The boys have needed new pjs. #1 because all of his pjs are comically highwaters and #2 because he’s finally big (ish) enough to wear some proper looking pajamas.
My friend Linda gave me this fish fabric with stars a while back and it was perfect for my animal loving boy with the bright blue eyes.
There’s a lot of firefighter that gets played around this house. It’s not unusual at all for breakfasts to be finished and for me to be cleaning up when I see two little heads in the backyard in their fire helmets putting out imaginary fires. So this flannel with hydrants and dogs also seemed about right.
For all that I really hate sewing for other people, I do enjoy it when it’s for them. I talked about this with a friend who is an artist. She’s concluded that she likes selling her paintings after the fact and that feels okay, but she will not commission work anymore. What she found was that in having someone else dictate the creative process for her took all of the joy out of it on her end. I resonate with that. When my sewing time is limited and when it’s my one time of the day that doesn’t involve caring for other people, putting that extra pressure of someone else’s time and expectations is just too much. I sew for joy. Why do you sew?
The giveaway for Onion 5038 and The T-Shirt Project wrap-up post is coming. Programmer Husband needs to figure out if it’s possible to add a link party in WordPress.
My oldest son’s best good favorite buddy is having a knight-themed birthday party next week. After looking over our options concerning knight costumes, and coming up with creative differences
not a knight, definitely a spaceman
sorry son, I’m only pulling out a viking pattern if you’re producing a kiddie version of the Ring cycle
Noah concluded that he did not, in fact want to be a knight at all. A dragon was a great deal more appealing to him. Even after explaining the general fate of dragons in such tales, it was firm in his mind. Dragon it must be. McCalls 2335 fit the bill, though I will be adding wings.
I shortened the legs and arms to fit him a little better, as well as shortening the tail by two spine pieces. Construction was simple, but time-consuming. I probably put about 10 hours in this from start to finish. I kept the tail stuffing until the entire jumpsuit was made because wrangling it under the machine stuffed per the instructions was obviously nonsensical. I also made my life easier by using easy-to-sew flannel vs. some hideous synthetic. I figured, if I’m taking 10 hours of my precious sewing time to make a costume for my child, I’m going to make it easy on myself. Plus, the flannel will be nice and warm come H-ween time (hey, I already have a costume for him!).
It’s been a popular item for #2 as well. Maybe he can be a knight until he’s big enough to really fit into this costume.
My full review of the pattern is here.
The magic closet has aged the dress well enough with the aid of a belt that I’m not going to call it a wadder. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not near as bad as I thought. I wore it to a CO Opera production for kids of the Barber of Seville that I went to with my oldest (I’m so proud he likes opera).
This week has been sewing for Josh week. My husband and I are both being baby minimalists, our perfect number of blankets is the number of blankets that will get spit up upon before laundry day -2. Despite this formula, people always give you blankets, and some of them have really nice fabric. I have a hard time simply donating extra blankets if they’re made from good fabric when kids’ fabric is not the easiest thing for me to procure. So, I whipped up a very cozy fleece version and minky version of Ottobre 6-2009-4 from 2 such blankets. I’ve had a hard time with my homemade onesies’ snaps pulling out, so I liked the zip front idea featured in this pattern vs the snap inseam.
I thought I could forego the pockets on the inky romper, but the finished product looked a little bare, so I cut pockets from my scraps…hence that “eyeballed” sort of look to the pockets. The pockets on the fleece version went on better.
The fleece one is also extra warm, which is great on a snowy day like today . As cozy as he is in it, he’s even more cozy to hold. My child, the Snuggie:
The minky, when it was a blanket was backed with a striped cotton interlock. The same issue of Ottobre has a little snap shoulder tee that works really well under the romper, and the cotton knit was a good choice for that pattern.
So, 2 blankets yielding 3 garments–I’m pretty happy with that return.
The t-shirt pattern review is here.
The romper pattern review is here.
