It’s a free pattern, and great for using up any too-big-to-throw-away-but-not-all-that-useful-really scraps of cotton fabric you have left over – it’s ideal for all those fabulous printed quilting cottons, too. I chose leftovers from the lining of a Schooldays Jacket and my husband’s Fairfield shirt. This gives the hat a sensible side and a silly side – something that seems to run in our family… and anything reversible is automatically exciting to a preschooler.
The instructions are good for a free pattern, and anyone except an absolute beginner could zip through this fairly easily. The only disappointing thing is the sizing – my son is four, and I sewed the largest size, but it’s only just big enough for him. Admittedly, his RTW sunhat is labelled age 7-10, but I’d love it if this pattern would cover him for a bit longer. There are only three pattern pieces, so I might possibly venture into grading if I can find a good tutorial online.
You could have all sorts of fun with this pattern, playing around with trims, colour blocking, piping and so on – there are some great examples on the Oliver and S blog (follow the links at the bottom of the tutorial page). Go, on make a whole stack of them for your favourite small person.
I love the idea of this pattern, but I can’t quite get it working for me.
My first one was a bit tight across the chest and the arms, and this one (a large rather than a medium) is just a bit, well, meh. It’s not sweatshirty enough for slobbing around or smart enough for going out.
I used the leftover fabric from the first to try this second version and I had just enough to squeeze out the 3/4 length sleeved version.
Fit-wise, this one is much looser overall, but I’m now getting that tell-tale extra fabric just above the armpits (front and back) that reveals it’s too large at the upper bust.
It’s a bit big in the back and it doesn’t really nip in at the waist.
Plus the 3/4 length sleeves have come out more like 5/8, even though I added the same amount of length to these as I added to the full-length ones before – and those were way too long. (Why? Do I have oddly long upper arms and weirdly short forearms?!)
I’ve learnt some useful things: I do need an FBA, even in a C-cup pattern line like Colette/Seamwork. I should go back to the size M and add the extra room at the bust and on the arms. And I think it would be less meh –and more me – in a sweater knit or a ponte knit – I’m thinking a marled grey or a berry colour?
What do you think?
Can you recommend a great tutorial for an FBA on knits, and what’s the best EU-based online shop for sweater knits?
My little boy LIVES in T-shirts. He doesn’t have to wear a uniform for pre-school, so he puts on a t-shirt pretty much every day. Although he’s not quite four, he wears age 5-6 clothes so he’s grown out of some of the really fun prints and appliques you find for toddlers.
And although t-shirts can be found pretty cheaply on the high street, it’s really hard to find t-shirts for boys his size that feature something other than dinosaurs, sharks, superheroes, stereotyped messages, camouflage or vehicles. And in our house, we’re sick of all of those. For a pretentiously middle-class t-shirt that doesn’t feature any of these, the going rate seems to be £15 and up.
In my head, I think I should be the sort of mother who can easily whip up a batch of neatly made t-shirts with a custom fit in a selection of fun fabrics. It doesn’t seem to be that easy, but here’s my latest attempt.
This time I tried a dropped-shoulder, long-sleeved t-shirt pattern from Ottobre Kids issue 2015/1 on the site. My little boy has narrow shoulders and I wanted to see how a dropped-shoulder style would look on him.
I cut the pattern with no alterations to see how it would fit straight out of the envelope, and it turned out oddly long in the arms, so I think the shoulder was too wide still. It’s a little large on him, but the weirdest thing is that the neckline turned out a lot wider than you would usually get on a boys’ t-shirt. (Are Finnish children oddly broad in the shoulders with thick necks?) So I won’t use this pattern again for George.
The downside of using 100% cotton, of course, is that without some spandex content, the fabric doesn’t have great recovery. I did know this, but I got distracted by the lovely print and forgot. It’s also printed just ever so slightly off-grain – aaargh! Not a lot, but when I thread-traced down the grainline it definitely shifted across the print by around 1cm over 1m. Disappointing, at £19/m.
