Little Smart Summer Shirt and Kid Shorts

Last summer, I had hoped to sew Jude an outfit for his first birthday party. I had the fabric already and was in the process of picking out patterns when I realized that my time was limited and making him an outfit was just not a priority (especially when a package showed up from my mom with a perfectly-cute monkey-themed outfit he could wear instead).

Kid Shorts and Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

The camp shirt patterns in the summer kids issue of Ottobre reminded me of my previous plans, and now I’ve finally made the little banana outfit I originally envisioned. As is typical with the Ottobre kids issues (at least with the boys’ patterns), they have a version of a basic camp shirt to fit their whole kids range—one in their infants/toddler sizes, one in smaller kids sizes, and one in larger kids sizes. I really love it when they do this with a basic, workhorse style. It’s nice to know that once Jude grows out of a pattern I’ve used, there is likely a larger version available in the same style. And I think they do a nice job of adjusting the details for the larger sizes so they have a touch more sophistication to appeal to older kids’ tastes. In short, I have endless love for Ottobre. This is nothing new.

Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

Anyway. Jude is still at the top end of their infants range, so this is the Little Smart Summer Shirt (#8) from Ottobre 03/2019. I cut a size 86 based on my vague memory of his height at his 18 month well-child visit in February. In other words, I probably should have actually measured him again but was too lazy. Luckily, it fits him pretty perfectly right now, but it will definitely be a one-season-only garment.  I think he’ll be ready for a size 92 in the fall, which seems to open up a whole new slew of pattern possibilities from Ottobre, so I’m very excited about that.

IMG_0022

The instructions for this pattern were not the greatest. I mean, I still think Ottobre instructions are miles ahead of, say, Burda or Style Arc. But even with a close read, this pattern required some improvising and I felt like some of the instructions came out of order so it’s worth reading them all through very closely before you begin. The pattern wants you to hem the outer edge of the facing, which I was not interested in doing. I ended up just cutting away the seam allowance I’d added to the piece (per the instructions) and serging the edge to keep it clean. The pattern also calls for horizontal buttonholes and only 4 buttons, which didn’t seem like enough to me. I made vertical buttonholes and ending up using 6 buttons.

IMG_0127

He is definitely telling me about the trash cans in this picture. Jude is quite passionate about trash and recycling right now.

The fabric for the shirt is a Cotton + Steel cotton lawn print from a couple of years ago. I had 2 yards of this fabric in my stash and used way less than that for this shirt, so Jude might get a duplicate shirt next summer. It was really easy to work with and is incredibly soft.

IMG_0032

The shorts are made from some gray Kaufman Brussels linen blend fabric I’ve had in my stash for several years. I used the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday–I cut a 2T and made the view with the lined pockets (using the banana print fabric for the fabric lining) and the fully elasticated waist. I think I’m done with this pattern for the time being. While it’s a perfectly fine pattern, I’m not in love with the fit and, more importantly, really hate that there aren’t instructions with the pattern. You have to track down the tutorial posts the pattern designer published on her blog, which also means having to click around to different posts to reference the instructions for different pattern views. Obviously, constructing a basic pair of shorts isn’t difficult but that’s all the more reason I don’t want to have to do that kind of work to remind myself of the pattern’s hem allowance or whether or not the pocket seams have a different seam allowance than the rest of the shorts. The next time I make Jude a pair of shorts, I think I’m just going to try the Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver & S.

IMG_0182

Still, this outfit turned out really cute. Jude wore this when we took his granddad and his aunt Sarah to the zoo on a very hot and sunny day. This outfit kept him cool and he looked very sweet in it. He already has plenty of clothes to get him through this season, but I’m going to have to make him more shirts like this next summer!

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.

IMG_6829

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.

IMG_6833

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.

IMG_6908

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.

IMG_6916

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.

IMG_6968

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.

IMG_6834

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.

IMG_6830

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.

IMG_6902

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.

stitch

img_6553

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.

img_6538

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.

img_6552

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.

img_6527

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.

img_67631

 

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.

IMG_6863

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.

IMG_6858

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.