To keep up with my one-a-month goals for the project, I decided to make it easy on myself and make something for #1. I have no idea when I’ll get back to sewing for myself, but definitely, I’m on a break for a little while. I was a little disappointed about this decision, then it occurred to me that it’d be a good opportunity to write about knit fabrics and kids. And certainly, writing about that is better than lamenting over the state of my hair (go figure that husbands just don’t understand).
First the tee. This is Ottobre 1-2009-22. I’ve made it before here and here in a smaller size. It’s a great basic tee with double raglan sleeves and sleeve cuffs. I love the double sleeves because you can use the pattern year round, but it also gives you some room to play with mixing fabrics.
I free-handed a submarine and a little sailboat to go with the white thermal knit sleeves. The upper sleeves are a thick almost dark teal double poly knit and the main fabric is to my best guess some sort of cotton/poly/spandex blend in Noah’s favorite shade of red which he calls, “49ers red.” Both fabrics I bought ages ago from the $2/lb table at Denver Fabrics. This all leads me to the question of fabrics and children.
- Fiber Content: the very things I love in knit fabrics are not necessarily appropriate for children’s clothing, especially for boys. All of my rayon knits which will make yield delightfully swingy garments with lots of flow that I can mold into cool design details and which will mold to me. But the very same fabrics just end up looking, well, girly on boys. And though girls’ patterns do allow for feminine details like gathering and poofyness, drapey knits just aren’t as hard-wearing as a quality cotton knit. For the few months that their clothes get worn, kids inflict major trauma on their clothes–far more wear than we would put into them in years, so it makes sense to use nicer quality fabrics for them so they have a chance of holding up. And when your local thrift store occasionally yields brilliant quality like this illegally cute cotton Mini Boden shirt with the cow applique for 25 cents, you end up not sewing for your kids.
- Price: Ottobre and like sources are wonderfully inspirational for the ways that they churn out creative garments with truly beautiful fabric combinations. But sourcing multiple fabrics for a given garment can be difficult. Most of us are close by a JoAnn, but the quality of the fabrics often doesn’t justify the expense, even with our beloved coupons. I speak of the #$%^& t-shirt whose fabric (on sale) cost me $9/yd that I labored over only to see it last exactly 2 washes. There are many good sources of quality children’s fabrics out there online, but their clothes take up so little fabric that it can get expensive simply because you’re not using what you have to order unless you’re utterly brilliant like Katie and can make 1 yard work into garments for all 3 of your kids.
- Sheerness: we’ve all run into it–the proliferation of sheer knits. I’m almost officially ready to swear off certain online suppliers who shall remain nameless with their $35 free shipping because I keep getting knit fabrics that are so flimsy and sheer. I can always choose to wear something underneath or line a garment made with such fabric, but for children, this is neither practical nor comfortable. The “thermal” knit fabric on the sleeves in this tee is completely see-through, which makes me think twice about making the rest into a onesie for the baby. Sad.
The good of searching for knits for kids:
It’s not all bad when looking for fabrics for kids. In fact, there are some distinct advantages:
- Unusual sources: Because children’s garments take up so little yardages, you can find the required bits and pieces in strange places from which you can seldom find enough fabric for yourself. The aforementioned $2/lb table at Denver Fabrics often yields great stuff for the kids–as long as I mind fabric content, I almost always score here. And I’m rather confident shopping here because I can feel the fabric. I’m not a talented refashioner (the shirt below, from a women’s tee is a rare example), but it’s certainly legitimate to go trolling for kids’ fabric among garments that are already made–or from scraps that you have in your sewing room anyhow.
- Grab bags/mystery bundles: I fear mystery bundles for myself. Given my near life-threatening allergy to black, I’m always paranoid that I’m going to end up with yards and yards of nothing but black fabric. But for kids, grab bags can be a super affordable way of getting a lot of really cool fabrics in yardages that are practical for the amount of fabric actually required for their clothes. And they probably won’t look at themselves and think, “What, am I dead?” if they end up wearing a black garment from the mystery bundle.