Sewing it up
I cut the pieces so there would be a complete line of pencils along the hem, and along the sleeve hems, and then sewed it up on the overlocker. As with the last Ottobre T-shirt I made, I ran into trouble with the binding. I’d love to know what I’m doing wrong here, but the pieces didn’t seem wide enough to do the job properly, and when I stretched both fabrics to sew it on as per the instructions, the cotton jersey didn’t recover and I ended up with a sort of lettuce edge on the neckline and both cuffs…
The sleeves were too long anyway, so I cut the binding off and just did a simple folded hem instead. (Well. I say simple, but the cuffs were too narrow to go around the 12″ circumference free arm on my machine, so I had to negotiate sewing them from the inside while stabbing myself with all the pins…)
To get the neckline back into shape, I ripped out the binding and switched it to a band instead. Then I washed and steamed the shirt furiously with the iron to get it to shrink back again. It seems to have worked, at least for now.
George loves the print and he’s got it on today, so I hope it’ll be popular.
Have you made t-shirts for your children? What fabrics and patterns would you recommend? And where can I source fun t-shirt prints that have enough stretch and enough recovery?
The only one I found was this Burda PDF pattern, which was reduced (so possibly soon to be discontinued?) It’s labelled as for boys, but obviously it would work for girls if you swapped the buttons to the opposite side. The sizing covers roughly ages 3-8. These had exactly the look I was going for, and as it was a PDF I could get started straight away. Hurrah.
I was slightly worried when I opened the PDF file and discovered there were no diagrams at all in the instructions. Never mind, I thought gaily, it’ll be fine – I’ve sewed lots of Big 4 patterns and I can probably use the Carolyn sewalong to help with the tricky bits.
I set to printing, cutting, sticking, tracing and re-tracing the pattern and adding seam allowances (yes, it’s one of those…). I used the same quilting cotton fabric as for the bottoms. Sadly, it’s not printed straight on the grain so I had some awkward choices about whether to go with the grain or the pattern in places and not everything matches up neatly. I made a batch of bright red piping to pick out one of the colours in the fabric and I love how cheerful it makes them.
When it came to sewing them up, these are the MOST minimalist instructions I’ve ever worked with.
“Set in sleeves.”
The pattern doesn’t tell you what to interface, or what diameter of piping to use, and it doesn’t even mention notching, clipping or staystitching – each of which is critical to getting the collar sewn on.
But where I really ran into trouble was where the piped, notched collar meets the lapel. On reflection, my piping cord was too thick. Then I carelessly missed off one of the pattern markings, leading to me cutting some of the piping too short and having to piece it. That made getting the collar lined up a bit of a nightmare and I’ve had to fudge it a bit. (And the Carolyn sewalong? It’s not a full sewalong, and it uses a slightly different facing method so I wasn’t able to crib much from it.)
I made one deliberate change to the design – my three-year old hasn’t mastered buttons yet, so the closing is done with Velcro instead – you can see the stitching for it on the front edge if you look closely. But he can now take the pyjamas on and off himself, so that’s all good.
I made the size 116cm (roughly age 5-6 – he’s tall), and it’s turned out a little broad in the shoulders, so next time I might make them narrower, or I could equally go down a size and add a bit of extra length in a loose-fitting garment like this.
Overall, it’s ended up as a borderline wearable toile, but given the trouble I had with this pattern, I’ll settle for that and hope to make a better fist of it next time. After all, he’s only going to grow.
Have you wrestled with any patterns that aren’t big on instructions? And where do you go for help with the awkward bits?
It’s finished! Two months after a beautiful box of fabrics arrived in the post from MARGE, I’ve sewn a silk and crepe dress. A big thank you to Sallee at TallGuides for inviting me to get involved in this, it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learnt a whole sackful of new skills.
I, and the other fabulously tall sewists who took part, have enjoyed mixing and matching the different fabrics and puzzling over how best to incorporate two of them into a new dress for summer – or winter in Allison’s case perhaps, as she’s in Oz! Tiffany, Allison and Beth have produced fabulous dresses, and I confess to being just a bit in awe of each of them.
I used view B from B6169, part of Liesl Gibson’s line for Butterick. I love pretty much everything Liesl does, and although this dress didn’t scream my name when it first came out, the pattern has everything I like in a relaxed summer dress.
The belt gives it shape – although you could leave this off for an easier life and use a RTW belt instead; it takes full advantage of any drape; and the gathered shape with no closures makes it fairly simple to construct. Princess seams make fitting easier (other than a swayback adjustment…) and the instructions are clear and straightforward for a Big 4 pattern. Plus it also includes a great-looking moto jacket that’s going on my list for the autumn.
