Post-Blogging Break Updates

Hello! I decided to take January off from blogging—just because I thought it would be nice to have a little break. I meant to start up again at the beginning of February, but I’ve been sick, busy with work, tired from being up at night with a sick baby (I mean, toddler) etc., etc., etc. All the usual stuff.

I also decided to take a break from Instagram about half way through January and, unlike blogging, I’m not interested in going back. Instagram had started to feel a lot like Facebook before I quit that. It felt like I was investing a lot of time and energy into something that didn’t really feel like it was adding any value to my life. It had started to feel less like something I genuinely enjoyed and more like something that I couldn’t opt out of, which is ultimately what made me feel like it was time to get out.

It was weird to listen to the recent episode of Love to Sew, “Sewcializing 2.0” that was basically all about Instagram—it had the effect of underlining for me all the reasons that Instagram doesn’t resonate with me anymore. So I’m just going to continue to focus on my blog as my way of participating in some small way in online knitting and sewing circles. Even though I’ve taken breaks from blogging and have often questioned why I keep up with it, I continue to enjoy writing about and reflecting on what I’ve made. I enjoy having an easily searchable record of my projects, and I enjoy making this record available for other makers who might benefit from it.

Anyway. I’ve still been sewing consistently during my blog break and managed to finish a second weighted blanket, although I failed to take any pictures of it. Lol. This blanket was for my 8-year-old godson, so significantly bigger than my first toddler-sized blanket, but it really didn’t take much longer to make. I followed the same procedure for the first blanket (which I now realize I archived on Instagram, so maybe I should reproduce it in a separate blog post), but invested in a 6×18” clear gridded quilting ruler this time, which was totally worth the $20.

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No finished photos, no in-progress photos, but at least I thought to take a picture of the fabric I used for the top of the blanket? (It’s a Minecraft print from JoAnn’s and I used a coordinating Kona solid for the back and binding.)

I’ve also finished sewing a few garments that I’ll blog about shortly, but I haven’t been doing much knitting at all. I’ve been in a major knitting slump since mid-December that has largely related to a failed project. I finished my Carbeth cardigan and found that I just didn’t like it at all and that I had no idea what to do with it, which was really disappointing. But it also felt like yet another sweater failure in a long line of sweater projects that just haven’t worked out for me at all.

So instead of knitting, I’ve been been spending a lot of time trying to determine what makes a sweater work for me—and those key factors have been surprisingly difficult to identify. I think I have a good idea of what I want and need from a sweater, and plan to write a post about those ideas and another post about my Carbeth cardigan (which is still in limbo because I’m still not sure what I want to do about it). In the meantime, I’ve ordered some new yarn to get me back to my knitting needles, although I’m keeping things safe by working on a baby sweater that will be a gift for someone else.

I think those are all of my craft-relevant updates since the last time I posted. I’ll have some finished project posts up soon and will be trying to find some time to get modeled photos of some of the garments I’ve finished recently so I can get caught up blogging all of the things I’ve been making. Yay for blogging!

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#SewingTop5 2018: Reflections and Goals

I’m back with my second post for #SewingTop5 2018. (You can find the post recapping my highlights, hits, and misses here). Today, I’m sharing my reflections on 2018 and setting some goals for the coming year.

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Reflections

#1: As I said in my previous post, one of the big highlights of this year was getting back into sewing after eight months away from the sewing room while I was taking care of a new baby. It was exciting enough just to find time to sew again, but even more exciting is the fact that I managed to carve out a regular, daily sewing habit for myself. It took some time to figure out the best approach, but I finally realized that by just setting aside 20 minutes for myself after Jude went to bed, I was able to make consistent progress on my sewing projects and enjoy some quiet, alone time at the end of the day. I’ve wanted to establish a regular sewing practice for myself since I started sewing, and I’m so glad that I finally hit upon a sewing ritual that has made that goal a reality.