- Fabric content: though I mentioned sourcing hard wearing cotton knits above as a challenge to sewing for kids, occasionally, creepy knits that you probably wouldn’t wear yourself don’t bother your kids at all. For instance, I find poly fleece’s ability to make you feel warm and yet smothered at the same time positively unsettling. But it’s (ahem) absorbent, and a really practical fabric for jackets that sews up much more quickly and fuss-free than (admittedly more beautiful) other warm fabrics like wool. Noah calls his green fleece pants I made him last year his “cozy pants.” The title tee’s upper sleeves, made from thick, rigid poly double knit would be unbearable as a full garment, but on a tiny upper sleeve that is lined essentially with the lower cotton sleeve?–no problem.
So what say you, readers? How do you find great knit fabrics to use for your children’s clothes? Do you have any favorite sources?
Some good online sources of fun, inventive, and good quality knit fabrics for kids:
- Sew Baby
- The Fabric Fairy (what a great name, right? Don’t we all want one of those in our life?)
- NR Fabrics on Etsy
- Banberry Place (Euro fabrics with a surprisingly good selection of boy themed fabrics)
- Sewzanne’s (they have single issue Ottobres in addition to their fabrics)
Sometime over the summer I bought a couple of lengths of cotton shirtings thinking that I’d just whip out some shirts for the boys so that they’d be cool. Well, it’s December, and that’s unfortunately the speed at which I tend to get around to it with clothes for them.
I had in mind to use a yellow plaid for this project (Ottobre 6-2009-13), but Noah was not interested in it, and chose the gingham. That’s fine, but his shirt even with long sleeves hardly took up any yardage, so I decided to make a matching shirt for Sam.
Except, I thought about it, and I realized that Noah would quickly outgrow this shirt (especially since I should have traced a 98 and instead traced a 92) and it would be passed on to Sam. Sam with 2 long sleeved blue gingham shirts seemed like a waste of time. So short sleeved for Sam, long sleeved for Noah.
I chose the short sleeved button-down shirt from New York Kids’ Style vol 1, that I used to make Noah’s Jack and the Beanstalk shirt (no more tracing!). I love this pattern–sewing with Ottobre and Burda, I’m used to good drafting, but the drafting in this book is next level beautiful and even clever. The bands are cut-on which makes for such a nice finish, and the collar stand is so tiny, but functional and makes for a great fit. It’s subtle, but I think it sits better than Ottobre’s simpler to sew all-in-one collar.
I wish I had better pictures of them in the shirts, but I took them after we all took a Christmas card picture, and lunch was looming; so getting better pictures would involve antsy, hungry children (or more accurately hungry Mommy), or a wrestling match to put them back into the shirts…things all to be avoided at 38 weeks. But matching shirts are cute no matter what I this age methinks.
Sorry–not meaning to keep people in suspense. The winner of the giveaway is Kelley (kelleyscrapping…) Congratulations! I hope it’s an excellent pattern for you.
email me at elizabethmadethis at yahoo so I can get your address and get it shipped to you. Thanks everyone for participating! There’s 2 more Onion pattern giveaways in the next couple of months.
I’m officially off garments for myself until post-baby. I had a narrow window to get things done so that I felt like I’d be able to enjoy things long enough to make it worth my time, and it snowed last week, making the one garment I had planned kind of inappropriate. It’s actually good because I can do some UFO tidying and really focus on things for the kids. Like this lapped shoulder onesie that has been lingering on my unfinished table for *months*.
It’s an Ottobre pattern (6-2009-3), and I just couldn’t get myself to sit down with the Snap Setter to make it happen until yesterday. I’d like to make more of these–the boys being both Spring babies, we have just a few long sleeve, long legged sorts of contraptions.
I also didn’t do such a hot job on the cuffs, thinking that I’d make construction easier for myself by just serging them on. On the legs, this was a particularly bad idea as it made a nice bulge over where the snaps are. It’s a testament to how great of a tool the snap setter is that those snaps went in without a hitch, even though the business side of the snap was all uneven inside of the hole before I snapped on the top part and hammered.
What gets you to finish little bits and bobs in your sewing room?