I picked the rough side of the coral crepe and the pale pink spotted silk from the four fabrics we were all given. The colours are in my comfort zone, and I was fairly confident they’d combine well. Both were a little trickier to work with than I’d anticipated – the crepe creases like mad and doesn’t drape quite as much as I would like, and the spots on the silk drove me to distraction.
I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and especially because I was trying so many of the techniques for the first time. Cutting out was awkward – I sandwiched everything between two layers of tissue and cut with shears, which worked pretty well.
To sew up, I used the walking foot throughout. The crepe went through the machine without any problems, and I used my overlocker (serger) to finish the seams. The silk was tougher to sew – I switched to fine cotton thread and went down to a size 60 needle. Even so, I still needed tissue under the fabric to stop it being dragged into the feed dogs, and each time I hit one of the spots my seam line wobbled a bit. I used French seams on the yokes to seam and finish in one go. Both fabrics were tricky to press though: the silk wouldn’t press cleanly over the spots and the crepe didn’t stay pressed for long. But I got there in the end.
Overall, I love the relaxed feel of this dress and I think it works dressed up or down. I opted for down for these pictures, but I reckon a pair of heels and some bling would glam it up enough for a summer wedding or you could toughen it up with boots and that moto jacket.
As the final reveal for the #sewtallandcreative2017 design challenge approaches, I and the other three participants (Allison, Beth and Tiffany) have been working hard to complete our dresses. I am dying to see what they’ve made, and I’m not sure I can hold out until the end date of 20 May!
In my sewing room, I’ve been getting to grips – quite literally – with silk and slippery crepe we received from MARGE/Tall Guides.
I started by using a polyester crepe de chine to sew up a toile. This dress is fairly forgiving on fit, but I still made some alterations:
I added 1″ to the length above the waist
And another 1/2″ to the length between waist and hip
I took in the vertical back seams a little around the waist area
I nipped 3cm of length out of the centre back seam to compensate for my swayback
I let out the side seams around 1/8″ from the hipline downwards
The swayback alteration isn’t the easiest thing to do in a dress with no centre back or waist seams, so thank you to Pattern Scissors Cloth for this excellent tutorial. Making the adjustment itself isn’t too bad, but getting the grainline and centre back straight again afterwards was messing with my head.
Cutting out was a challenge, even with the crepe. I don’t own a rotary cutter and mat, so I heeded the advice in this post from Grainline Studios and sandwiched the fabrics between two layers of tissue paper before cutting out. Genius – no slipping, no shifting and I saved about £100. No long-term damage to my shears, although I should probably sharpen them again soon.
To sew up the crepe, I used a size 70 needle, and sew-all thread. I installed my walking foot and shortened my stitch length to 2.2. I finished the all-crepe seams on my overlocker.
For the silk, hmmm. The polka dots create a raised bump every inch or so, which causes the fabric to skip about under the needle, and pressing across them is a nightmare. A size 60 universal needle, some fine cotton thread and the walking foot were all deployed on a stitch length of 2. But for this fabric I also layered the fabric over tissue paper and stitched through that as well, tearing it away afterwards. Not bad, but there are still some wibbles in some of my seams…
I used a French seam finish where I could for this fabric as it’s sheer, but on the belt (which is stitched and then turned inside out) I had to try something else. I used the selvedge as much as I could so the edges wouldn’t need finishing, and on the rest I tried out a double zigzag seam, as recommended by Threads magazine.
I’ve just got the neckline and the hem left to do now, so hopefully I’ll be sharing pics of the finished article with you next weekend!
For the next part of the MARGE/Tall Guides sewing challenge, each of us now has to decide what we’re going to make, and which fabrics we’re going to use.
Getting down to practicalities, I started by measuring the four fabrics. With between 2m and 3m of each, this ruled out some of the floaty maxi-dress options that had been running through my mind. Sigh.
Incorporating two different fabrics, getting a good fit, and working with drapey fabric was going to be enough of a challenge for me so I wanted a pattern with a simple silhouette to exploit the drape, without fiddly closures or lots of darts.
I also needed a pattern that could be easily lengthened above and below the waist without disrupting its style lines. So I’ve settled on View B from B6169, using the coral crepe and the spotted pale pink silk fabrics.
