Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Are you sewing anything for the Kids’ Clothes Week Challenge? I’m halfway through a dress for myself, but when this popped up, I figured I’d put it on hold for now and focus on a few kids’ projects that have been on the back burner.  Not a bad idea considering the challenge I recently set myself (and anyone else who is joining me!)

The idea of Kids Clothes Week is to sew an hour a day for your kids… cutting, tracing patterns, seam ripping or whatever, it all counts.

Last night I finished a pair of sailor-style pants for P (by, who else?  Oliver+S) – all except the buttons. I’ll post a picture of them when the buttons are on.

I have a couple of Japanese patterns I ordered from Etsy, so I’m thinking my next project might be a jumper-style dress for M.

Beach Pullover

In the lead-up to the warm weather, I found myself sewing a lot for M, but P needs a little sewing love too! A couple of days before we left for South Carolina, I heard it was going to be cool and windy for a couple of days. That reminded me of a boy-friendly pattern that’s been sitting in my “stash” for a while – the Oliver+S Nature Pullover. (I made the pants here, but not the top.)

I made it out of some gorgeous blue linen I got at Dressew, and some Heather Ross guitar fabric for the accent. I didn’t have very much of the Heather Ross, just two fat quarters. If I’d had more I would have probably changed the direction of the guitars so they were going up and down instead of left to right. But I don’t think P minds. I was also feeling might proud of myself because it’s a three-scissor pattern and I made it up in an evening. Go me! And that linen feels just like butter… it’s delicious. Perfect for the cloudy days at the beach.


One-Year Challenge

Have I told you about this crazy idea I have?  I was complaining in a recent post about how, between fabric and patterns and notions, sewing can easily become an expensive hobby.  I don’t want it to be just another excuse to spend money.  For one thing I can’t afford it.  So I was thinking about the reason that store-bought clothes are so much less expensive: economies of scale.  Despite making lots of my kids stuff, I still end up spending a lot on store-bought clothing.  If I cut that out, and focussed solely on handmade, then I’d probably have few inefficiencies in my own sewing spending.  Every scrap would be used.  There’d be less fabric just being stored.  And cutting out those impulse expenditures every time Gap has a 30% off sale would save those expense.

I mean, maybe it won’t even be that hard.  My kids already have a lot of clothes.  So they really don’t need that much unless one of them has a major growth spurt.  I also think I could learn so much by committing to that for a year.  I won’t say I’ll never slip up, but I will only do so where truly necessary.  I mean technical clothing for example – if the kids need snow pants, I will buy those.   But my goal will be if I CAN make it, I will.  But there’d have to be an exception for socks and underwear.  And what about sweaters?  Should I commit to making sweaters?  I suppose I could.  I haven’t knit in ages, but you can make new sweaters out of old thrifted ones… that would count.

So as you can see I am still outlining the parameters, but as of now, the challenge is on.  If I do end up buying anything, I’ll document it here for full disclosure.  Hopefully it won’t be like my “Only Victorian novels for a year” challenge.  I set that goal in November, and while I’m still doing that, but I won’t deny my reading pace has slowed significantly.  When the weather warms, the mind longs for chick lit.  Also, Bleak House nearly did me in.  I have to treat these lengthy challenges like a marathon and not a sprint, so I have to start slowly so as not to wear myself out.

I am even contemplating imposing the “no store-bought clothing” requirement on myself, but I have to spend some more time coming to terms with that as I tend to engage in quite a bit of retail therapy.  But really, I do have a closet full of perfectly serviceable clothes sufficient for each season, and there’s no reason why much or any of it would need to be replaced.  There are things I want, but nothing I particularly need.  Plus, no more BR sales means more money for shoes!  We’ll see…


I seem to have lost the cable from my camera to my computer, so until the new one arrives off eBay, I only have phone photos… I even bought a SD card/USB thing today to download the pictures, but it’s defective.

I ended up being sick, sadly, for most of the vacation. I’m pretty sure I had strep throat, although they never ended up swabbing me.  A dose of antibiotics finally set me right, but it was excruciating in the meantime.

At least the kids got lots of beach time. M is below, showing off her bloomers, from Heather Ross’ Weekend Sewing book.  Perfect for beach combing…


Or just hanging out…


Also, you know you are a sewing geek when you find yourself staring at historical garments for ages and ages. This jacket was displayed in the lobby of our Savannah hotel. I skip past clothing displays at museums, racing ahead to other parts, but I have a new appreciation for them now.

Historical Garments

Look at the hand sewn buttonholes.


