Summer in Review

Since we’re approaching the Fall Equinox and since it’s been a long time since I updated my blog, I thought it might be a nice idea to do a quick review of all the things I made over the summer. I’ve been a bit overloaded with work since the beginning of the year, and that continued straight through the summer unfortunately. So I don’t feel like I got as much accomplished in the craft room, both because I was limited on time and feeling pretty burned out and uninspired. The fall semester is still loaded up with more work than I’d like and I don’t feel like I’ve been able to get the kind of break I really need yet this year. But towards the end of summer, I finally realized that I wasn’t managing my stress level well and have been making efforts to walk myself back from the point of burn out. And the result is that I am feeling more inspired, getting more knitting and sewing done, and probably just being generally more pleasant to be around. Lol.

Sewing

I started my summer sewing with a few projects for Jude—a beach robe, a cute banana print camp shirt, and a pair of shorts to go with the shirt. I even managed to blog all of those projects! Jude went through a growth spurt around his second birthday in August, so the banana shirt doesn’t fit anymore, but he got quite a few wears out of it before it was too small. The shorts are still in rotation, which is good since our daily temperatures are still regularly in the 80-90 degree range. And the beach robe has been super handy throughout the summer and should still fit next summer as well.

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I also managed to make a few things for myself, starting with a few pairs of pajama pants for myself. I’ve been wanting to find a tried-and-trued pj pant pattern for myself that fit fairly easily without needing a ton of adjustments. The patterns I’ve tried in the past have been those unisex patterns that the Big 4 pattern companies release regularly, but they never work well for my body. But then patterns that get rave reviews and have the kind of fit and details that I like (I’m thinking of the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs here) often don’t come in my size. So I decided to try the Loungewear PJ Pant pattern from Style Arc and it’s a total winner. It’s fits great—no alterations needed at all for me. It has a single back pocket, which is perfect because I get annoyed by the bulk of inseam pockets but still want someplace to stash my phone. I didn’t take any pictures of the two pairs that I made, but I used a linen-cotton blend for the first and a cotton voile for the second. I ditched the pattern instructions for waistband for the second pair and made a classic waistband casing he second pair are basically my dream pair of summer pajama pants. I highly recommend this pattern, and I’m planning to use it to make myself a flannel pj set in the fall so I’ll make sure to get photos next time!

Chambray Kalle Shirt

I also made myself a Kalle shirt using some chambray I’ve had in my stash for a long time and finished it just in time to wear it for the first day of fall classes. This project felt like such a victory. I have felt so intimated by the idea of fitting and sewing a shirt like this, and my attempt at sewing the Willamette last summer didn’t work out so well. But I love this shirt, and I can’t wait to make another version or two next summer. I’m planning to get some better pictures of this so that I can write up a full post with all of my project details.

Knitting

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I’ve been in a massive knitting funk this year—I just haven’t had any inspiration or motivation at all and a lot of the things that I made in the first part of the year just didn’t turn out to my standards. But starting in July or August, I got motivated to pick my needles back up again. I finished a pair of socks using the Rye Light pattern from TinCan Knits. I know I bought this yarn in December from my LYS, but I didn’t record it on Ravelry and then promptly lost the ball band so I have no idea what it is. I also finished all of the knitting on the Chicane Sweater by Cookie A using a soft black yarn that has been in my stash for a long time. I still need to block it and sew in the zipper, but I’ll write up a full post about that project once it’s completely done. And finally, I knit up the Little Dino pattern from Susan B. Anderson. I’m not planning to create a separate post for that project, but I got the pattern and yarn as part of a kit from Barrett Wool Co and it was a delightful knitting experience. I have such a weakness for her toy kits—the temptation to buy every one she releases is intense!

Other Things

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Jude turned 2 this August, so of course I made him another birthday cake. He is absolutely fascinated by garbage and recycling—he loves to throw things away, to sort recycling, take the trash to the curb, watch the garbage collectors dump it in the trucks, pretend to be a garbage collector, find the trash and recycling containers at every place we visit, etc. So obviously his cake had to be trash-themed. Unfortunately, the confetti cake recipe I tried did not work out at all (it end up with a texture more like a cookie than a cake) so I ended up using a Funfetti box mix, which was perfectly delicious and Jude was very excited about his cake.