#2: I wasn’t sewing during the first part of the year, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about sewing (especially when I was stuck in the lactation room at work several times a day). While I daydreamed about what I wanted to sew and plotted how I would get back into the sewing room, I realized that I needed to rethink my sewing goals. I originally took up sewing specifically because I wanted to be able to make as much of my clothing as possible and avoid shopping, which I loathe. It was an exciting but daunting goal that, in retrospect, kept me from experimenting in ways that would have beneficial to my sewing. That original goal kept me focusing on simple, basic projects that were more likely to lead to wearable garments. And I still learned a lot and, indeed, ended up with a lot of wearable items. But I think it kept me from trying garments I really wanted to wear that would require more fitting or more technical skill. And I think it also sometimes discouraged me from sewing, just because the goal itself seemed so out of reach given the amount of sewing time I have and my skill level. So I’ve reoriented my goals, and I’m trying to really focus on sewing the kinds of things that seem interesting to sew and like the kinds of garments I really wish were in my closet. And I’m trying to hone my shopping skills to take care of the stuff I don’t really want to make.

#3: As part of rethinking my sewing goals, I also started thinking more seriously about what kinds of clothes I want to wear. I feel so overwhelmed by clothes shopping that I’ve typically just gone for whatever is easiest to buy, and that’s historically left me with a boring closet of solid basics that don’t fit either my body or my personality very well. In May, I read The Curated Closet—I loved it, and it’s helped me work out a clearer sense of my ideal style, which is helping me choose projects and making it easier to shop for the things I don’t have the time or the desire to make. You can even see the pin board I created while I was reading the book here.

#4: Between establishing a regular sewing practice and getting a clearer sense of the kinds of projects I want to make, I’ve finally struck a more pleasing (to me) balance with my stash. I would generally prefer to buy fabric for a project as I’m about to make it—this is what I already do for my knitting projects, which is why I have a very minimal yarn stash. But the combination of not sewing regularly and not having a firm sense of what I’d like to sew/wear, I’ve spent the last several years engaging in aspirational fabric buying. I’d buy fabric with a project in mind, but I’d either not get around to sewing it while the desire to make the project was fresh or I’d realize that the project really wasn’t something I wanted to make. Right now, I’m making most of my short-term sewing plans based on what is already in my stash and buying fabric for new projects only as I need it. I’ve also gotten rid of lots of fabric that I just don’t have any desire to use and now I have a stash that feels manageable and isn’t stressing me out.

#5: I found that I really love sewing kids clothes. I spent almost the entire fall sewing things for Jude, and while I wish I had struck a bit more of a balance with sewing for myself, it was really satisfying to make some quick projects that have gotten a lot of wear. It just affirms my change in sewing goals—better to sew what makes me happy than to feel like I have to make everything I wear. And I know that there is likely a hard limit on how long Jude will willingly wear mama-made clothes, so I’m going to keep taking advantage of the opportunity while I can.

Goals for 2019

  1. Knit myself at least one sweater that I love. I have a post or two coming up about this, but I’ve been struggling to figure out what kinds of sweater patterns work best for me. My last few attempts at sweater knitting have been flops, so I’ll be happy if I can add just one pullover that I love to my closet.
  2. Sew a button up shirt, finally. This is one of those garments that I would happily make part of my daily uniform, but that I’ve been too hesitant to sew for fear of getting it wrong. Time to tackle the button up shirt. Luckily, I’ve already got plenty of suitable fabric to work with.
  3. Sew myself another pair of jeans. I loved the process of making my Ginger Jeans and the toddler jeans I made for Jude only reignited the desire to sew some more jeans. I want to keep working on the fit of the Ginger pattern, but I’d also like to try the Morgan Jeans.
  4. Sew a couple of shirts for summer that I feel good wearing. In my Me-Made May reflection this year, I realized that I need to make more of a concerted effort to figure out a summer wardrobe that will work for me. So I’d like to start by making a couple of non-tshirt tops for myself that feel both summery and more representative of my style.
  5. Sew something for Aidan. After having fun sewing some garments for Jude, I’d like to try making a garment or two for Aidan. I have two issues of Ottobre Family, which contain many men’s patterns. And there are actually a couple of garments that Aidan has trouble finding in stores, so it would be great if I could help him fill those wardrobe gaps.

