Thursday, November 8, 2018

Spooky Dinosaurs

Having been well pleased by the results of my first experience with the (Hooded) Max Raglan, I impulsively went for a second. I've always had a slightly strained relationship with the Made By Jack's Mum Explorer Raglan because I love it but always have to shorten it, meaning I'm too nervous about sizing to use it for gifts. I was eager to see how the Max & Meena Raglan compared.

I got some amazing Dinosaur fabric from Heartthrob Threads, and at the time it was October, and so the perfect time a Halloween shirt. Although my son measured a 2/3T, I went for the 4/5 size - the same size as I made his hoodie, which I thought fit nicely. I paired it with a great orange solid from Purpleseamstress, and away I went.

The shirt turned out great, and this time the proportions looked more correct. But, a 4/5 *did* end up being a little big on my 3T son without the bands to rein it in. To be fair, my kid *measured* a 2T/3T in the Max Raglan, even though I've been making him a 4 in the Explorer Raglan for over a year now. Therefore, M&M still wins the "runs true to sizing" competition, and the main take-home lesson here might be "make the size the kid measures for the plain raglan, but if you're doing the banded hoodie size up."

It's all good though, because my son (and his daycare teachers!) love the shirt. He has fun naming the dinosaurs, guessing at what they're dressed as are for halloween, using them to blend in with our other decorations from halloween

Here's to a spooky Dino shirt that might actually still fit next year!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lego my Batman!

I'm not even sure how we ended up with the DVD for Lego Batman - maybe one of the kids picked it out at Wal-mart - but around our house, that movie is a huge hit. So when this fabric came across my FB feed, I knew I had to order some.

I've been feeling guilty that all summer long, I sewed dresses for my daughter, but my son always seemed to get the short shrift. It helped that his superhero shirt from last year still fit, but... It's been time for something new for a while.

Enter the Max & Meena Max Raglan - this hoodie is all the rage in my custom fabric circles, and for obvious reasons. It cuts a really nice silhouette, and the pockets are pretty eye-catching and unique in photos. I bided my time and waited for a sale, and on Labor Day they offered 25% off, so I splurged and downloaded the pattern.

Once I got it, I realized I hadn't anticipated the following complaints:

1) 1/4" seam allowances. Yes, I'm from a quilting background. I still hate 1/4" seams on knit.

2) Pocket lining attaches with a seam straight across the front of the shirt. I don't know where I'd THOUGHT the pocket linings would attach, but "through my center design" wasn't it.

3) "Double sizing" - ie, 2T/3T = one size, 4T/5T = one size, etc. I guess they're room to grow when the kid is on the small side, but they're scary in an bigger-end kid.

So... not the panacea I had hoped for, but hey: I'd admired it long enough that I couldn't give up without actually MAKING one. So...

I'm glad I did!  This hoodie was very nicely proportioned, all the parts went together without a hitch, and the pockets really DO look sharp in practice. I did fussycut the heck out of my fabric to get the batmobiles on the sleeves just so, and the art on the hood where I wanted it to be.

I also altered the stitching line on the pockets to avoid a line through Batman and Robin's feet. The green line indicates where the pattern WOULD have had me put a stitch line, but the red line is where I actually put it.

Lowering the bottom stitch line on the pockets put it very close to the band, so I just caught the pocket lining in the band rather than make a separate stitch line. It made for a slightly roomier pocket, but my son doesn't seem to mind. The pockets still work fine!

And my son seems to love his new hoodie. I did size up from what was recommended (he measured a 2/3, I made a 4/)5, and the fit is (IMO) about perfect. Using the featured print on the raglan sleeves and the hood is quite eye-catching; with the stitch line modification above, the front showcases the panel quite nicely.

I'm also lucky that I ended up with JUST ENOUGH extra panel to make the sleeve bands, and pocket lining. I'm also lucky that the Royal Blue solid I bought from Purple Seamstress (used on the back and in the hood lining) was such a perfect match.

So despite my complaints with the pattern, this is a definite make-again. Here's to a happy (and well-dressed) kid!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

So Awesome

My daughter might be a My Little Pony Fan, but she's got NOTHING on a friend of hers, N, who found out last year that she was going to be a big sister. N (who has received 2 zombie dresses from me already) watches the My Little Pony Movie every day, and can sing most of the songs from the movie.

When I bought these panels, it wasn't clear if N's sibling was going to be a boy or a girl. But, N's dad is a bit of a Brony himself, which made the artwork a pretty safe bet. It wasn't until well after purchasing these panels that I learned Baby #2 was a girl.