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I also finally finished up a cross-stitch project that I started before Jude was even born. My left wrist is prone to bouts of pain from certain repetitive activities. Regular knitting doesn’t bother it, but it shows up if I crochet or cross-stitch or do two-fisted colorwork knitting. So I don’t usually have a lot of motivation to do needlework but I decided to pick this up and risk the pain because I finally got moved into a private office on my campus and I wanted to be able to hang this on my office wall. Totally worth it! The pattern is from Satsuma Street.

So that’s the full review of my summer making. I’ve got a long list of fall projects I’d like to make, and I’ve even managed to cross a few items off the list already. I’m planning to start posting here more regularly—I just need to tackle the problem of getting photos. I was setting up a tripod and using a camera remote previously but it’s just too time-consuming and cumbersome to work anymore. I think I either need to rope Aidan into taking pictures for me or get a remote and tripod that will work with the camera on my phone so I can easily take pictures in my office where the lighting is better. We’ll see what happens!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Jude’s Beach Robe

Like the Montessori-Style Apron I recently posted about, this was another quick and easy project that was meant to be fun and bright to keep me excited about sewing after a long lull. This is the Beach Robe pattern from MADE Everyday. I’ve made this pattern three times before—I made two shortly after I started sewing for our godson and our oldest nephew, and then made a third a few years later when our twin nephews grew into the robe I’d made for their brother and needed a second so neither of them had to go naked.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

The pattern is meant to be a beach/swimming cover up, and I appreciate the wisdom of this approach even more now that I’ve tried in vain to convince a cold and shivering toddler to hold still long enough to get dried off and warmed up by a towel. Like the others I’ve made before, I used two of the thinnest bath towels I could get from Target, some basic packaged bias tape, and some quilting cotton from JoAnn’s for the hood lining. I made the 18 month – 3T size, which I’m hoping will fit Jude well for the next couple of summers, and I made the option with the half-ties and short sleeves.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

As I think I’ve said before when I’ve made this pattern, this pattern is very easy except for the bias binding, which is pretty tricky to manage around the robe ties. I’m happy to say that I got a really nice result with the robe ties this time, with no tucks or puckers around the curve of the ties. However, it’s taken me four rounds with the pattern and five years of sewing to get to that point. The pattern also recommends sewing the bias binding in a single step by just sandwiching the robe fabric between the binding and sewing it down, and I think this is a completely bananas recommendation and a recipe for infinite frustration. I have always sewn it in two steps like I would for any other project.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

I sewed the sleeves in flat, attached the sleeve binding after I’d sewed up the side seams, and finished all of the seams with my serger. I sewed the first two robes I made from this pattern before I owned a serger, and I have to say that this is a project where the serger really does produce a better finishing result. Serging the seams together is easiest, most efficient, and cleanest way to contain all of the towel fluff and to control the bulk of the seams.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

Unfortunately, the weather has been pretty terrible since I finished this, so Jude hasn’t actually had a chance to use it as a swimming cover up yet. But he did try it on for me after I finished it and danced around the living room in it, so I’d say it’s a win. 🙂

 

A Montessori-Style Apron for Jude

The first part of this year seemed to yield a high number of sewing and knitting frustrations for me. Projects weren’t turning out well, my motivation to sew or knit was pretty low, I didn’t have any project ideas that were inspiring me. This seems to happen to me every so often—I fall into a kind of funk where creative activity seems to grind to a halt, and it’s hard to get started up again. These lulls tend to happen when things are out of balance for me, which was definitely the case throughout the first part of the year when I was overloaded with work.