I’m not really into Halloween as a holiday between excesses of sugar and the celebration of really scary things, but I will say that I’ve always loved making costumes–mostly for stuffed animals.
So when there was a father/son cowboy themed event at church a few weeks ago, I jumped on the chance to make up something simple for #1. I found a great wool hat at the thrift store which was much nicer than all of the costume hats, and reasonable at $3. He already had plaid button downs and jeans, so all I needed to sew was a little vest. I found maybe 1.5 yds faux suede for 3 more dollars also at the thrift store that was a nice weight and a good color.
I did some trolling on Etsy to find some inspiration and modified the last vest I made for him with some piecework in which I utilized both sides of the suede. It’s not double-faced (it’s got a knit backing), but the backing is decent-looking enough and it offered a good contrast to show off the piecework I did.
I added fringe and blue topstitching and I used up the rest of my stash of rivets just because I could. I found a little sheriff’s star at Hobby Lobby to top it off.
As it so happened, #2 was way into a little cow costume that we found on the same trip as the hat. He was less enchanted with it after we tried to put it on him. Last Saturday there was a trick-or-treat street at the zoo which we went to with Noah’s bestie (who, in an unrelated choice decided to be a horse). Sam fell asleep on our way to the zoo and was tired enough that he consented to being stuffed into the cow outfit.
So though my Hween sewing contributions were small, I was still able to contribute enough to help amp up my creativity and make little people happy, and that is welcome balm to my tired brain.
I’m declaring Wednesdays around ~E Made This as Wednesdays for Wee Ones. It’s not that I don’t like sewing things for my kids, but often, my queue is really deep. Inspiration is always buzzing around me and I get caught up in the whims of my own imagination. In the midst of this, projects for the boys are the first thing to go down on the priority list even if they’re things that are really needed. At the end of the day, what I like sewing is garments. Period. Be they miniature or for me, watching a jacket or pants or a top take shape brings me tremendous joy. 50% off Saturday at ARC also gifted me with some great knit fabric in the way of blankets and a construction-themed cotton curtain, and it got me to thinking.
Rather than being weighed down by guilt brought on by how much I sew for me and how little I sew for the kids, I’m setting aside 1 day in the week to work on stuff for them. To really work on things that they will enjoy and to give myself a mental space so that I can enjoy doing something for them instead of rushing through it so I can get to what I want to do. I think it’ll be a good rhythm for me to do this, and though it’s one more thing to commit myself to, I think it’s a good goal. Too much I look at my Ottobres and my NY Kids’ Style book too longingly and wonder when I’ll find the motivation and time to work on things out of them which is absurd because I love working out of them.
Today I made some pajamas out of the construction fabric and Butterick 4647 and a shortened version of the Ottobre pants that I always use for Noah’s bottoms. I love the rounded edges of the collar and the facings on the top, but not so much that the facing can’t be sewn with the collar at the same time. I hate stitching the edge of the facing into the shoulder seam after the fact. It just isn’t the prettiest finish.
I also made a pair of long bottoms for the long top I made out of Cars flannel I made for Noah’s bday (Katie‘s big guy is his virtual twin). What with the silly 45″ fabric, I had underestimated how much yardage I needed, and wouldn’t you know that Noah has not been the most excited about the pajamas since there weren’t pants to match. So last time we were at JoAnn, I got a little more to finish up the pants.
I don’t know how long I’ll be working on Wednesdays for the kids, but I want to do it for a while. By next week, I’ll have a badge ready in case this is a challenge you would like to take on as well.
I’ve been in a bit of a fog the past couple days trying to make my big guys’ birthday party happen. There’s no reason for me to have been stressed out, but it was his first real birthday party, so I probably put a lot more pressure on myself. In the end it was silly and we all had a good time. It was impossible to get a good shot of his pants and his vest, so here they are seperately.
1. electric blue embellished v-neck (Jalie 2921 +binding -scarf collar)
2. teal and white Ottobre 5-2007-09
3. Necklace I got from my points from hosting a jewelry party for my art teacher friend (what she sells escapes me) who often keeps me in the supply of accessories.