It’s a pull-on sleeveless dress with a tie belt and a high-low hem by Liesl Gibson for Butterick. The princess seams should make fitting easier and I can alter the skirt shape and hem if I change my mind. I can’t find many in-the-wild examples of this dress (overshadowed by the jacket, I suspect), so I’m intrigued to see how it’ll turn out. The examples I have found so far are:
I’m planning to cut the main body of the dress in the coral crepe, using the spotted silk for the yoke pieces and the tie belt. I’d love to layer the two fabrics over each other, but there isn’t quite enough of either to make this work.
I’ll use french seams on the yoke pieces to give a neat finish and perhaps play around with different options for the neckline binding. But first, I’m going to make a toile to test the fit in some polyester crepe de chine. I’ll let you know how it goes.
You can see the dresses Allison, Beth and Tiffany are planning to make over on their blogs. I have a feeling they’re going to produce some real showstoppers…
So the Astoria is possibly the second most popular sweatshirt pattern in the sewisphere, after the Linden. It’s definitely less sculptural than the Talvikki, but I really wanted a workhorse, fitted sweatshirt with a set-in sleeve, so this was the pattern for me.
The sample images for this Seamwork pattern are gorgeous in sweater knit, but I also really love Rachel’s scuba version. To make it up, I used some pale pink flecked sweatshirting I’ve been hoarding for almost a year. It’s soooo snuggly. I realised afterwards that I must have subconsciously copied Lauren’s version!
Fit and fiddle
My back waist measurement is 17.5″ so I added two inches to the length so that the hem band seam would fall at my natural waist. For me, this is more wearable than the original cropped length (I have a small child – I can’t go a whole day without bending over or reaching up). I also added 1cm to the sleeve length, but ended up cutting this off again.
Size wise, I was hovering between the M and the L, and ended up making the M but grading it out to an L from the armpits down to the waist. It’s ended up a little too tight at the bust and on the arms. This is the first pattern ever to decree I have fat arms, so I’m sulking a bit about that. The fit is good across the back, but I can’t really assess the fit at the armscye properly because my bust is dragging the whole thing forwards. My full bust point is usually on the high side, so perhaps I should have cut the L and then narrowed the shoulders and the neckline instead – but then potentially ended up with an oversized armhole? Or cut the M, but added an FBA, graded out to the waist and added width to the sleeve? I don’t know which would have been the best solution on this one.. . Any advice?
Seamwork says that this pattern sews up in under an hour. Perhaps. If you don’t count cutting and sticking together the pattern, cutting out, faffing with a twin needle or umming and ahhing over any fitting alterations. I’d say the whole thing actually took me three hours.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow with links to helpful posts on Colette’s blog if you need more help. The sleeves are set in flat, so it’s easy to do all the main seams on an overlocker/serger.
I had a few issues with my overlocker (more on that another time), so I couldn’t use it to attach the neckband or the hem band. In this fabric, I found the neckband was too long and stood up when I basted it in, so I unpicked it, trimmed it by 2cm (1cm on the folded pattern piece) and it was much better second time around.
I opted for the full-length sleeves, figuring I could always cut them off to 3/4 length if I changed my mind later. The sleeve circumference at the wrist is a tiny 17cm, and although it goes over my hand it wouldn’t go around the free arm on my sewing machine. This made hemming the sleeves with the twin needle a nightmare. In the end I turned the sleeve inside out and did it from the inside, as I’d normally set in a sleeve, but because the cuffs are so much smaller than an armhole this was close to impossible and the stitching isn’t very neat. How do people who make the size XS manage?!
That said, I love the fabric, and I figure the British weather isn’t often all that warm – even in summer – so I’ll get plenty of wear out of this. I love that it coordinates with my favourite wardrobe singleton, the green lace skirt in the picture. And I’m hoping to get round to a second version with an improved fit.
This has been a long time coming, but my first-ever pair of Ginger jeans is finished. And boy, am I pleased with the results!
I’ve been after a pair of high-waisted flared jeans for ooh, about forever. And I finally gave in and decided I was going to have to make them myself.
The fabric is a lovely, soft, true blue stretch denim that I bought from Guthrie & Ghani last year in just the right weight/stretch combination for this pattern. One word of warning – if you’re long-legged, want to try the flared adaptation, or are planning to use extra large seam allowances to help with fitting, then buy more fabric than the skinny-legged Gingers pattern suggests. The cutting layout isn’t all that flexible because the denim has to be laid a certain way to prevent the legs twisting. I had 2.5m of 60″/150cm wide denim and that was only just, just enough.