Farm Print Montessori-Style Apron

In those moments where making things just stops feeling fun, I really like to find a super easy, super quick project to make. Basically, I start looking for a really easy win—and bonus points if it can be made with a bright quilting cotton print. Around my spring break, Jude had started to get really excited about helping me cook and bake, so I decided to make him a little kitchen apron. This definitely met the criteria for easy and quick. I think I was able to sew this up in just one or two of my usual 20-minute evening sewing sessions. There was no fitting, no fiddly sewing techniques required, and the fabric is full of silly cartoon farm animals.

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I used the free Montessori-style apron pattern available from Sew Liberated. I was drawn to the Montessori-style apron because the Velcro strap and elasticated neck make it easy to get on and off a wiggly toddler. Jude doesn’t have the motor skills to put this on by himself yet, but he can easily take it off when he doesn’t want to wear it anymore. The fabric is from JoAnn’s. While I was getting the fabric cut, the woman at the cutting counter was completely charmed and took a few minutes to look over the fabric and take in all the cute animal scenes. It really is the print that keeps giving, although the woman cutting my fabric was a bit concerned that it looked like the pigs were being fed molten lava. Lol.

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The apron comes in a single size that it meant to fit children from ages 3-6. Jude was 18 months old when I made this, and I was a bit worried that the apron size would overwhelm him a bit so I printed the pattern out at 95% and then adjusted the lengths of the neck and back straps by cutting them at 95% of the recommended length. (See, kids—you really will use those math skills in your adult life.) The size is perfect for him right and will still be able to grow with him for a good bit.

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I honestly wasn’t sure how Jude would feel about wearing an apron. I don’t wear an apron while I cook, so I wouldn’t have the appeal of “looking like mama” on my side if he didn’t want to put it on. But it turns out that he loves it. If I ask him if he wants to get his stool out and help me cook, the first thing he does is grab his apron. And sometimes, he’ll ask to put it on and he’ll just wear it around the house while he plays. He is basically an agent of chaos in the kitchen (as any kid under 2 is, I’m sure), so it’s not like his apron is enough to keep him from getting messy. But it definitely helps cut down on the number of outfit changes required, and he looks so cute while he’s wearing it that it makes it even more fun to have him in the kitchen with me.

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A quick and easy project like this wasn’t enough to magically get me deep into sewing again, but it was a nice way to remember the fun of sewing and offered a moment of relief in the face of my other sewing frustrations. And I’ll take that any day.

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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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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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.

My Little Duckling: Simplicity 2788

I hadn’t really planned to make Jude a Halloween costume this year. I figured I would wait to make him a costume until he was old enough to choose what he wanted to be or old enough to actually go trick or treating or old enough to even, you know, roughly understand the concept of Halloween. And then I found myself at Joann’s buying a pattern and a bunch of fleece and suddenly I was making a tiny duck costume that might be one of the most involved sewing projects I’ve ever taken on.

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Sewing really takes you on a journey, doesn’t it?

Simplicity 2788 Toddler Duck Costume

This is Simplicity 2788, View E. The pattern includes a jumpsuit, a puffy body worn over the jumpsuit, little duck feet, and a duck hat. I decided to alter the jumpsuit, basically cutting it off at the waist and then sewing a little pair of leggings in my accent fabric. I honestly can’t remember exactly why I did this but I think I was mostly concerned that the orange cotton interlock I bought for the legs wouldn’t work well for the jumpsuit. Regardless, it was an easy alteration to make. I also lengthened the arms of the jumpsuit top so that I could add an elastic casing at the sleeve hem. This just meant that I didn’t have to track down a coordinating fabric with enough stretch for the sleeve cuffs originally called for in the pattern.

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The jacket, the hat, and the body of the duck are all made in fleece. I used a yard of yellow cotton interlock I already had in my stash for the lining of the body and the lining of the hat, and the bottom of the duck feet are actually cut from Jiffy Grip. The only other change I made was to add ties to the hat—I just attached a length of white cotton twill tape to either side of the hat while I was attaching the outer fabric to the lining. Like most babies, I imagine, Jude is not a fan of hats and I knew there was no way the hat would last for more the 60 seconds without some ties. But even if he wasn’t likely to tear the hat off, I think it benefits from the ties. Since the hat is a bit shallow and isn’t elasticated at the back at all, it seems like it sits on his head more than fitting snugly. I also wish that I had made the lining pieces for the hat a bit shorter–I think that since the interlock is stretchier than the fleece, the lining is pretty loose and there is a significant amount of extra lining fabric inside the hat.

