Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ottobre Shirt & Pants

Pattern: Ottobre 3/2012 Happy Madras Shirt #19 & Papa Joe Pants #20

Shirt Fabric: Joel Dewberry "Modern Meadow" JD37 Honeycomb Pink quilting cotton; buttons taken from one of my husbands old shirts
Pants: Fabric: JoAnn Fabrics, poly-cotton linen-look blend

Fabric Price: ~$8.00; $6.40 zipper $0.50 

Belt: Re-purposed gift wrap ribbon from the Gap
Shoes:  Driving shoes, Gap

Size: 96 cm

Child's Age: 4 (slim and small)
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I made this outfit (that sounds girly.  Ensemble?) for my four-year-old's preschool graduation.  He participated in a state-funded, pilot online preschool program last year.  He got to go in to test and receive his diploma and treat bag.
I started making it, of course, three days before the event.  I finished the night before.  No surprise.  Well, a little surprise that I did actually finish.
In the past, I have felt that sewing boy's clothes is not as much worth one's while compared to girl's clothes.  Pants are pants.  Shirts are shirts.  No too exciting yet they have quite a bit of detail for what they are.  And, boy's clothing is a lot less expensive to buy.  I can buy flat front, brushed twill khakis at Old Navy for $10.00 when they are on sale. 
However, now that I have my Ottobre magazines, I wanted to give this a try.  I figured, as long as I wasn't spending any more than I would to buy them, and I could get a slightly better fit, it would be well-worth it.  Because this little guy is so slim, in order to get pants that are the right length, they are too big around the waist.  The hidden elastic adjusters are a big help, but I have to adjust them so much, they end up looking coarsely gathered at the waist.  They make him look emaciated.
Here are some of his best QG poses.  He tends to give an over-exuberant smile that sucks in his lips and shows all his gums.  So we were going for a more mature look.
His measurements are not as wild as Monkey Pants' but he is ridiculously slim compared to height and still not average height for his age.  Going by waist, he would be a size 92cm, by height, almost 110cm.  So of course, I picked the one in the middle for both shirt and pants.  I was scared to make the 92 pants and lengthen after the fail on the capri pants for Monkey Pants.  They came out great!  Now, they are still a bit big around the waist, thus the need for the last minute ribbon belt.  And, I did lengthen them to 110 but ended up rolling up the hem and blind hemming the excess anyway.  Since, they are a bit lose, they don't sit that high on the waist, and don't really need to be that long.  At first, I thought I wanted them to be a bit extra long and wrinkly at the bottom, then, I decided they looked better well-fitted for length.
The linen look-a-like fabric, I found at JoAnn.  I wasn't sure if it was even for apparel because it feels kind of stiff, yet a bit see-through on the bolt.  But I thought I'd give it a try.  I really do like it.  It doesn't wrinkle like linen and has a crisper drape.  I think it works well for warm weather pants.
The shirt, I will admit, had many non-believers.  Boys can wear pink, dammit!  Once again, I had to resort to quilting cotton for apparel fabric due to depressing choices at the local fabric store. Ok, before I put the collar in, even I was a tinsy bit worried, it looked like a medical scrub in the children's unit.  But, I new it had to look like a cool shirt once the collar and front buttons where on.  I didn't fold the sleeves up and omitted the the trim on on the bottom edges.
Very happy with result.  He loves his outfit.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Seamus trunks

Pattern: Ottobre 3/2009 Seamus Swim Trunks #40
Fabric:  Blue & white striped lycra with burnt orange trim plus white swim lining
Fabric Price: ~$6.00
Size: 92 cm
Child's Age: 2 1/2

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Here is #3, the youngest.  We'll call him "Chuck" or "Chucky" because he looks like a "Chuck" but of course that's not his name at all.  He has a very traditional and sophisticated name, that his slow-to-speak-for-his-age little self likes to pronounce with a very strong English accent. 

It was the Fourth of July and the first time wearing these I think.  I hadn't had a chance to take any pictures of the trunks for the purpose of the blog. Plus, he's a terrible model: makes awful scrunched up faces at the camera, is constantly moving, and usually runs off before long.  So, I figured I might as well attempt some photos here, at Abuelo's house playing in the inflatable pool.