As always though, I’m just looking forward to more making in the new year. I’m proud of everything I accomplished in 2018 and excited to tackle some new things in 2019!

 

 

 

#SewingTop5 for 2018: Highlights, Hits, and Misses

I always like participating in the #SewingTop5 Series hosted by Gillian at Crafting A Rainbow. It’s a fun way to reflect on the year, and I feel like I have a lot to celebrate and reflect on from 2018. 2018 has felt like a very long year, and I’m also kind of shocked to find myself at the end of it.

Top 5 Highlights

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  1. In January, I went back to work full-time after having Jude, which means that he also started daycare. The constant flood of kid germs aside, it has been a great experience. We love his teachers, he seems to love being at school, and I feel like parenting has given me a sharpened focus in my work life so I actually feel like I’ve gotten more efficient at work despite the fact that I’ve got more going on.
  2. At the end of April, my brother got married, and I got to officiate the ceremony. But Jude, of course, stole the show by being incredibly cute. Lol.
  3. In May, after I got my spring grades turned in, I actually started sewing again–basically for the first time in eight months since Jude was born! And I’ve actually maintained a regular sewing practice for the first time since I started sewing. I’m actually shocked by how much I managed to get sewn this year. (I actually started reading for pleasure again at about the same time and am likewise shocked by how many books I managed to read.)
  4. Jude turned one in August! We had a party for him with all of our family in Wisconsin, and I had a blast making his first birthday cake. It is so fun to watch his little personality develop. He is silly and sweet and sensitive, and I love watching him learn more and more everyday. (He also got tubes shortly after his birthday, which finally took care of the monthly ear infections we were experiencing–such a relief!)
  5. And finally, in October, I decided to make Jude a Halloween costume. It didn’t feel right to put this project on my “Hits” list since it only got worn a couple of times, but making it was definitely a highlight of my year. I didn’t think I’d enjoy costume sewing as much as I did, and it turned out so freaking cute I can hardly stand it.

Top 5 Hits (listed in the order that I finished them)

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  1. Black striped Muse Jenna Cardigan. I wasn’t sure I’d wear this much when I finished it over the summer, but I’ve been wearing it all the time.
  2. Pinstripe jersey Stevie Top. Aidan complements this shirt every time I wear it.
  3. High-waisted Avery leggings. So comfortable!
  4. Jude’s Mukava Jeans from Ottobre 01/2018
  5. My Picking Daisies shawl–easily my favorite knitting project from this year.

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Top 5 Misses

  1. My Willamette Shirt. I didn’t like the fabric I used, but also think I would have preferred a smaller size.
  2. My mid-waist Avery leggings, which basically look like my high waisted pair, but roll down my hips when I move around.
  3. My Carbeth Cardigan. I haven’t blogged about or taken pictures of the finished cardigan yet, but this knitting project turned out to be a bust. It fits, and it’s a great pattern. But it’s not my style, and I know I’ll never wear it.
  4. (and 5) Both views of the Santa Fe top that I tried. This swingy shape just doesn’t work for me–it doesn’t look good, and I don’t like the way it feels either. I haven’t really worn these, even as pajamas.

I at least feel like I learned something valuable from each of my “misses,” and I’m looking forward to putting those lessons to use in 2019. But more on that in my next post when I’ll talk about my Top 5 Reflections and Goals!

Lullaby Line Sleep Sack

Jude refuses to sleep with a blanket—he has a blanket that he cuddles with/sleeps on top of, but he does not like to be covered up. This hasn’t actually been a problem. We keep our house warm enough that he stays perfectly cozy in his pajamas while sleeping on top of a blanket. But I realized around the beginning of November that we might need to have something warmer on hand for him when we went to Wisconsin for Christmas. My dad keeps his house cooler than we do and the room that we stay in at his house is in the basement.