Today it’s cooler, a high of 63 instead of in the 80s as it has been the past few days, so I went simple and pulled out my:
1. Designer Pastiche Jeans
2. Heathered coral pearl snap henley
3. vintage Vera scarf–poly, but still awesome
It occurred to me that the deadline for PR’s Best of Contest is the 15th and that today is the 6th. That gives me 9 days to whip up a pair of jeans. Now, my construction has gotten faster, and there’s no fitting I need to do with this pattern, but that’s still kind of a fast turnaround, especially considering that I’m still in the process of altering my fabric. We’re having people over tonight for dinner, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to cut out anything today. I’m still going to cross my fingers and push on through, but I hate when jeans take over the sewing room. Maybe I’ll surprise myself with some kind of hidden ninja efficiency I have.
What are you working on?
I’m all finished up with Christmas sewing (Yay, back to working on a new pair of jeans for me!). Nothing too exciting but some much needed warm pjs for both boys.
First up is a top to some robot pajama bottoms I made a while ago. I had mistakenly not bought enough to make a top and a bottom, so I braved the crowds and showed up to JoAnn on Black Friday to get my extra yard that I needed plus this Butterick pattern for my robot-loving Noah. I dodged people going in the door and the herding route that JoAnn employees had set up and instead took my own way to get to the flannel (how could I ignore $1.49/yd?). I literally just picked up the bolt of robots when some lady said, “I wanted that robot fabric that she just got.” Sorry lady. Normally I’m not crazy and competitive like that, but Noah really really loves robots and I had been planning that strategy all week. I only took a yard too, so she could have gotten it later. I was so efficient in my strategy that I didn’t have to wait in line at the cut table (I did get more flannel too). 2 minutes later and I would have been waiting for an hour. The nutty things we do for our kids.
The top was easy enough to put together–it got sewn up in a naptime, which is quick for me with the first round of a pattern, especially one with buttonholes and what not. My only advice is to cut down the seam allowances to 1/4″ or 3/8″–5/8″ is way too much on such a tiny collar.
Then I pulled out some fleece I got on a fabric.com sale to make some warm gear for the kids. A pair of pants each and a sweatshirt for Noah that I embellished with some seed beads and appliqued snowman. I’ve never sewn with fleece before, and it was an interesting experience to say the least.
I can see why people gravitate towards fleece. It is easy to sew in one sense–the seams don’t need to be finished and it seams pretty easily. That being said I will not become one of the cranky crazies that show up to JoAnn on sale days to buy their still expensive fleece and treat the employees really badly if they can’t get 100% of what they want when they want it (though they clog up the cut table and registers buying 2 or 3 cartloads). This stuff does not press at all and it feels just kind of gross. It also takes up a lot of real estate in the sewing room. I used every last bit of yardage in 1.5 yds to make two pairs of pants and a sweatshirt, and I still have a lot of fluffy scraps that I’m pretty sure take up the same amount of space that the original piece did. If it not for the fact that the boys really do need warm clothes, I would not have caved to buy it. They probably won’t be bothered by it, but I also hate how fleece in all of its synthenticity makes you warm to the point of sweating, and then traps in all of that sweat–so you’re warm, but clammy and cold and hot. The one piece of fleecewear that I owned I lent to my Costa Rican roommate in college. In her extreme need for warmth due to her tropical blood, she would go out running in full sweats though it would be like 60 degrees and 100% humidity in the beauty of Houston “cool” mornings. I lent her that purple pullover (which frankly looked better on her), and never saw it again. I didn’t ask her about it because I was not sad to see it go. Given how well this sews, I’m not looking to destash my other colors of fleece, and besides Nathan loves the stuff, so maybe I can actually make something that he’d be interested in. But for the boys, I’ll be sticking to thrifting sweaters. When I can’t find them, I’ll stay with sweatshirting or sweater knits or other fabrics that creep me out less and that let me get nice crispy pressed edges and seams.
I’ll leave fleece to the likes of the awesome Snuggie people.