Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tiny Little Overalls

Yes, it's more baby things. I'm heading down to visit the parents-to-be right after Valentine's Day and I'm trying to get my bag of tiny duds all packed to bring with me.

The latest effort is Kwik Sew 3145, Babies Overalls and Hat.

Front view with ruler tucked in the hip pocket
My friend Jessica kindly spent hours pawing through a sale pile of Kwik Sew patterns to locate this little gem for me. This is no baby jumpsuit; this is a full-on pair of overalls with all the grown-up details. Well, except that's a faux fly and the pants are roomy enough for diapers.

I made the the 6-12 month size because there was enough work involved that I didn't want the kid to grow out of them before I have a chance to take a picture. Though just imagining the cuteness in the 0-3 month size makes my grandma fingers start itching.

Kwik Sew 3145 pattern envelope. Might need to make that hat too.
The pattern wants you to be using real hardware, but I wasn't able to find overall buckles in our local fabric store, so I used buttons instead.

Close up of buttons
I'm sure a 6-month old isn't going to be able to make full use of all those pockets, but they're just totally adorable.

Hip pocket with ruler. That's a screwdriver in the bib pocket.

There's a bib pocket on the front, along with two nice, deep hip pockets.

Little hammer pocket holding a screw driver. All our hammers were too big.
And on the back there are two patch pockets and a little hammer pocket. That just slays me.

I used some lightweight denim from Hart's here in Santa Cruz. Even though there were a lot of pattern pieces for a garment this small, the instructions were super clear and the drafting was great. It was really fun to put all the bits together.

Oh yeah, the other difference from adult overalls is the crotch snaps. I used snap tape, which was no fun to apply. I used my zipper foot but it was still tricky to catch the edge of the tape without getting hung up on the snaps. I almost decided to just sew the danged things on by hand but I wanted them to be able to stand up to a lot of hurried diaper changes without malfunction. The proof will be in the pudding!

My pattern review is on here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Still More Bras

I've been having so much fun playing with bra sewing. Just can't stop.

polka dots 
My latest is the Jasmine bra from Ohhh Lulu. You may notice one of the straps is a bit mucky. I was so excited when I finished this first version that I rushed over to show my friend Jessica in a gully-busting rain storm. Bit of mud; it will wash out.

The Jasmine is a version of what they call a bralette, which, according to the internet, is "A lightweight, simple design, usually an unlined, soft-cup pullover style bra. The breasts are covered but the bra offers little, if any, real support and is suitable for small busts."

I'd say the Jasmine provides a surprising amount of support for such a straightforward style. Plenty for this small bust anyway.

The pattern calls for a two hook closure, but I omitted that and made my versions up as pullovers. I find I usually pull my bras off and on even when they do have closures. So much easier, and so much more comfortable to wear. 

There are only three pattern pieces. No tricky curves, no easing. The cups are two piece with a vertical seam and I just cut the back band on the fold to get rid of the closure.

version two
I can get this bra out of the leftovers from a half yard of jersey that was used to make a baby tee shirt.

close-up of cups with cute raccoons
I made myself three of these bras this last week. Quick, easy and fun. The designer has a Youtube channel with a bunch of nifty tutorials that walk you through constructing her lingerie, including handling all the elastics and closures.

version three
My version three is from some scraps of Day of the Dead jersey. Very soft and comfy.

Day of the Dead jersey
Here's the Brindle & Twig 6 month tee for which I actually bought this jersey.

Baby tee shirt, also from half yard of this soft jersey
One of these days I may go wild and make a fancy lace and satin version of this pattern. Come to think of it, I have some lace up in the fabric closet that might do very nicely.

Awwww, look. We can be twins!
Until then, I'll keep going through my jersey scraps and have a whale of a time.

My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Building My Bra Wardrobe

I'm plugging away towards my long-term goal of never buying another RTW bra again in life. For some reason, bra shopping is my most hated retail excursion. I don't have fun trying them on, I sure don't have fun paying for them and I usually don't have fun wearing them. I've never found an underwire that doesn't stab me in the ribs and the hook-and-eye fasteners always poke me when I lean back in my chair.

The latest entry in my library of bra patterns is the Florence, by Seamwork. They call it a lounge bra, but for me it works great as an all-day, every day bra. They also say you can stitch one up in three hours and I think that's accurate. Or less, probably, once you get the elastic techniques under your belt.

Florence fits a wide range of sizes, from a 33 inch bust up to a 54 inch bust. I cut a small for my 35 inch bust and I think the fit is pretty good. Florence is supportive enough for me; but then, I don't have much to support. The larger busted lady might find this bra too flimsy to do much good.