Peekaboo Patterns Lullaby Line Sleep Sack

Last winter, Jude had a problem sleeping in fleece pajamas. While they kept him really toasty while we were staying in colder houses, they also seemed to give him an eczema flare up. So I didn’t just want to go out and get him heavier pajamas for traveling. I vaguely remembered having seen a sleep sack pattern that included larger sizes with foot holes so that mobile kids can still easily move around while wearing the sleep sack. I was able to track it down—it was the Peekaboo Patterns Lullaby Line Sleep Sack, which includes sizes from preemie to a kids 5/6. Jude has never had a problem with fleece sleep sacks in the past since the looser cut and wearing cotton pajamas underneath allows his skin to breathe a bit, so I decided to give the pattern a try.

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The fabric is a plush polyester knit I bought from Joann’s. It is super soft and very similar to the blanket that he sleeps on top of already. The fabric shed like crazy (which I expected) and was fairly shifty while sewing (which I did not expect), but it still worked out well for the pattern. For the binding, I used some navy Kaufman Laguna jersey already in my stash. I sewed up the 12-24 months size based on Jude’s current height and it fits him nicely, with plenty of room for him to grow a bit while it’s still cold this year.

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Peekaboo Patterns is the same company that made the pajama pattern that I made for Jude last month, and I felt similarly lukewarm about this sleep sack pattern. The pattern is fine but really just isn’t as slick and professional as I’m used to at this point. (And, to be fair, the pattern price reflects that—it costs about half of what I usually pay for an indie pattern these days.) I didn’t like the instructions for inserting the zipper–it seemed like a weird attempt at a shortcut that I’ve never seen in another pattern and seemed incompatible with my fluffy, shifty fabric. The recommended binding method is also not my favorite since it involves trimming excess fabric. So I basically just set the instructions aside and sewed it up in a way that made sense to me.

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The only significant change I made to the pattern was to widen the foot cuffs by ~.75”. I read a couple of reviews online that said that the cuffs seemed a bit too narrow, and when I compared them to the cuffs that I had just put on Jude’s pajama bottoms, I saw that they were basically the same dimensions. I also narrowed the neck binding a bit since it seemed overly wide (also an issue noted by other online reviewers).

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I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Jude standing up in the sleep sack. Once again, toddlers make for uncooperative blog models. But he was very happy to show me how easily he could crawl around in it as he collected small toys to throw over the baby gate and down the stairs. So at least I know his movement won’t be restricted as he performs the complex acrobatic routine that is toddler sleep.

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Jude’s Christmas Stocking

I actually finished this project quite a while ago—I’m pretty sure I at least had all of the knitting done before Thanksgiving last year.

This is, obviously, Jude’s Christmas stocking. It’s made using the Modern Classics stocking pattern by Nina Issacson. I got this pattern and the yarn as a kit from KnitPicks several years ago, just a few months after I had started my PhD program. The kit contained enough yarn for three stockings. I made mine and Aidan’s right after buying the kit and then patiently held onto the extra yarn until Jude was here.

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In the intervening years, I’ve actually made seven other versions of this pattern. Two for my in-laws and five for Aidan’s sister’s family. I reached max burnout on this pattern approximately three stockings ago, but felt like I was locked in and had to keep making them.

At this point, I feel complicated about these stockings. The complicated feelings have nothing to do with the pattern itself, which is perfectly fine. I love the way our family stockings look hanging all together. Aidan also really loves them.

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But I still vividly remember knitting the first two stockings for Aidan and I when I was deep in the middle of a crushing bout of depression and struggling to stay afloat during my first semester of PhD coursework. I knit these stockings pretty quickly, but only because I couldn’t get myself off the couch to do anything else. It was knitting as a form of numbing, and I still feel it a bit when I look at them.

The progressive burnout of knitting this pattern ten times only adds to the uninspired feelings. But now the big kicker is that I ever wanted to knit another stocking to match our family stockings for any future family member, the yarn that came with the original kit (Knitpicks Telemark) has been completely discontinued. It’s also not widely stashed on Ravelry, so finding some to buy from another knitter seems unlikely. So the best I would be able to do to try to match it is find a similar color in a similar base. And I have a feeling that even the closest match would result in a fourth stocking that is just off enough to drive me crazy.