This is the second item I've made from Ottobre.  The retro styling of these trunks makes for kind of an unusual construction.  There are three distinct pieces, four total.  The main piece is the top front, sides and back.  The ends are sewn up to make the center back.  There's a lower, center front piece that goes in the inside of the piping and two side panels also enclosed in the piping.

Inside waist showing lining
This is the side view before turning the bottom edge to hem.
I can't believe I managed to match the stripes for the most part.  Or, at all!
The swimsuit fabric selection at JoAnn and Hancock is pathetically dismal.  As I did not need for him to be seen from outer space, I decided to forgo their solid and blindly bright selections.  I came across this blue and white striped fabric at the quilting fabric store.  The burnt orange, I found later at Hancock, but it is not true swimsuit fabric, it is just a shiny, stretchy lycra.  Now, I wouldn't recommend stripes on a swimsuit where you have to match the stripes.  It was not my intention to challenge myself in this manner.  It was simply all there was to pick from.  But paired up with the contrasting orange, I really liked the even more retro-y effect of the stripes.  This swimsuit has an elastic at the waist but also calls for a drawstring.  I don't know where to find elastic grosgrain ribbon, and the mere thought of it gives me a headache, so I haven't put that in yet. Though, I did make the buttonhole opening for it.  I do think it would make it look cuter.

I lined it because the stripe fabric wasn't very thick.  It may not be true swimsuit material either for all I know.  And, because this style of swim trunk probably needs some lining.  I made it the smallest size.  I wasn't sure if it would suit my 4 y.o. or Chucky better.  My 4 y.o. (I forgot what name I made up for him) is pretty skinny.  Chuck is smaller but actually girth-ier.  The trunks fit the 4 y.o. but were a bit lose at the legs.  However, they were not very flattering in the front area without some kind of additional support.  On Chucky, since he still has to wear a swim diaper, they looked great.  The piping wasn't as hard to put on as I thought it might be.  I serged all the seams and used a double needle to topstitch the waistband and hem the legs.  Wow, I actually followed the instructions to a T.  I even installed the elastic (almost) like they said I should. 

What is happening to me?  It's like I'm being all professorial, matching stripes, lining stuff, finished edges ... with a serger, double needle topstitching, FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS!  I don't even recognize myself anymore.

Very cute trunks, good fit.  Chucky was very excited to be the recipient of something made especially for him this time.  I'm not sure how these would look on older boys though.  They probably need more lining.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Burda Twist Knot Dress

Pattern: Burda 3/2012 #108
Fabric:  Riley & Blake medium chevron stripe quilting cotton
Size: 38

Finally!  This was the sewing project that kicked off the summer sewing spree and I just finished it last night.  My goal was to make the first of a few casual summer dresses to break up the capri/t-shirt uniform.  I don't have anything against dresses, but I find that I don't really have any anymore unless it's one I had to buy for some special occasion. So, this whole dress thing was a bit out of my normal repertoire.  And really out of my normal repertoire are sleeveless dresses.  For some reason, I'm not fond of my arms and at some point decided, nothing good would come out of exposing their shoulders.  But I took a chance on this dress because I like it so much and now I might never wear sleeves again.

