A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

KCW - Cozy Squirrels and Stripes

I splurged on some Stenzo and Lillestoff knits off Etsy last winter while I was pregnant.  I bought this adorable squirrel print cotton/lycra specifically for the baby (gender unknown at the time), and chose a cream-and-brown stripe to contrast with it.

KCW was the motivation I needed to sew up a set AND to finally learn how to use the coverstitch machine my family chipped in to buy me for my birthday.

I made a Lullaby Layette shirt in a 0-3 month width with 6-12 month length.  The leggings are my beloved Playtime pattern in a straight 6-12 month size.

I used linen for the placket and the binding.  I wanted the linen side of the placket visible from the front, so I just started sewing it to the wrong side of the fabric instead of the right side.  As it turns out, that wasn't exactly the way to do it - I ended up with a raw edge of knit fabric that I had to somehow ease behind the placket when I sewed the two parts together at the bottom.  I'll have to take a harder look at the instructions and think it through before trying it again.

I did not have the right size snaps for the placket, and I did not want to make buttonholes.  So I just sewed the bottom two buttons through both parts of the placket.  The top button is sewn only to the front placket, but there is a hidden sewn-in snap on the inside to keep it shut.

After I'd sewn everything else up, it was time to brave the coverstitch machine.

The machine feels like an incredible indulgence, especially when I'm explaining its function to people and they say, "So that's all it does?"

Yes, that is all it does.  But it does it so well.  I sat in front of the TV last night after I'd finished, just stretching and stretching the hems, just to see how very much they do not pop.

Setting in the waistband elastic was a breeze, too.  I serged it directly to the raw edge, then turned it and coverstitched it down.

But given how many pairs of leggings my oldest goes through in a season, and given how truly impossible it is to find RTW ones that fit her, my new toy is really a worthwhile investment.  No more trailing thread, no more popped hems.  

Probably a few more pairs of these leggings for Niko, too.  They are perfect baby wear and are long enough that I expect them to fit him through the winter.

He just turned 5 months old, and I can't believe how big he is getting!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

KCW - Baby sleep sacks

Before Niko, I did not have much use for those-elastic bottomed sleep sacks.   I always heard them touted as the most convenient option for babies who still needed to be changed at night.  But I preferred footed sleepers - maybe because none of the others required middle-of-the-night diaper changes for very long.  Or, and this is more likely, it was because my husband always did the changing.  

At five months old, Niko still requires an overnight change after one of his feedings or he will wake up soaked in the morning.  And now that I do all the night-time changes all myself, I have found that I have zero patience for wrangling cranky baby legs into footed pajamas at 3 a.m.  The elasticated sleep sacks (which I layer underneath a zippered fleece sleeping bag now that it has gotten colder) really are much more convenient in the wee hours of the morning.  But we only had two, and both were very nearly outgrown.

Since I already had Growing Up Sew Liberated, I used the sleep sack pattern from the book.  I was a little leery of using another pattern from that book after the dramatic failure of the basic pocket pant, but then I remembered that I had previously made the book's envelope tee and sleeping john patterns and they were fine (and in fact, Gabriel is still wearing them, though the tee is nearly cropped on him now).

I made two sacks.  The first in a buffalo plaid double-faced cotton knit from Fabric Mart.  It is a lovely heavy weight for cool nights.  The reverse side is a natural-colored rib knit.  I used that side to make a quick wonky star appliqué for the front.

I love the combination of plaid and knit - as far as I'm concerned, its one you don't see often enough!  For the neckbands, I used some black ribbing from my stash.  I would have preferred a bright color for the ribbing but I only had black, white and brown on hand.  (Inder and Rachel both recently blogged about their favorite sources for colorful ribbing and now I am itching to buy a whole rainbow of it to have on hand.)

I made the 6-12 month size for my stalwartly 50th percentile-in-height nearly 5-month-old in hopes that they would last us through winter.  After I cut out the plaid sack and basted the shoulders together, I laid it out next to the baby.  It seemed quite short - one kick and his feet would stick right out.  Ugh, I was annoyed.  I should have measured him before cutting, but really, he is of average height for a 5-month-old, so the 6-12 month size should have been plenty long enough!

Grumbling all the way at the whack sizing of the pattern, I cut two more 5" wide strips of fabric to attach to the bottom, matching the plaid ok vertically but not really horizontally, and then made the elastic casing as directed.  I didn't hem the sleeves, but just serged the raw edges and turned them up to leave plenty of room for growth.

I made a second out of some lovely medium-weight red cotton/lycra (also from Fabric Mart) that I now wish I had bought more of.  It is a great weight for a sleep sack - and I have enough left for a pair of leggings for Natasha.

I used some Laguna jersey in aqua for the neckbands, which I cut narrower for this version.  I think the proportions are a little better this way.

He has now worn both sacks to sleep and his feet have remained fully covered!  Plus he looks adorable. 

I won't be doing this KCW as doggedly as I usually do - I did not manage to get to the machine today - but I hope to turn out one or two more items before the end of the week.  My mother-in-law is visiting, so I am optimistic!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Big Boy Bed and the Hudson's Point-inspired Duvet Cover

When my girls moved into their toddler beds three years ago, I made their bedding.  I cut a twin sized comforter in half to make two little comforters (the cutest things ever, seriously).  And I dropped a bundle on some Moda quilting cotton that wasn't even on sale to sew two duvet covers and four pillow cases.  They were so stinking adorable on those little beds.

DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

Fast forward to now.  Niko still sleeps in the co-sleeper in our bedroom, but it won't be long before we move him into the crib ... which Gabriel is still sleeping in.  So we bought the girls a bunk bed (!) and moved one of the toddler beds into G's (soon to be both boys') room.   He asks to sleep in it every night, but I keep telling him he needs to wait until I finish his bedding.  But really, I'm just not looking forward to his being mobile overnight and early in the morning.

 DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

Anyway, I finally made the bedding.  I had saved this tutorial for a Hudson's Bay Point quilt from Skirt as Top.  I really wanted to make the quilt version, but knew that it would be getting colder by the time I got to it.  So I turned it into a duvet cover.

 DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

My colors are a little different then hers.  I did a little Googling and came across some vintage blankets where the green stripe appeared more of a sea foam color. When I went to the fabric store, I looked at a number of combinations and settled on the sea foam in place of the green.

DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

Then the fabric sat in my sewing room for a month until I put my WIP Josephine in time-out for the fourth time and was casting about for another project. From cutting to buttonholes it only took about three hours, with another half hour minutes for cutting the holes open and sewing on the buttons.

In my haste, however, I pieced the stripes in the wrong order. And I left off the black lines that denote the "points" of the blanket. So it's not so much Hudson's Point as it is "inspired by."

DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

I more or less followed Kristin's cut list, with a few changes (I'm posting them at the end of this post for my own reference if I later want to make a matching one for Niko).

Gabriel has slept with the duvet in his crib the last two nights, and I find that it stays on his tossy-turny little body much better than the smaller blankets he had been using.  It's a hit.  I think it is perfect little boy bedding and I like how it plays off the striped accent wall in the bedroom.  I will make a matching pillowcase whenever I do finally move him into the bed ... maybe this week?  Yikes.

DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.


Red: 2 each at 2.5" x 43"
Yellow:  2 each at 2.5" x 43"
Sea Foam:  2 each at 2.5" x 43"
Navy:  2 each at 2.5" x 43"

(I actually had to piece some of the colored stripes to get the required length - there was a lot of shrinkage!)

Cream:  6 each at 2.5" x 43"
              1 at 18.5" x 43"
              1 at 6.75" x 43"
              1 at 8.25 x 43" (for button flap)
              1 at 61" x 43" (back of cover)

For the button flap. I folded the 8.25" piece over 1/4", then applied a 1" strip of interfacing lined up with the fold. Then I turned over another 1".  I sewed the buttons to the inner part of the fold.  On one end of the back of the cover, I folded and applied interfacing in the same manner, but then I edge-stitched it into place before sewing the buttonholes.

DIY Hudsons Point-inspired duvet cover to sew.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Maternity tee tutorial: 3 ways to sew it

Easy maternity tee tutorial

I first wrote those post more than five years ago while in the home stretch of my last pregnancy. It's been pretty popular, so I wanted to update it to be a little easier to understand. (To be clear, I am not currently pregnant!)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Oh, Josephine

Made By Rae's Josephine caught my eye as soon as it came out.  That happened to be just a week after I completed my Amish Washi dress.  Someone cautioned me that, if I didn't like the fit of the Washi, I probably wouldn't like the Josephine either, because they would be based on the same blocks.  It seemed like sage advice, and there were plenty of other things to sew, so I held off.

Nearly two years later, I find myself searching for something to sew my postpartum self.  As I am 30 pounds up from pre-pregnancy weight, none of my TNT patterns fit.  For some reason it seemed more reasonable to buy a totally new pattern, than to refit the Plantain or Lisette Traveler that were my cool-weather mainstays before I got pregnant.

So I threw caution to the wind and bought Josephine.  And I am SO glad I did!

I made a few modifications.  The pattern does include two cup size options, but there was no way C/D was going to cut it these days.  I'm rocking a G cup at the moment, so I did an FBA on the C/D bust size Large (which corresponded to my high bust measurement).  I also moved the dart down, so that it pivots to the bust at an angle.  I find this angled dart much more flattering than parallel-to-the-floor horizontal darts.  I had previously thought this dart was called a French dart, but I recently read that French darts start just above the waist, and mine is higher than that, so I am not sure what to call it.  

(My six-year-old took these photos in the rain using our DSLR ... they are a little blurry but I think she did a pretty good job!)

I did not sew the pin tucks all the way down, but ended them a bit below the bust line a la Rae's release tuck version.  I also omitted the back elastic because I just wanted something loose and floaty.  In the wrong position it does look a bit maternity, but I am still rocking the baby belly and there is only so much you can do to camouflage that.

I suspected that I would not like the degree of sleeve puff at the top, but I put them in per the pattern anyway ... and I was right.  Rather than cut a new sleeve, I just removed them and sliced an inch off the top of the sleeve cap.  I am sure this is the absolute wrong way to de-poof a sleeve, but it actually worked pretty well.  I found some good tutorials for sleeve adjustments here that I followed on my second Josephine (I'm halfway through but having a little trouble).

I knew before I sewed the pattern that I would need to lower the neckline to avoid looking matronly. It's funny - I actually like almost all the Josephines I've seen, and I only think a couple of them look matronly - but I knew that, on me, it just wouldn't work.  I cut the neckline written, and then tried it on after I'd put in the darts, pin tucks and sewn the shoulders together to decide how much to lower.  I ended up bringing it down a full 2" and I think I could even drop it another 3/4" or so the next time I make the pattern.  It is really quite a high neckline, though it doesn't look that way on smaller busts.  I bound the neckline to the wrong side with prepackaged bias, and managed to avoid the dreaded neck gape on my first try!  Clipping the neckline really makes a difference.

I used a crinkly gauze purchased for $4.50/yd from Fabric Mart last May.  I didn't like it as much in person, as on the screen, so I figured it would be an easy sacrifice for my first try on the Josephine, and as it turns out I love it made up in this pattern!  It's interesting, but not so busy that it completely obscures the pin tucks.  And it's a nice weight for a summer-to-fall transition piece.

Oh, Josephine.  I never should have doubted you.

Linking up with Gray All Day.