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But that’s not a situation that is immediately before me, so it’s not something I’m actually worried about. For now, we’re enjoying another Christmas season with our matching stockings hanging in the hallway.

Alex & Anna Winter PJs

Back in the beginning of October, I decided I would take a month to sew up a few things for Jude. He had just received a bunch of new clothes for his birthday, but only had a couple of pairs of pajamas in his current size so I pulled some fabrics from my stash and cut out five pairs of pjs.

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I ended up putting the pajamas aside for a while when we realized that Jude didn’t have quite enough pants to get him through the week. And then we got some hand-me-downs from my office mate that made the need for new pajamas less urgent so I got deep into Halloween sewing. But after a bit of a detour, I’m happy to say that all the pajamas are done and frequent rotation.

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This is the Alex and Anna Winter PJs from Peek-a-boo Patterns, which I’ve used in the past to make pajamas for my nephews and my godson. I cut the 2T for Jude, which fits well with a bit of room to grow. The red dog print, the cat print, and the bug print fabric are all cotton interlock from Cloud 9 Fabrics. The ninjas are a Kaufman Laguna jersey print leftover from my nephews’ pajamas, and the airplanes are a cotton-Spandex blend from Riley Blake. All of the cuffs and neckbands are cut from Kaufman Laguna solids.

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I’m pretty happy with the finished pajamas. The fabrics are all soft and more substantial than the jersey used to make most store-bought pajamas. And store-bought pajamas are cut so slim that it is a struggle to get Jude’s arms sleeves, while these are much easier to get on. But I’m definitely less in love with this pattern than I was when I used it a couple of years ago.

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The pattern doesn’t have the grainline marked on any of the pieces (which is especially a problem for the pattern piece for the pants since it isn’t cut on the fold) and it also doesn’t have any notches to help with construction. It’s not as though it’s impossible to get the pattern cut out and put together without these things, but having them there would definitely make the construction that much easier.

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But the thing I found really off-putting this time was the shape of the sleeve cap. I feel like I have enough familiarity with knit patterns that the shape looks off to me, but I don’t have enough knowledge to articulate exactly what seems wrong with it. What I do know is that it’s much harder to set in evenly than I think it should be—I actually found it impossible to sew the sleeves in with my serger and had to use my regular machine. The sleeve cap shape also results in a bit of a weird bump at the armscye—it’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone else, but I notice it and it bugs me.

The next time I make Jude some pajamas, I think I might pair the pants from this pattern with the Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae and see if that works out better. Still, I’m happy to have these done, happy to have used up a good bit of stash fabric, and happy to see Jude in his mama-made pajamas.

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Picking Daisies Shawl

This Picking Daisies Shawl from Melanie Berg was my summer knitting project. I cast on in May shortly after turning in my grades for the spring semester. In the past, I would have churned my way through several projects over the summer, but my desire to knit this summer was quieter and more intermittent. So I just concentrated my limited energy on working slowly and steadily, and I finally bound off the day before the Autumn Equinox.

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The yarn came as a kit from Craftsy, which I bought myself for my birthday because I enjoyed knitting and wearing my Drachenfels Shawl so much.  The kit came with four skeins of Cloudborn Fibers Merino, which is a fingering weight merino single from Craftsy’s in house yarn line. I basically wanted to reproduce the shawl as it appeared in one of the sample photos on Craftsy, so I picked the colors that seemed closest—Charcoal Heather, Light Gray Heather, and Magenta.

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The gray striped section of the shawl is very easy knitting that is perfect for picking up and putting down. The clustered stitch pattern used to knit up the magenta yarn was obviously more complex than the simple garter and slip stitch patterns used elsewhere in the shawl. But it wasn’t terribly tricky to complete and it was really satisfying to watch it come together. Plus, after so much garter stitch in gray yarn, the more complicated cluster stitches were a welcome relief. The most tedious thing about this pattern was dealing with all of the ends that needed weaving in. I’m glad I had the foresight to stop a few times in the process of knitting this and weave in the ends I had produced at that point—it made finishing the shawl a little less painful.