As is usually my way, I was still working through OTHER backlog projects in my queue until about 2 weeks before the Baby #2's baby shower. Sewing dresses with a panel is pretty easy - but I was loathe to repeat my mistake with the BubbleGum Dresses and try a new pattern with a deadline looming. Longtime readers of this blog will already guess what is coming: yes, the Tie Dye Diva Easy Peasant Dress (Pattern Link).

I'm lucky I had plenty of Purpleseamstress CL solids left from other projects. Both dresses were blocked and backed with black to keep it simple, and for Baby #2's sleeves I went with a Rainbow Dash blue to add a pop of color. The diaper cover is also a Tie Dye Diva pattern, which typically drives me nuts in woven but actually turned out not half-bad to make in knit.

For Big Sister N, Purple like Twilight sparkle was the way to go.

If anyone is still counting (I am, assisted by my blog) these are TDD dresses 10 and 11. They were gifted in late September but sized so to be worn early the following spring. N already loves hers, and we'll see what baby #2 thinks when she arrives!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mario Memories

My brother D and I are both children of the 80s, so we have plenty of memories of the great 80s classic, Nintendo. I don't know how many hours we logged on Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, and when the SNES came out, Mario Kart. For the most part D did the playing and I did the watching - to this day my hand-eye coordination is kind of unimpressive, even though sewing has helped some - but by the time Mario Kart rolled out, I was up for direct participation in the fun.

So, when my brother announced that he and his wife were pregnant THE DAY before this preorder closed, I knew what I had to do: 

Order it, and not look back, of course! I cannot describe how lovely this print is in person - something about the look of watercolor on fabric just gets me every time - and when I found out it was a boy, a sleeper seemed an all-purpose logical thing to make with it. I went for the CKC Spencer, which I had grabbed on sale during a spring promotion. I had long suspected it would become useful eventually, and so it was:

I will say, CKC's approach to the lining (aka the yellow parts) of the Spencer was problematic. The lining was too short for the sleeper, and while Cotton Lycra stretches, the knit interfacing required to back the snaps did NOT. Well, not as much as it *needed* to, anyway. I was able to MOSTLY account for the difference by stretching the lining a little extra in the neck area, but if I'd had more interfacing I would have *liked* to put one more snap further up.

And, speaking OF snaps... This project was another great chance to try something new. Back when I'd made the Bears that Care Kimono set, I'd used metal snaps, but they... hadn't seemed very stable. The sewists in CKC's Facebook Group recommended Kam Snaps, and though I'd initially balked at the price ($28 for a starter kit plus $12 for the color cards) It turned out to be a pretty good investment. The snaps are way better looking than your standard Joann's metal snaps and they FEEL more stable. Plus I think the males are easier to tell from the females, and there's less scratchy parts to harm a baby if a snap comes loose.

I also thought these snaps were pretty easy to use, and though I procrastinated a bit on trying them due to nerves, I was overall quite happy with the end product.

By the time I finished this sleeper, my nephew W was already born. D and his wife asked me to be W's godmother, so traveled to California for his baptism, and brought this with me as a gift.

Here's me with my tiny new nephew - easily the most chill of my brother's 3 babies - and with my brother and his wife. It was a great visit, and you can read more about it in my SIL's blog. It'll be a little while before W can wear it - I made it in size 6-9 months, and he's about 3 months old in this photo - but I look forward to they day he does.

Also, I'd like to include a link to the image I used for little W's card. while googling "baby sleeper snaps," I got this gem of a comic from Fowl Language by Brian Gordon:

I already read this comic erratically (I am, after all, a parent), but this particular installment just HAD to be passed along to my brother. In my defense, this sleeper only used 16 snaps. I know because after I saw this, I counted.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Zany to the Max

Before there was Ohana, there was Animaniacs. I bought this fabric in February thinking to make dresses for R and C - since their mother and I were Animaniacs fans together in middle/high school.

The fabric itself is pretty busy, and panels are always a challenge. But when I ran across the Candy Castle Patterns BubbleGum Dress on Etsy, I knew I had a winner. There are SO MANY stunning dresses made with this online!

Of course, it's also a more ambitious dress than most of the ones I've tried so far. Puffed sleeves, bias tape hems, a wrap closure... I printed & taped the pattern, read through the instructions and... promptly realized I wasn't going to be churning 2 of these out in the week and a half before I went to visit the girls, no matter what all the reviews on Etsy said. D'oh! 

Instead, I made my Ohana dresses that week, which worked out well. But I was still left with  a gorgeous, taped out pattern, a craving to learn puffed sleeves, and some fabric for which I had a vision. Oh, and plenty of time to shop for bias tape.

