the soft part be on the inside. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mega Gift Card Wallet

A few years ago I made these little wallets for the gift cards that I used regularly. The new school my kids attend participates in the same program, but it is much bigger here. That little wallet I had wasn't cutting it anymore. Some searching on Pinterest (it'll cure what ails you every time) led me to this tutorial for a pretty large gift card wallet. Mega even! I thought this might be more than I really needed, but I liked the concept of it.


I had been playing around with this braided-look patchwork and decided to incorporate it in this project. I backed the exterior wallet piece with upholstery fabric to give it some extra heft.


You can see some smudges on the back part. I've been using this for a couple of weeks already and can say that I'm really pleased with it. It is indeed more than I need, but I like having the space to keep everything sorted and also keep the loyalty/coupon cards with the gift cards.



And the last page with room for growth!

The tutorial includes instructions for a velcro tab closure. I used this elastic and a button that I had. Not sure that it's an improvement over velcro, but it's working well for me.

I know it takes a lot of time to create these tutorials and I've benefited from many of them. I'm thankful for people that are generous with their time and ideas!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Sewing

My kids start school tomorrow. The first day at a new school. They're all excited. It seems like I'm the only nervous one. The backpacks are packed, the lunches made, the clothes laid out. Everything's ready to go!

These two little items are the only back-to-school sewing I've done this year. My younger daughter and I worked on this pencil case together. She sat on my lap and did some of the steering while we were sewing the seams. The fabric choices are hers.


This is a boxy zippered pouch made with this pattern, A Little Duffle Do It. The pattern gives cutting dimensions for four sizes, but I needed one to fit a set of colored pencils and based the dimensions on that. So, this one is longer and thinner than any of the four given choices.


I quilted the outer fabric and lining together with fusible fleece in between. The pattern gives good instructions for cleanly finishing the inside seams using binding, but I was trying to be quick and just zigzagged them instead.


I like how wide it opens and the ribbon tabs on each end make it easy to open and close the zipper.


My son needed a set of ear buds to have at school. They didn't come with a case and I thought we could do better than a ziplock bag. I nabbed this Straight Stitch Society pattern when they were on sale recently and gave my son his choice of animals.


As with all the Liesl + Co patterns, this one is well designed and has great instructions. It is cleanly finished on the inside with only a couple inches of hand stitching to close it up.


It doesn't show up very well against the white background, but I love the little bone zipper pull. My son picked all the fabrics and buttons for the eyes. I wasn't sure I could get that little red one to work inside the orange one, but it was really important to him. And it does look pretty cool, doesn't it?


The finished size is about 4" in diameter and 1.25" in height. I wish the edges were a little crisper. There is a layer of batting between the outer fabric and lining. The batting was trimmed from all seam allowances, but maybe using a canvas or upholstery fabric would provide the heft without the bulk.

In the side view pic above, you can see the small stitches used to keep the ears folded over. It looks like a rabbit before that step. It sure turns out to be a cute little pup!

There will be some school clothes sewing coming up, but for now I'm happy to be sending my kids off to school with these fun little projects of their choosing.