The fitting process has turned into a real quest for me. I began sewing all those years ago because high street trousers didn’t fit – and having gone through this process I now know why! I must have taken them on and off at different stages of construction at least twenty times, so if you can spend a whole day sewing in just your underwear (!) you’ll probably get them finished a lot faster than I did.
I started with the size 16 to fit my 43″ hips, and graded down to a 14 at the waist at the same time as flaring the legs from the knee. I then lengthened the crotch depth by 1″ and also checked the total inside leg against my own measurements. These are my standard alterations for any pattern, and I usually find it’s fine to make these straight on the pattern without doing a toile/muslin first.
Taking a tip from Pants for Real People, I also enlarged the seam allowances to 1″ rather than 5/8″ at the inseams and outseams before cutting out to give me plenty of room for alterations. This was a complete lifesaver – and you should absolutely do this if you’re about to cut into good fabric for your first pair.
Let out the inseam and outseam along the thigh by 1/4″
Lowered the back crotch only by 3/4″ (in 3-4 stages)
Made the front crotch seam shallower by 1/4″
Let out the inseams from the knee downwards to make room for my large calves
Re-cut the yoke with more curve (effectively putting darts in the pattern to make it narrower at the top)
Steamed the waistband like crazy with the iron to give that more curve and trimmed it shorter (I’d run out of fabric by this point and was trying to avoid piecing it)
Sewed the back leg/yoke seam with a wider allowance at the centre back, reverting to the ordinary seam allowance at the side seams – this helped deal with my swayback
Took a big wedge out of the side seams at the top hip, effectively grading down to a size 10 there.*
Yanked up the centre back so it sits further into the waistband, and the same with the centre front
Oh, and I fiddled endlessly with the back pocket placement to see if I could manage to disguise my low seat!
I discovered I have what Pants for Real People creepily describes as a ‘crotch oddity’, in that I’m low in the back and high in the front. If this is you, you’ll notice that your RTW trousers always seem to either drag down at the back or disappear into your bum crack, yet you might also have some weird puffiness in the front crotch.
I didn’t have wide enough seam allowances to make the front crotch seam as shallow as I wanted, but it’s good enough – and I’ll know for next time.
*You can’t really tell in these pictures, but my right leg is around 1.5cm shorter than my left, and my pelvis is also smaller on the right side. This means I make side seam alterations unevenly, taking slightly more from the right side than the left. Plus I ended up placing the back pockets by eye, rather than using the pattern markings, so that everything looks more balanced and even.
Compared with the fitting, construction was – almost – a breeze. Heather’s instructions (I used the E-Book) are clear and logical, so it doesn’t feel as daunting as you might expect. You absolutely can make jeans.
My Janome DKS30 didn’t much like doing dense stitching with topstitching thread through multiple layers. It really hated backstitching and bar tacks through more than 3 layers. If you have the same problem it’s worth buying a regular thread in the same colour as your topstitching thread and trying the bar tacks with that instead. I did this on the belt loops and it made things easier – it worked better than switching stitches, or changing needles. I also did a fair amount of the backstitching using just the hand wheel, and avoided the automatic thread cutter. Next time I might get my vintage Singer 201K out for the topstiching, although she doesn’t have a zig zag stitch, so I won’t be able to use her for the bar tacks.
What my machine does have that helped a lot, is a small black button on the presser foot which fixes the angle of the presser foot, even when you’re starting at a thick edge. This meant I got away without using a hump jumper.
You press the black button as you lower the foot (it does help if you have three hands), and then begin sewing as normal. The presser foot will stay level even if you go over a hump, and *should* hold a fairly even stitch.
I used my overlocker (serger) to finish the seam allowances for speed, but it protested at anything more than three layers of denim, so I also employed the overedge stitch on my ordinary sewing machine. This is a really secure way to finish fraying fabrics, and it comes into its own when you don’t want to cut anything off – for example if you’re going to use that edge to line up something else.
The Prym rivets and jeans button kits I bought did turn out to be partially plastic, but they’re holding up well so far. (I’m probably going to live in these jeans for the next month or so, and the proof will be in how much pudding I can eat in them!)
The rivets were really fun to put in, and the only casualty was one of my thumbnails which accidentally took a battering when I got distracted by the doorbell…Can any UK sewists recommend a good source of metal ones for me?
If you’ve been hesitating about sewing jeans, I’ll be honest with you. No, it’s not as quick as a skirt or as easy as a jersey top.