Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Grinchy Love Story

Once there was a little girl, who went through her Mother's stash. There, she found a panel that she LOVED.

She admired this panel. She drew a picture of this panel. She begged for a dress from this panel. Sadly, the panel that she chose was a Grinch panel, and the day was December 28th.

But the little girl's mother never forgot that panel. Always in the back of her mind was the way that little girl loved that panel, and how happy she looked when she held it up to her small frame.

And in May of that year, right after finishing some fun Animaniacs dresses for a friend, the little girl's mom received some inspiration: wouldn't this panel make a cute Bubblegum dress? The mother posted an ISO to Custom Knit Destash to see if she could get some coordinating fabric for the bodice.

Sadly, no-one was able to produce the coordinating fabric. BUT...

A very kind soul saw the mother's ISO, and realized she had a top made out of the same fabric in a different colorway, sitting in a pile of clothes her son had outgrown. That top was the perfect size for the little girl's brother.

That sealed it. Even though the mother did not have the coordinating fabric, she pressed ahead with the panel little girl loved.

So she took the little girl shopping, and at their local quilt shop, they picked out the perfect fabric for bias tape. The little girl had TONS of fun admiring all the fabric, and was quite excited to acquire a Me and My Sister Designs Hi De Ho Horizontal stripe that, when cut at a 45 degree angle, would "look like a candy cane!"

Other things were also acquired that day, but that's for a different post. When they got home, the mother went to work. She made the bias tape

Cut out the parts

And assembled a great, Grinchy dress.

And that's where this story takes its Suessian twist:

The girl loved the dress that her mother had sewed. And little bro matching? That never got old.  They wore their Grinch outfits when trimming the tree, and also to see the new Grinch movie.

Mom remembers that day long ago, when a girl with a panel began this whole show. 11 months later the girl is a much-bigger kid. But mom still delivered, and is happy she did.

The smiles are genuine, the kids coordinate, and "passing it forward" makes everyone feel great.

So if a little girl gives you a reason to sew - and the hinting starts in low, and then starts to grow. Go ahead and go for it, you'll be glad you did. Because this Grinch-y love story ends with one happy kid!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Gone to the Dogs II

After finishing the Always shirt for my Dad, I set my sights on a gift for my brother. When I'd bought the fabric for Gone to the Dogs I, I'd gone for a panels-and yardage set, but ultimately decided that the panels and the yardage were... a bit much together.

That said, the panel did make a pretty awesome front for a T-shirt by itself. This time I used the SUAT Huntsman pattern (a first) which I paid to have printed in A0 format by PDFplotting.com. I'm definitely becoming a huge fan of A0 patterns, because I like to transfer from a master pattern to tissue paper. I print all sizes at once  (it helps with grading) and having the pattern on one large sheet  eliminates the need for tape and speeds up the tracing process.

The Huntsman was an easy pattern to use - I stand by my wish that SUAT patterns printed in true one-color-per-size, and not just black & white with red options, though. At this point I can assemble a T-shirt without looking at the written instructions, so I have to admit I didn't really pay much attention to the tutorial as I went.

I do think the final product turned out nice, though; and my parents report back that the fit based on my brother's measurements is great.

Overall, this was a quick sew, but a fun one. Definitely a make-again!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Gamer Onesie (Power Up!)

One of the most exciting developments of this year has been the announcement of a new nephew! His parents are consummate gamers, and the mom-to-be (My SIL) has been admiring my clothing handiwork for years. Long before ever getting pregnant, she watched me complete a Mario Sleeper, a Pac Man Hoodie, and a Mario Dress. Of those, it was the Mario Dress fabric she admired the most.

So, I gotta admit even though that was 3 years ago, I've been hoarding the scraps for her ever since: "just in case." And luckily, babies start out small, so a onesie can be gotten from... not a lot of fabric, because that's what I had left.

For this project, I picked the Peek-a-Boo Lullaby Line Bodysuit. PaB is quickly becoming one of my go-to-pattern makers, and I'd seen (and admired) the promotions when it was released, so it was fresh on my mind. My nephew obviously didn't need the skirt option (which I think is pretty fun and unique) but I did like the lapped shoulders for ease sliding over big baby heads.

After purchase, I was pleasantly surprised to see how quick a make this was! I think I pretty much whipped the majority of the onesie out in one sitting, although it did then take me a couple of days to work up the nerve to put the snaps on the bottom. I used the same interfacing for this onesie as for the sleeper, since I had it lying around.

And, as with the original dress, I used bits of the brick for all the binding. My engineering heart is a little offended by the inefficient use of fabric when the featured scene disappears into a seam allowance like that, but I can't argue with the appeal of the finished product. I auditioned several solids for bands, and they... just didn't seem to look as sharp.

Overall, I have to say this pattern is definitely a make-again. It's fast, it's cute, and PaB is definitely on their A-game  here with a tutorial delivers a nice, finished product the first time around. I did mess up a little on the shoulder-binding (note to self, next time transfer the dots that tell you how far to stretch the neckband at the shoulder vs. neck, rather than forgetting until you've already pinned and then rationalizing that they can't be THAT important), but overall, this was a pretty time-effective project with good end results. I'm really happy with how this onesie looks, and hopefully my SIL will be too!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Always Serendipitous?