Savannah is a beautiful city. When my camera cord is recovered I will share some photos of it! Aside from a few bits of architecture from the ’70s, the historical district is basically frozen 150 years ago… quite unlike Vancouver, where their idea of heritage preservation is to keep the front facade of a building and stick another skyscraper behind it. I’ve been watching them slowly tear down the old University Club. My understanding was that part of it would be preserved, but as of now, this is all that’s left:


Lisette Shorts

Is it obvious I am a little bit excited about the possibility of a warm weather trip in my future?

These are the Lisette Souvenir shorts made out of some Denyse Schmidt Home Dec fabric that I picked up on Etsy. I did a tissue fitting, so I didn’t make a muslin. My only thinking is that if I made them again I would narrow the waistband slightly at the back, as I seem to have that issue with some of the Simplicity patterns. I swear I will make a muslin next time! I promise! (I hear the ghost of Liesl Gibson in my head with that, because that was one thing she really emphasised at the sewing workshop… I’m finally sold and have some super-cheap $1/yard muslin on order…)

Lisette Souvenir Shorts

It was also my first ever invisible zipper, and I won’t lie – it’s not that invisible. But now (after much seam-ripping) I know how to do it, so I’m sure it will be better next time. I should add that the pattern doesn’t call for one, so if you use one, make sure to install it before you add the waistband facing, as the instructions are for a regular zipper. I used the explanation in the Vogue sewing book, which I was inspired to buy after reading Gertie‘s sewing blog obsessively recently. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the vintage Vogue book her blog centres around, so I made do with the revised one. I really can’t say enough about useful it is, as a novice, to have a reference book to refer to as you are making clothes. This book is going to be pretty indispensable I think.

They were super-duper easy and I plan to be wearing them all summer! I suspect there are more in my future. Also, I can’t believe I paid $40 for shorts at Banana Republic a few weeks ago… these ones are just as cute, and took only about an hour to sew up. Oh well, at least I didn’t pay $400, like this pair!

Oh, and the funniest thing was when I came out to “model” them to DH, P looks up and says, “Wow! Cute!”

Pants for P

I have a bit of a Sew Weekly addiction. I love the seeing all the cool, beautiful, and sometimes very weird things people sew for themselves. And the pictures they take. But I always get annoyed on the posts where it talks about cost. They ask the contributors how much they spent, and so often people write “Free! It was all from my stash!” or “$2 on buttons, and $1 on a thrift store fabric.” Where is this thrift store silk coming from? Send me there! And I know those buttons, thread, needles, bobbins weren’t free, but they are often not factored into the price.

I’m pretty sure sewing does not save me money. In fact, I could get cute stuff at Superstore for the same cost (or less) than what the fabric costs. And sometimes the patterns alone cost $16 or $20, which is great if you make a bunch of the same item, and I often do. But it’s not a great price when you buy it and never get around to making it, which I also do. And then the cost of the machine, maintaining it, and all the little bits of equipment – needles, bobbins, new blades for the rotary cutter, maintenance for the serger etc. And the whole “stash” thing is such a fallacy – if it’s in your stash, you must have bought it at some point!

There has to be some other reason to sew – because you love the work, because it relaxes you, because you can customize things and make them unique. For me, well it’s just that I have fun with it. I’ve said it before, but sewing is my yoga. I can do it when the kids are napping; I can cut out patterns while watching Dexter with J (though he sometimes complains about the rustling.) And I like the creative outlet it gives me, particularly when working in an industry that is intellectual, but rarely creative.

Still, every now and then sewing does make me feel like a very thrifty and industrious soul. These are really simple little pants I made for P, at 3/4 length. I am imagining him running around on the beach in them. I was inspired by the pictures of the Huck Finn pants in Heather Ross’ Weekend Sewing Book but the pattern only goes to Size 2 so I just drafted up something similar. It wasn’t quite right, but I will fine tune it in the future. And the fabric? I made it from a $2 pillowcase! (I can hear you cheering right now!)

Pillowcase Pants

I made two pairs – the other pair I made from some fabric in my stash so FREE! (Just kidding – I’m sure it cost me $12 a metre at some point, though I didn’t use all of it, which could mean either wastage, or savings, depending on how you look at it.)

Two pairs of clamdiggers

No pattern, so that part was free I guess, except I got the idea from a book that cost me $15 or so. If I had taken it out from the library it would have been free though!

Oh and elastic and thread. Not sure how much those cost, but probably a couple of bucks? Plus amortized cost of sewing machine and serger repairs. Still, it was cheaper than my ‘inspiration’ pair from Jack and Janie. And don’t you dare tell me they’re not as cute!