Front view on mini me
Florence is a pull-on bra, which I love. I generally pull my bras off and on over my head anyway, even when they do have closures. I'm either very lazy or very efficient, I guess.

back view
I made myself two, one in a plum bamboo knit and one in a periwinkle mesh. The pattern is actually designed to work with stretch lace. I might need to give that a try. I think I have some squirreled away  upstairs in my fabric closet.

Florence is the third addition to my stable of bra patterns. Between the Josephine (Ohhh Lulu), the Watson (Cloth Habit) and the Florence, my bra needs will be well taken care of. 

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Some Baby Knitting

Baby crafting continues apace here in Surf City. Although the little guy will be growing up in Orange County, I figure every kid needs a baby blanket. This here is the Shadow Study Throw from Purl Soho, miniaturized to baby blanket size.

My version

Purl Soho's version is about 40 inches by 50 inches.

Purl Soho's version
And look at those lovely, soft colors. I fell in love with this blanket when I saw these pictures. I'd love to recreate it, but I'm way too cheap to buy the kit. Plus I don't have the chutzpah to knit an entire adult size throw.

But a baby blanket - maybe. I did a little poking around on Ravelry and it looked like most baby blankets are more in the 28 by 32 inch range. Due to my inability to do simple arithmetic (plus my failure to produce a competent gauge swatch) my version ended up more like 31 by 38. Eh, the kid can grow into it.

This pattern uses intarsia. I once knit a pair of intarsia argyle socks in high school. It was a nightmare; I had about 30 little bobbins of yarn tangling around each other, trying to strangle me. I swore I'd never do intarsia again.

This intarsia project was surprisingly fun! Purl Soho offers the pattern for free, bless them, along with a bunch of very clear tutorials on knitting intarsia with garter stitch. The blocks of color are pretty big, and you're never using more than four yarns at a time. If you think you might want to give intarsia a go, this pattern would be a nice introduction. Fair warning, though: it is a bunch of garter stitch. Like, a bunch. Good for TV knitting.

I took my friend, Jessica, with me to help with color combinations. I'm totally useless at combining colors. I was after a blanket that said baby boy without screaming Baby Boy. I couldn't find quite the color combo I had in mind, but, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, you knit a baby blanket with the yarn you have, not the yarn you might want or wish to have at a later time. I wish the yellow-green were a bit more lime. But they were fun colors to work with and I think I like how they came out.

I used Encore worsted, purchased at The Swift Stitch here in Santa Cruz. Encore is a wool/acrylic blend that is supposed to be machine washable and dryable. Plus it's affordable. Can't beat that for a baby blanket. The blanket feels nice and soft, and it's light weight enough not to give the kid a heat rash.

My sketchy Revelry notes are here. Next up, some sewing for me!

Froggy Coco

I'm taking a sewing class through Watsonville Aptos Adult Education. Strictly speaking, it's a sewing workshop. We meet for 3 hours every Thursday evening and sew our hearts out. Our teacher, Sara, is a total doll, and one of the most patient people I've ever met. She teaches sewing to middle schoolers; something few of us could manage without a rum and coke at the ready. She's Thread Monster Studio on Facebook. She has a bunch of handy-dandy sewing links on her page.

One of the other students in our class made up a french terry version of Coco which was so cute I decided I should give the pattern a try.

I made this top as a Christmas present for my friend, Carol. She likes tops that are a bit on the long side and not too tight fitting, so I thought Coco might be her cup of tea. Plus, she's got a thing about frogs, and look at the fabric I found at Hart's:

two frogs chillin' on a lily pad
 Not sure you can tell from this photo, but those are little frogs sitting on lily pads. You don't often find a frog themed fabric that someone who isn't a toddler can get a way with, so I figured it was meant.

side view
Carol is about my size. I cut a size 3 based on my 35ish inch bust and I think it should work out OK for her.

back view - wings!
If I were making it for myself, I'd narrow down the bottom hem. You can see from the back view that  there's more fabric down there than I can use. The size 3 is expecting a 37 inch hip, which I sure don't have. Carol tends to prefer a loose fit though, so I think it will serve.

The neckline is a tad wide on me; almost into bra-strap territory. Next time I make this up, I'll narrow the neck just a bit.

I used a new-to-me neckband technique that I found on a tutorial for kid tees. I think I kind of like it.

close-up of neckband technique
You cut your band (I usually cut 2 inches) and sew to the neck edge with right sides together. Trim your seam a bit and then fold the neckband to the inside and stitch in the ditch on the front. Or in the general area of the ditch if you're like me and not too accurate with these things. Then just trim off any extra neckband on the inside close to the stitching. It feels a little less bulky than other methods I've used.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Elephant Skin Blanket

Elephant skin may not sound like the softest thing around, but when it's made from minkee, everything's different.