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When I bound off the shawl, the clustered stitch sections were pretty bunched up and, in their relaxed state, were probably a good three inches narrower than the surrounding garter sections. It was clear that it needed aggressive blocking to get a good finish, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered some blocking wires. Getting the shawl laid out with the blocking wires took a long time and felt pretty tedious, but the result is totally worth it. I was able to completely open up the cluster stitch pattern and even out all the sides of the shawl. And now that it’s been blocked, it feels soft and drapey and lovely to wear.

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2018 has unexpectedly turned out to be the year of the knitting tool for me. Since January, I’ve bought a swift, ball winder, scale, sock blockers in my size and Aidan’s, wool wash, blocking mats, new birch DPNs for knitting sleeves, new stainless steel 16” circular needles for hat knitting, locking stitch markers, and blocking wires. I think I finally had an epiphany this year and realized that investing in good sewing tools had made for a much better sewing experience, and that it was kind of ridiculous that I was still knitting like I was a broke college student/beginner knitter. Obviously, none of these things is necessary (I’ve managed to get through more than a decade of knitting with cheap or improvised tools), but they definitely make for a nicer experience. Maybe at some point I’ll actually upgrade from the Fiskars safety scissors I keep in my notions pouch!

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Mukava Jeans for Jude (Ottobre 1/2018 #16)

I made tiny jeans! Even though I’ve already made myself a pair of jeans with all the traditional details, it still feels like a sewing victory to whip up a little pair streamlined pull-on toddler jeans. These little jeans are actually one of my favorite sewing projects from the fall. They came together quickly, offered the sweet satisfaction of top-stitching, and turned out even cuter than I had imagined.

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As part of my effort to make sure that Jude has enough pants to get him through the cold season, I wanted to make him some jeans to balance out his collection of sweatpants. In general, I want his clothes to be as comfortable as possible and to not restrict his movement in any way. But a pair of jeans seems to come in handy for situations like picture day and can still be comfortable in stretch denim and an easy fit.

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I decided to use the Mukava Jeans pattern from Ottobre 1/2018, which is the same issue that had the Hippa Sweatpants pattern I blogged earlier. (Out of curiosity, I like to translate the Finnish pattern names. Google Translate tells me that “mukava” means “nice.”) The pattern has a faux fly and elasticated waistband, but otherwise have traditional jeans details like functional front and back pockets, top-stitching, and belt loops, although I decided not to attach them.

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Working with toddler models: the struggle is real.

I sewed these up in a dark stretch denim I already had in my stash. I bought three yards of this fabric from Girl Charlee a few years ago, but never got around to actually making myself jeans with it because it is quite stretchy and I didn’t think it would have enough recovery for my needs. I typically wear my jeans for about a  week before washing them, so I don’t want to bother sewing up a pair of jeans that are just going to completely bag out after the first wear. Jude’s clothes, however, need to be washed after basically every wear and I figured that the extra stretch in the fabric would just mean that the resulting jeans would be all the more comfortable.

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Although I hadn’t actually made myself jeans with this fabric, I had bought top-stitching thread to use with it. And I was able to use some leftover scraps of quilting cotton from the weighted blanket I made my nephew for the pocket facings, so everything for this project came directly from my stash. And these little jeans only took .75 yards of fabric, which means that I have plenty left over to make him more when he outgrows this pair.

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I sewed up the size 80, which is the smallest size for this particular pattern and the size that most closely matches Jude’s current height. If you’re not familiar with Ottobre Kids sizing, the instructions suggest choosing a size based on a child’s height and then altering the width of the pattern if necessary. So far, I haven’t found it necessary to make any fit adjustments for Jude’s size. I do think that this particular pattern has a roomier fit than the Tiny Fan Pants and the Hippa Sweatpants, which are also both a size 80. Jude is able to wear the jeans cuffed right now and they have a relaxed straight fit, but he has enough room in the waist and hips and enough length in the legs to be able to wear these through his next growth spurt, I think. And that is not a complaint—these weren’t super time-intensive to sew, but I’d still prefer that he be able to wear them for a good bit, especially since he will probably wear these more rarely than his comfier sweatpants.