I picked this beauty up at Charm Cottage Fabrics on Etsy. I loved the crochet edge and thought the polka dots were about perfect. Cutting these dresses out took a while (there were lots of parts) and as with every sister set I have made, having to do everything twice can turn even a short project into a long haul.

I'm not entirely happy with the way the sleeves turned out (I forgot to take a picture, but let's just say you can tell the direction I sewed from where the gathers on the puffed sleeves ended up; and I am a consummate pin-er), and making sure that the second row of bias tape stitching covered the first was harder at some points than others. So, anyone online who ensures me this is a delightful and easy beginner dress will from now on earn some instant side-eye from me. Like, it's a beautiful dress. the construction steps are straightforward. But it is NOT a beginner's dress by any stretch of MY imagination. Oh, and bias tape isn't *cheap*, either.

That said, will I make it again? Absolutely. It wasn't EASY, but it was GORGEOUS. The wrap construction makes it flexible for all sorts of body types. The shape of the skirt is great for showcasing a panel. Being able to use a different fabric on each side of the bodice made for a nice/fun touch, and toned down a fairly wild print. despite the imperfections, I was happy with how they came out.

And as for the recipients? Well, they're looking sharp in their new dresses!

I get the impression these dresses come out about once a week. And R (the eldest) dresses herself, so I *know* that means her dress is well loved. C also looks cute as a button in hers, and that I have to admit when I see those kids so cut and happy, I can't help but take pleasure in a job well done.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gone to the Dogs

My Brother is a Disney fanatic, and one of his favorite Disney movies is 101 Dalmatians. He's also a dog person in general, so when I saw this fabric, I immediately thought of him.

Fabric this cute just had to make its way to my sewing room! I don't do a lot of sewing for adults (fabric is expensive, and adults are pickier about fit usually), but I do own the Cole's Creations Jerry's Raglan pattern, which I keep swearing I'm going to try out on my husband one of these days. In the meantime, it would do nicely for my brother.

The Jerry's Raglan is GINORMOUS when printed out - 49 pages, I think - and having taped it together once, I think next time I buy a men's PDF pattern I'm going to splurge on something with an A0 format. That said, the raglan came together nicely, and I loved the Doggie details.

I even put a "custom" tag on the back, to assist my brother in finding the front of his shirt. It's just a small rectangle of Cotton Lycra, but it's soft and it gets the job done.

Mailing the shirt was a bit nervewracking, but it made it to its destination safely. Here he is modeling it in his signature Green Bay Hat! I'm glad I went with a size 44 (one size larger than measured).

The shirt made its maiden voyage on a bowling date with my parents, where it was much admired.

Hopefully that wearing is the first of many to come.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rockin' the Aurora

You know that feeling when your kid develops an affinity for something FIVE MINUTES after the opportunity to buy it expires? That's what happened to me with little A and some Jojo fabric. One of my favorite sites ran a preorder, and I counted myself lucky that this print wasn't relevant to me and bought some other pretties instead; then like 3 days after the round closed, my daughter dicovered the singer and within a week she was bugging me for a "Jojo" dress. Aargh. Fortunately, a couple of months later someone in a destash had extra they didn't need, so I was able to acquire "one yard with tail."

Having learned from past experience, I also did a line drawing of some of the patterns I was considering purchasing, so that my daughter could pick the silhouette/neckline she preferred.

Given my lack of drawing prowess (and Jojo's affinity for bows), I was a little surprised she chose the Stitch Upon A Time Aurora, but hey: I was pretty excited to try it. I think she might get her love of interesting strap configurations from me.

In terms of the PDF pattern companies I have worked with, I felt Stitch Upon a Time was solidly middle-of-the-pack. The pattern pieces went together fine, and the tutorial has some small ambiguities, but nothing I couldn't figure out by double-checking the pictures after a more careful reading. The dress turned out lovely.

I did have some trouble getting the straps not to be lumpy in the back - possibly in part because I was using custom-weight fabric, but also because getting stretch fabric not to shift as you sew over it is easier said than done. That is a minor annoyance though: overall this dress is *definitely* a make-again.

Little A loves it - for the 4th of July she declared it her "fireworks dress," and it's just as gorgeous as the Solis but with less of a time investment. Operating on a time crunch as I was (I'm assuming Jojo is pretty "of the moment"... feel free to come back and mock me in 2 years if she's the next Madonna or Britney Spears), I am sad to report I totally forgot my signature pockets.

But A doesn't seem to mind - she just loves the colors and the theme, and who *doesn't* want to feel like a rockstar in a mom-made dress?

Sing it, kid :-)