It's been a little over a year since I made that Harry Potter themed shirt for my Dad, and honestly, I've been wanting to make another for a while. But, finishing woven seams on my sewing machine can be quite the time-consuming process. Followers of this blog may note, however, that I recently received a serger as a gift, and after a Serger Basics class on August 10th, I was dying to try it out. I know everybody uses sergers for knits, but wovens are what I'm hoping to get more efficient at!

This fabric first caught my eye in a a feminine violet colorway, but when I saw it in "midnight blue," I knew I wanted it for my Dad. When all is said and done, he's a romantic at heart, and stories like Snape's love for Lilly really resonate with him. Plus, the fabric IS just gorgeous. I wasn't *quite* able to get enough for another bowling shirt - this was precut in 36 yard increments, and I was going to need 40 continuous inches for the back. But, I ran into the Peekaboo Yukon, which has a back yoke and a pleat for ease, and so I thought what the heck. It's all an adventure, right?

As it turns out, this was a LOOONG adventure. I started it immediately after my August 10th class, and didn't get everything pieced together until well into September. And then I still had to put the buttons on! But I will say, the Peekaboo Pattern was really well described, well constructed, and easy to follow. I'm not sure I will EVER do the long sleeved version, because even without the long sleeves, the pattern was still a 31-steps time investment. But I will definitely make this again, because I was VERY pleased with the end product after all that work.

Also, I have to give a shoutout to Amy Hindman, the designer at Peekaboo patterns. She happened to  come online when I was getting nervous about my pocket placement, and talked me through it. I had my mom measure another of my Dad's shirts to be sure, and everything Amy said was absolutely true. But it was really flattering and exciting to get that level of customer service and designer engagement. Amy was patient, encouraging, and didn't seem to mind my beginner's paranoia. I'm sure it's just luck of the draw that she happened to be logged in while I was soliciting advice on the Pattern Chat & Support group, but it was a positive experience that reminded me of the value of purchasing from a small business rather than a big corporation. Peek-a-Boo definitely moved up on my "favorite pattern shop" list after that.

And the Yukon may in fact be a favorite pattern! Mind you, not one that I'm going to tackle without a *significant* block of time available, but it was fun to learn the ins & outs of how a dress shirt is made, and it required a variety of new/interesting skill sets. I'd worked with interfacing before but never in a collar, and I got to try out the button foot on my machine for the first time. My button holer is still a dicey experience sometimes, but I'm definitely getting more proficient with it. And my serger! This time instead of finishing the woven seams with a zig zag stitch - which is always a pain, and tends to result in fraying at the edges anyway - I used my new-to-me serger to finish the seams. It went WAY faster, and resulted in a finish I was much happier with.

And speaking of happy finishes, I made the bulk of this shirt in September, but waited until November to gift it to my Dad in person. Unwilling to trust this labor-intensive beauty to mail service, I hand carried it out when we visited for Thanksgiving. And what did Dad think?

Well, he wore it for Thanksgiving and vowed to show it off to all his train-club buddies, where apparently the other shirt I made him still gets a lot of compliments and wear.

And from the collar to the back pleats in the back, I think it looks like the kind of shirt he often chooses for himself.  I might be able to size down for the next one (this time I sized up in an abundance of caution), but overall, I am pleased with how it turned out, and I'm optimistic that this shirt will get a lot of love going forward!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Another Selfish Sew

I have been promising myself a selfish sew forever, and this Halloween finally provided me with the things I needed to eke one out; a pattern I wanted to try (the Shirtzie by Stitch Upon A Time), fabric that had a "deadline" (since I obviously wasn't going to make a Halloween shirt for Christmas) and actual, honest-to-goodness time to sew over the Columbus Day holiday. Egads!

I stashed this particular beauty last year after a sale at Kammie Lou Lou's. With my limited sewing time I don't do muslins, so this was the perfect combination of "pretty enough I want to wear it" and "Not SO pretty that I can't cut into it for an untried pattern." Plus, if my first try wasn't that flattering, I'd only be wearing it 1-2 months a year anyway.

SUAT mostly promotes the t-shirt front option on this pattern, but there's a cross-front option that I think is absolutely gorgeous. And bust-enhancing, which is exciting because 2 children later my tummy isn't as flat as I might hope. The construction wasn't overly complicated, although I still wish SUAT created their cutting guides with different colors for the different sizes, and actually numbered the steps rather than letting you guess which sections to skip over based on the headers.

The shirt came out alright, and it was definitely bust-enhancing. A little TOO bust-enhancing, as it turned out. As fate would have it, I (who have spent a lifetime thinking of myself as flat-chested) wear a D-cup and have a 4.5" difference between my bust and my underbust: the instructions said "do a full bust adjustment for differences of a DD or larger (4" difference)" and so I, thinking "D cup, but barely" skipped the adjustment based on my cup size. Apparently, I should not have. The resulting cross front fit over my girls, but just barely.  

I'm also tall (5'7") and carry my height in my upper body, so I normally have to adjust my bra straps to be as long as possible - that too may have had an effect. At any rate, the shirt still turned out nice, but I definitely have to wear a cami under it if I want to take it to the office. I also don't think it's flattering as it could be, with the waistband as close under my bust it is, and the skirt poofing out so generously

But hey! It was a learning curve; I do think I plan to make this again. Next time I will use the full bust adjustment, lengthen the band a little bit (or use a fabric with less contrast), and probably take some of the volume out of the skirt. That's one of the perks of sewing, being able to figure out what works for you and implement it.

And in the meantime, kiddo #2 and I get fresh, new handmade outfits for Halloween. Not a bad deal!

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!