I've realized a few other interesting things about myself since I started sewing again.  For example, I tend to go into auto-pilot pretty quickly when sewing which is really rather ridiculous because that would lead you to believe that sewing is so easy for me, it comes second nature.  Unfortunately, my auto-pilot is a terrible driver.
Although this was a relatively easy dress to make (they always are post-construction), my auto-pilot had a bit of a hard time with the instructions.  Also, many other factors converged to make this dress a not-good-example-of-how-garments-should-be-made.  (1) I couldn't find the fabric I was trying to copy from the Selfish Seamstress or anything remotely like it anywhere on the web or land.  So, I was forced to buy quilting cotton with this lovely gray chevron stripe.  I decided I liked the graphic look of this even better.  Then, I realized the chevron was really more of an old school zig-zag as the pattern runs vertically down the grain of the fabric : (  (2) Hence, I had to buy more fabric.  The fabric was out at the local quilting fabric store.  I had to order it.  It was back ordered. ..... (3) I was forced to cut the pattern perpendicular to the grain line.  I think that's akin to walking under a ladder.  I'm not sure exactly what kind of badness will happen but I know you should never do it. (4) I washed and pressed the first piece of fabric but not the second. ??  I can't think of an excuse for this. (5) I was very fearful the dress wouldn't be long enough as I was limited to 44" across the fabric to cut the whole length of the dress.  The math involved with this issue was too much for my auto-pilot to handle so I just went for it.  (6) Because the pattern has both a facing and lining for the bodice and maybe because I was trying to right some of the wrongs I'd already committed, I decided to line the skirt portion of the dress too.  I also didn't want my underwear to show and I don't own a slip. (7)  I don't know how to line things, really, so I winged it.  I cut the front lining without the section that is twisted up.  Then I serged it together with the fabric on the side seams.  Then, I realized I wouldn't be able to hem them together nor separately.  I later (last night) fixed this by undoing the seam up the sides about 12", re-sewing the fabric sides by themselves, finishing the edges of the lining and letting them hang separated.  Then hemmed the fabric and lining separately.  I wasn't sure if it was going to work without making the dress look like something was pulling and tugging at it.  Much to my surprise, it seems to have worked.  However, I will never be able to wash this dress.  I'm pretty sure it will pucker up and get completely contorted.

Finally, I can wear my Aldo patent leather, platform shoes!
I wish I hadn't been bending my knee there.  Or maybe I'm not.  Apparently, I'm pretty bow-legged.  I had forgotten that.

It was getting hot.
Thought I'd try some bright colored shoes.  I also have some yellow ones that would be more casual and probably look good when I'm shopping at Walmart.

I don't know what this is, but I will tell you, the left profile of this dress is not so flattering.  The twist puffs up above the belly a bit.

I'm pretty happy with the dress, despite it's Frankensteinean construction.  I find it pretty flattering on me which is a thing that is hard to find.  It's probably one of the nicest things I've made for myself.  Although it's true, I haven't made anything for myself in a couple of decades.  The only problem I had wearing it today was that when I sit down, the front kind of opens up.  No not kind of, what am I talking about, it really opens up.  I'm not sure what to do about that.  Maybe, never sit down.  Or, possibly try to hand stitch the front together a bit?  I also like the luxurious feeling of wearing a dress that is lined.  Especially compared to my usual mom uniform, capri pants and a t-shirt.

When, I decided I had to make another trip to the store to get more lining material, I had a bit of a nervous realization that I might be getting kind of serious about this whole sewing thing.  Lining means serious sewing to me.  It means commitment.  It was kind of scary but I'm now over it.


In this section, I wish to make a formal statement of how much I dislike pictures of myself.  They automatically bring up all kinds of issues that I'm happy to not notice when I'm blindly looking in the mirror.  First, I'm immediately horrified to realize how short I am because I don't feel like a short person and most of the time have no real knowledge of this.  (Maybe I should get a full length mirror).  Then, I'm like, "Where did my waist go? Or, did I ever have one?"  Then, I'm like, "Where are my ankles? And why are the bottom part of my legs so short and stubby? etc. etc. And what happened to my face?!  Oh yeah.  I'm almost forty.  That's what happened.

Then comes the fact that I've never been photogenic in any lenient sense of the word, not even as a child.  Plus, I have no idea how to stand and look like a normal person.  Trust me, I tried several ways and none were much of an improvement over the others.  So I would like it to be known, that this was a sacrifice for the purpose of documenting sewing but I still squirm as I try to ignore the, what did my husband call them? --"cankles", which he assured me I did not have, but which I know I'm on my way to getting.  Luckily, my seven-year-old photographer was relatively patient as I'm sure she was feeling rather important to be allowed to handle my camera and take my picture for a change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's true.  They really can fly.

Is it lame to call this a Velma skirt preview? 

It was just a fun impromptu picture.

Monday, July 9, 2012

More fabric

Yes, it was swim class day today.  That means the children had to suffer through another stop at my *favorite store* JoAnn. 