Source: via Hilary on Pinterest

Besides, goofy kid wearing something his mother made him? Priceless.


Class Picnic Dress

In a few weeks… ooooh, actually 10 days we are going away for almost 2 weeks. To a warm southern state with a beach, and sunshine and lots of things this crazy weather hasn’t had up here.

Class Picnic Dress

I typically work four days a week, and mostly that works out quite well for me, but for the last few weeks I’ve been working 5+, so I am definitely in need of a recharge. As is M’s wardrobe – and so I bring you the class picnic dress. This pattern is usually a top, but I made it into a dress, having stolen that idea from the Oliver+S website. I also made a bias binding that went around the whole neckline, rather than just the sleeves, and made it contrasting.

The skirt is sort of inspired by some of the Diane von Furstenberg stuff I saw on the Gap kids website… oh, I know it was this one. I love the skirt but I won’t pay $58 for a onesie. Apparently some people will though, since it’s sold out in most sizes. Then again, $15 worth of fabric and 3 hours of labour? Hmmm. My affinity for fancy fabrics keeps sewing from being wholly economical. But it’s worth it when you this little sweetie in her custom-made dress. It was still a little chilly out, so she kept a top on underneath.

, on Flickr

I do wish I’d made the ruffle a bit more “ruffly.” I think it would have been cute, but I detached the skirt and then added it back on again because the first time it wasn’t at the right length. So that reduced the volume somewhat as I was lazy and just trimmed off the seam instead of picking it all apart.

The Cherry-picking Dress

This is the Apple-picking Dress, one of the Oliver+S 2011 fall patterns. I’m going to call it the cherry-picking dress though since, (a) it’s not fall, so no apples to pick, and (b) cherry season is ANY MINUTE (if it ever stops SNOWING here. We’ve had very weird weather this spring) and (c) the fabric is covered in tiny blue (?) and red cherries. It’s from Connecting Threads Canning Day line.

Apple-Picking Dress

This pattern had a lot of steps, so I finished it over several nights, but was actually quite easy. Either that, or I’m getting better. The trickiest part is that there are lots of buttonholes, but I’m not usually intimidated by buttonholes as my machine will do them for me. Also, one of the “columns” of buttonholes are false – you just sew the button on top to get the look, but they don’t function.

I love the drop waist. There’s another drop waist pattern in the spring collection that was announced today and I am highly tempted to order it asap. Hm.

Miss M seems to like it too… until I bug her with too many photos.

Apple-Picking Dress - No More Photos Mom!

Finished Tova Top

Phew – finished the Tova dress! And wore it out that same night.

I tried to get P to take a picture of me going out so I could capture the “outfit” but this was the result.

Peter's Photo Attempts

Self-portraits were also not working for me…


So instead you get J taking the picture in the morning – sorry about the bedhead.

Finished Tova

There were a few things about the pattern that were kind of tricky – attaching that square yoke was pretty hard, so eventually I just topstitched it on because I made a dog’s breakfast of it when I tried to do it the way it was described in the pattern. That was in large part due to the fabric – this chambray frays really easily and it was all coming apart. If I had a more stable fabric, I think it probably would have been fine. Also the collar piece was too short – not sure if that’s an error in the PDF pattern or if I did my tracing wrong (quite possible!). The pattern says just to “ease” it in, so I did, but I think it looks kind of bunched, and if I did it again, I’d lengthen the collar piece. Anyway, I still think it’s very cute and I got some nice compliments on it last night. I will definitely make this pattern again, especially because it’s so fast to go together. Even with cutting it out, I was able to finish it in an afternoon. Even with the kids home being neglected learning the value of independent play. However that showed me the value of pulling a muslin together, because I made my mistakes and puzzled through most of it (except the collar!) doing that. Plus it fits!

“Yoga” Pants

I am doing a ton of sewing for the kids right now. Didn’t do much in February thanks to a very busy period at work… I’ve got another busy week coming up as a trial resumes, so got to get it in now.

Every boy needs a pair of yoga pants. These are made from the Oliver + S Nature Walk pattern.

They are so cozy inside as the fabric is super-fluffy. I narrowed the pattern (a size 5) since P is so slender, but I don’t think I needed to do that. However, I kind of like the slim look.

P modelling his pants

P is going skiing today with his Dad, so these will come in handy.

Unfortunately, my serger started acting up again… I accidentally had to rethread it and now the tension seems wonky again, so clearly I am threading it wrong… but I’ve puzzled over it/the manual for ages and am still not sure what’s wrong, so it may need to go back to the store again. Boo.

When I look at this photo, he looks like such a little boy. Not a toddler anymore… a kid.