This is Cotton Ginny's Cuddle Blanket in the style "Pachyderm." The pattern I bought includes a bear and hippo version, if I should want to switch things out. She also offers patterns for lions, frogs, dogs, cats, zebras; practically the entire animal kingdom.

Stretched out on the rug
I first spied this pattern on the Sew Well blog. Amy has made a bunch of these cuddle blankets, each cuter than the last. When I discovered I was going to have a grandson, the first thing I thought of was making one of these darn blankets.

Little tail
The pattern calls for minkee. My internet exploring turned up a bunch of terrifying information about sewing with minkee. Stretching, creeping, fluff everywhere. I considered using flannel instead, which I bet would also be very cute, but then I noticed the mother-to-be nuzzling a minkee stuffed bear on a recent trip to LA. So minkee it had to be.

I went slow, used plenty of pins, lengthened my stitch to a 4.0 and it didn't give me much trouble after all. It's true, there was fluff everywhere. I tried not to breath deeply and I'll clean my machine out before I try to use it for anything else.

But once all the raw edges are safely sewed up to the inside, that minkee is so darn soft and soothing. Mmmm. I think it was worth the trouble.

Baby's eye view
This was my first time sewing up a stuffed animal-type object, so I stumbled through the directions a bit. I could have used a diagram showing exactly how the underside of the head was meant to come together. I was able to figure things out pretty well, though, by pinning and fiddling a bit with the pieces as I went. I'm not 100 percent sure my finished product would meet the designer's standards, but it's good enough for Grandma work.

Cotton Ginny had some computer issues in the midst of my order, which delayed shipping for a bit. She was super sweet and insisted that I pick a free pattern to make up for any lost sewing time. She also said she's always happy to answer questions from sewists if they find themselves confused about one of her patterns mid-project.

If you happened to be a besotted grandma and you have a source for minkee, I really recommend this pattern. I'm actually pretty tempted to grade the pattern up to 5 feet long to make one for myself.

My pattern review is on here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Yet More Baby Duds

I'm still on a baby sewing jag here in Surf City. I'm going to have to slow my roll, or my grandson-to-be will need extra closet space while he's still in utero. I'm just having so much fun that I can't stop.

The top of this little outfit is the Brindille and Twig Basic Tee done up in a cotton jersey in a print called Rocky Raccoon. Need a close-up of that? OK, here goes:

tee up close
Oh, you meant even closer?

Raccoons close up
Pretty cute, huh? I'm thinking my grandson will be the most hipster baby in So Cal.

The pattern was very easy and fun to sew. The only fiddly part was the neckband, but I always have to fiddle with knit neckbands. It was extra challenging in this case because everything is so tiny. For this version I did what I always do for my own neckbands: press the band wrong sides together, pin to the edge of the neck, sew that puppy down with a bit of stretch and then flip the seam to the inside and zig-zag in place. I've tracked down a couple tutorials on the web that promise a less bulky finish, which is important when you're head is almost as big as your shoulders. I'll give one of those techniques a go on my next tee, and hope that practice will make perfect. This pattern will take me all the way up to a size 6T, so it will allow for practice galore.

The pants are from the May, 2015 Burdastyle (trousers #137B). That issue has a bunch of very cute baby patterns sized for knits. You can download them from the Burdastyle site if you can't get your hands on the magazine.

BS 05-2015 #137
Don't they look like little MC Hammer pants? The style should give plenty of diaper room. There's a separate waist band and little cuffs. I used a knit cotton jacquard that's maybe a bit heavy for this pattern.

It's almost a sweatshirt weight, which made turning those cuffs inside a bit tough. I can't wait to go crazy on this one with some bright cotton prints. Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be slowing my roll....

My third item is another pair of pants, also done in the navy jacquard. These are from a Butterick See and Sew pattern, #6364.

BS 6 month vs. Butterick newborn size. WTF??
Here they are, compared to the Burdastyle trousers. The Butterick pants are the newborn size; the Burdastyle are the 6 month. I mean, I know the Big Four add lots of ease, but this is a bit ridiculous, no? These Butterick newborn pants have an 11 inch inseam. That's just not right, is it?

No real worries, the kid will grow into them eventually. The pattern also includes a bunting; I think I'll stay away from that. He for sure will not be needing a bunting when his inseam is 11 inches.

My pattern reviews for these items are on thusly:

Brindille and Twig tee
Burdastyle pants
Butterick pants