I needed yet more invisible zippers.  I was armed with three 50% off coupons. 

Plans?  Maybe a blouse, a boy's buttoned up shirt, pants?  I think I need more Ottobre magazines.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stash building

One thing I don't enjoy about project making is going to the store to get that one missing item.  And then going again to get that other item.  And then again, because I got the wrong item.  I just want to pick up and get sewing whenever the mood and opportunity for free time strikes.

I have to drive to the "city" twice a week for swim class for the kids, so I've been taking advantage of that to stop by the fabric store and pick up fabrics and supplies.  I really don't want to spend ten dollars in gas just to go buy a zipper or a matching spool of thread.  I also found a new (for me) online fabric store,, with a lot of great sale fabrics.  Here are the some of the goods.

I was a little overzealous about opening the package.
Actually, the box had a hole in it and I started opening it from there because I could see the fabric wasn't enclosed in a bag and I was afraid there might be damage.  I got lucky this time, but I wish they had wrapped it up better.

An assortment of half to one yard piece of mostly sale fabric from

I broke down and got this expensive knit fabric I saw on Ottobre's Etsy shop but with free shipping from Banberry. 
Problem is that it's hard to find matching ribbing.

This was also on sale.  I got several yards with the intention to make valances for the kitchen window and the Ottobre Velma Skirt for Monkey Pants.
I went to JoAnn Fabrics for lining for the Burda Twist Knot Dress I'm making and some invisible zippers.  For once, I came out of there not foaming at the mouth. I must have been in a pretty good mood.  A really good mood.  I later noticed they failed to apply my 10% discount! &@#$ them!

Also, I was able to buy all this with three small children without freaking out once.  This never happens. McCall's patterns were on sale for a dollar.  It was my duty to look through the whole book again. I found one with a girl's blouse featuring a ruffle at the center front (M6389) similar to one I saw in the Ottobre 1/2010 magazine, that I didn't order as it was the only item I was really interested in. I may make it for a school uniform.  Hopefully it doesn't disappoint. Thread was 50% off.  I thought I would expand on my solid white serger thread choices.

I got this pattern and this fabric spur of the moment.  Not a print or fabric (it's very sheer) I would normally pick out but I thought I might try View B with it.  Pickings are slim for apparel fabric at JoAnn.

Now if I can just find some room to store all this.  I hope my good intentions don't fail me.  I have a lot of stuff to sew now.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Audrey Capri Pants - Fail

Pattern: Ottobre 3/2009 Audrey Capri Pants #17
Fabric:  Stretch Linen, less than a yard
Fabric Price: ~$4.60
Size: 110cm graded to 96cm waist and 122cm length
Child's Age: 7

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I made these to go with the "Hollywood Cerise". They were too small.  A total fail due to (1) my inept attempt to grade the pattern to Monkey Pants'  exact measurements, (2) the patterns rise is just too short.  Also, I forgot (3), I decided to ignore the call for an invisible zipper.  I didn't have one.  I figured a regular zipper would do.  She's not going to strut down the runway with them or anything.  I was painfully wrong.

So here are Monkey Pants'  measurements.

Yeah.  What am I supposed to do with that? She is only the size of a disproportionate Finnish toddler.

I thought I was being clever by cutting out the 110cm size to fit the hip measurement and grading the waist down to 98cm while lengthening it to the 122cm size.  The pants wouldn't zip up all the way to the top.  The rise doesn't go all the way to her waistline.  Not even close.  And don't ask me why in the hell I thought I could get away with putting a regular zipper on this.  I guess I've forgotten I haven't made any pants, much less with invisible zippers in decades.

The smaller version of these pants doesn't have the front pockets but I added them in from the larger sized "Ashlee" capri pants #34, making them about 2cm narrower.  This came out just fine.  I even added a cute contrasting fabric inside for a special surprise.  I like the narrowness in the legs, but the rise and butt and waist is just too small.  There's nothing I can do to salvage them.  Interestingly enough, the ever difficult Monkey Pants insists on wearing them every day anyway!   

Cute pockets.
  (If you look to the right, you can see the pants don't zip).

Cute side vents
And there you have the hideous zipper that is being stretched out to its max.