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As is generally the case for me, I thought the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. They do suggest that you just sew all the seams with top-stitching thread so you don’t have to keep switching the thread on your machine, but I thought that was kind of ridiculous so I ignored it. Switching thread doesn’t take long and seems less onerous than the frustrations that would inevitably arise with trying to sew everything with top-stitching thread. I also ignored the instructions for the waistband, which recommended the same method used in the Hippa Sweatpants that didn’t work out for me at all.

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Instead of basting parts of the elastic to the waistband and stretching it as I top-stitched the waistband in place, I did the following:

  • I partially sewed the end of the waistband together, starting at one end and sewing to roughly the halfway point.
  • I pressed the waist band in half, and also pressed the seam allowances for the open part of the waistband seam to the side.
  • I serged the waistband to the top of the jeans, positioning it so that the open part of the waistband would ultimately be on the inside of the jeans once the waist seam was pressed in place.
  • I finished the waist seam and top-stitched below the seam, catching the seam allowance in the process.
  • Then I cut my elastic to size and threaded it through the elastic casing. I stitched the ends of the elastic together and then whip stitched the opening in the waistband closed.

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It kills me every time Jude wears his jeans. They are so cute! And they have definitely given me the itch to make myself another pair. I just have to make some time and find some higher quality denim. But if that doesn’t happen before he outgrows these, I will happily whip up a second pair of Mukavas.

Ottobre Kids: Tiny Fan Pants (4/2016 #4) and Hippa Sweatpants (1/2018 #19)

I didn’t sew anything for Jude during his first year, partly because I just wasn’t really finding any sewing time but also because I just didn’t have the desire. He got a ton of cute clothes as gifts and hand-me-downs, he outgrew everything in a matter of months (as babies do), and most practical baby clothing requires snaps and I had no desire to invest in a snap setter.

After we took stock of all the cute outfits he received for his birthday, we realized he could use a few more pairs of pants and some pajamas for colder nights, and I thought, “That’s easy enough to make.” And now, in the course of a couple of months, I’ve gone from not having sewn him anything to having made him three pairs of pants, five sets of pajamas, and a Halloween costume. At some point, I wondered if I would ever feel compelled to sew clothes for him, but now I feel like I could happily keep cranking out tiny clothes and I have to stop myself from buying up a bunch of cute fabric.

 

 

My stint of kid sewing started with two pairs of basic pants, both made with stashed fabrics and patterns from Ottobre Design. The first pair were these little navy joggers, which are made using the Tiny Fan Jersey Pants pattern (#4) from Ottobre 4/2016, and sewn up in Kaufman Laguna jersey (a cotton-Spandex blend). I wanted pants that would fit him right now, so I sewed a straight size 80, which is the size that most closely matches his current height, and the fit is perfect.

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The pattern is really just a basic jersey pant with a folded elastic casing waist and cuffed legs. But nearly every seam is top-stitched, adding a bit more visual detail and making them feel like more than a basic pair of pajama pants. The directions suggest using either a cover stitch machine or decorative stitch for the topstitching—I have a decorative stitch on my machine that, to my eye, looks a bit like the cover stitching often done on athletic wear.

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Doing all of the top-stitching takes more time than just zipping every seam through the serger, and it also required a slightly unconventional construction order. That was only a problem when I accidentally attached one of the leg cuffs to the waist. I didn’t recognize the problem until I had completely sewn the seam using a lightening stitch AND topstitched the seam. There was no way I was ripping that stitching out (it was unlikely the fabric would have survived it anyway), so I had to recut and resew one of the legs. But that’s not a big deal when the pieces are so small.

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I’ve been sewing little pieces of red cotton twill tape into the waistband to easily distinguish front from back. So far, he hasn’t come home from daycare with his pants on backwards, so it seems to be working.