 

I made the size 1, which most closely matches Jude’s current height, and the hat is the size small. I’m happy with the way that everything fits. Although this costume involves a handful of different components, the sewing was pretty straight-forward and the pattern instructions were clear. The most tedious and time-consuming part of the project was cutting everything out. The body, for instance, involves the main fabric and the lining but also has another layer of fleece between the two for extra padding. All in all, the whole costume required at least 3.5 yards of fabric, which seems kind of bananas when we’re talking about a costume for a 14 month old. I’m not a fast sewist, but I’m also not particularly slow, and making the whole costume took me at least a week and a half of naptime sewing on the weekends and 30-40 minute sewing sessions on the weeknights.

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There were lots of times that I thought I was being ridiculous for making a whole costume for Jude, especially during mid-terms when I probably should have been doing more work in the evenings. But I had a lot of fun doing it and he looked super cute in his costume at his school Halloween party. And when I went to the Simplicity website to remind myself of the pattern number for this blog post, I was reminded of all the other adorable toddler Halloween costume patterns they have available.

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I mean, that kangaroo!? Can’t wait until next October. 😀

Weighted Blanket

I finished making a weighted blanket for my nephew at the beginning of June and then immediately started dreading the process of blogging it. So ridiculous. I think I just got completely bogged down by the idea of having to describe the whole process, step-by-step—especially since it was kind of an involved process. And then, I remembered that I don’t actually have to do that if I don’t want to. What a novel idea!

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Here’s what I have the energy to offer in terms of describing what I did:

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I was frankly worried that the process of making this blanket would just feel tedious and unending, but I actually really enjoyed working on this project. I think there were a couple of factors that made this a fairly fun project to work on. First, I’d never made a blanket like this before and didn’t have a specific pattern that I was working with, so planning the project and piecing together tips and tricks to get this made was a refreshing challenge. (I think I really enjoyed working on the baby quilt I made for Jude for the same reason.) Second, I was wise enough to tell my sister-in-law that I wouldn’t be able to work on this project at all until summer when my classes were all finished, so I was able to wait to start making the blanket until I was able to really delve into the project and enjoy the longer sewing sessions. And third, I was making a blanket for a very small child—my nephew is only thirty pounds right now and the finished blanket ended up being about five pounds. A bigger blanket definitely would have been more of a pain.

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Weighted blankets (which can have therapeutic benefits for people with anxiety, insomnia, sensory processing disorders, ADD/ADHD, and Autism) are getting more and more popular, but they are pretty expensive. The sticker shock is a lot to take in, especially if you are already in the position of paying for other therapies and treatments. And it’s all the more shocking if you are thinking of it as “just a blanket.” But it’s really not just a blanket. Filing the blanket is time intensive, and the materials required definitely cost more than your average throw. And the guidelines for how heavy the blanket should be can mean that you need something that is custom made.

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But the feeling of the blanket once it’s completely filled and finished is really unique—it has a heavy drape that puts just a light, even pressure all over your body that is really calming. I found myself kind of wishing I had an adult-sized blanket, but I definitely do not have the patience or desire to make one for myself. My nephew loves the blanket. And I love him, so I will happily make him another when he outgrows this one.

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Right after I finished the blanket, my 16-year-old sister came to stay with us for a week. I took her to Joann’s, bought her some fabric, printed off some PDF patterns for her, and she spent nearly the whole week working away in my sewing room. Nearly every day, I’d give her the option of going out somewhere or spending more time sewing, and she always chose sewing. I gave her very light guidance—she primarily worked through the instructions on her own, made mistakes, found ways to fix them herself, and learned a lot in the process. In the end, she made a Plantain tee, two Halifax hoodies, and a few pairs of underwear. I’m so proud of her!