After the Tiny Fan pants, I used the leftover sweatshirt fleece from the Ottobre Woman hoodie I made myself a couple of years ago to make Jude an adorable pair of hipster sweatpants. This is the Hippa Sweatpants pattern (#19) from the Spring 1/2018 issue. They are slim-cut sweat pants with front slash pockets and little cargo pockets on the legs. These again are a size 80, and I love the fit on Jude.

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The directions were easy to follow overall, and these came together pretty quickly despite the extra details. There are sew-in snaps on the cargo pocket flaps to keep them in place. My only quibble with the directions were with the waistband. They advise you to sew your elastic in a circle, quarter it, and then baste the elastic to the waist of the pants at the quarter points. Then you fold the waistband over and you are supposed to stretch the elastic as you top-stitch the waistband in place.

Ottobre 1/2018 #19 Hippa Sweatpants

This didn’t work at all for me. I had to stretch the elastic a lot and felt like I had very little control over the fabric as I was sewing, and the result was a waistband that was just a massive eyesore. I ended up ripping out my initial attempt at sewing the waist, which took forever because the stitches were so tiny due to all the tension from trying to stretch the elastic as I sewed.

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On my second try, I stretched and basted the entire length of the elastic to the top of the waist with a regular zigzag stitch. Then I folded the waistband over and used a lot of pins to help more evenly stretch the elastic and distribute the fabric for the waistband. The result isn’t perfect, but I felt like I had a lot more control and ended up with a much more even (and less hideous) waist. I skipped the fake drawstring because I didn’t have any twill tape on hand that would work and was feeling pretty done with the pants at that point.

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But the result is totally adorable—comfortable and cute. He looks like he’s ready to go play soccer with his friends. I love these so much that I would eagerly make him another pair in a larger size. But next time, I think I’ll just create a fold-over waist casing and thread the elastic through.

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I get the Ottobre Woman and Family issues, but I haven’t actually subscribed to Ottobre Kids yet—I’ve just bought a few random back issues. Upgrading to the full subscription is on my to-do list for the beginning of 2019 though. I just love these patterns. They are basic enough that they are comfortable and easy to wear, but they also have such great details. And they are one of the few places where you can find a great balance of boys, girls, and unisex designs.  Every issue I look at makes me want to fall down another kid sewing rabbit hole.

Santa Fe Tops

I’ve had a three-yard cut of black rayon-spandex jersey in my stash that has been taunting me for years. I hate sewing rayon-spandex jersey. It is shifty and floppy and impossible to cut out and fidgety to sew together, even with a serger. So I stopped buying it a long time ago, and had rooted all of it from my stash except this one remaining piece. I wear so much black jersey that a big cut of the stuff seemed too practical to get rid of, even if it was in a substrate that I didn’t like working with.

Hey June Santa Fe Top View C

When I was making my Avery leggings, I was finally inspired to just use the fabric up—I realized that I didn’t have great options for shirts to wear with my leggings and that some loose fitting black tees would make for a perfect combo. I decided to use the Hey June Santa Fe top. I thought the loose fit would be a good match for the rayon-spandex, given its ultra-clingy nature, and I liked that the pattern had several different views so I could make two different shirts without needing to pull out two different patterns.

In the end I decided to make View B, which is the tank top with the higher cut neckline, and View C which has cuffed, cut-on sleeves. I powered through cutting the pattern pieces out and, from there, the sewing was pretty straight-forward. I decided to press the center front and center back seams on both tops flat and then top-stitch on either side of the seam. It was more time-consuming and the top-stitching isn’t very visible but I prefer the way this approach helps control the seam allowance at these points.

Hey June Santa Fe Top View B

The necklines of both tops and the armholes of the tank top are all finished with a knit binding, which I actually prefer to a band finish. I just find that binding wears a bit better over time and actually seems a bit less tricky to sew. The pattern even calls for my preferred binding method, which made things that much easier.

My current bust measurement is 43”, so I made a straight 1X in both tops and sewed both views as is. I’m happy with the fit and feel of both tops and I know that I’ll get a ton of wear out of them. I’m also really happy to finally have that fabric out of my stash. Good riddance!