Happy Harem Coverall

Today was probably the last sunny day of what has been a rubbish summer in these parts but any sunny day is a day for celebration in my book. Wee gal is wearing her newest party outfit. It’s not a dress. It’s a harem pant romper because why not?!

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I’ve had my eye on Brindille and Twig patterns for a while. They are good basics but with enough quirky details to suit the age of their target market and they really showcase all the wacky knit fabrics that are out there just now. I took advantage recently of the lower prices of the Harem Coverall and Hooded Vest and I knew immediately that I had to use the appropriately named fabric, Happiness, by Shalmiak. It’s happiness on a plate! Suns, stars, CND signs, rainbows, peace, love and happiness, yes please! I paired it with red and white striped rib knit by Shalmiak. Both fabrics are organic cotton, amazing quality and available here and here in my Etsy shop.

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The romper is well drafted and came together well although I’ll admit to not reading the instructions in detail. It’s a fairly simple construction and I’ve made enough knit garments to feel comfortable about diving in head first but on this occasion I wish I had read the instructions fully before cutting out. As soon as I realised the only way in and out of the romper is through the neck I decided to add button snaps to the shoulders to reduce strain on the neckline. They do advise that you use a fabric with good stretch recovery for the neckline but I think it would have to be very hardwearing to cope with the stress of being pulled over the shoulders umpteen times a day for toilet breaks, undressing, etc. The button snaps work well so it’s not a problem except that I’ve lost a bit of room at the shoulder. The seam allowance is 0.6cm but instead I folded over each seam 1cm then overlapped to make the button band so I think I’ve lost approximately 2cm on each shoulder seam which considerably decreases the neckline and armscye length. It still fits fine but it’s a lesson to me to not be so impatient to get started on a new garment. And I will  *cough cough* pay heed!

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I made the size 3-4T which was a bit of a long shot given that wee gal is turning 2 next week but she is tall for her age and I’d rather make something too big than too small. I think the design of this garment hides the extra length quite well though. It just bunches around the baggy bum and legs area and it will grow with her so hopefully she’ll get lots of wear out of it for – um – the next two years probably!

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But besides the cool shape of this romper it is the fabric that really makes it special. The organic cotton is deserving of its name – it’s the happiest fabric I’ve ever seen. Wee gal had tons of complements when she wore it which makes the process of making clothes extra special. It feels good to know that your kids’ clothes are ethically made (the late nights are all my own!), organic, totally unique and make people smile. For extra feel goods this is Kids Clothes Week, a celebration of sewing for your kids which you can find out about here. The theme for the current challenge is Celebration and that couldn’t be more fitting for this amazing print which is surely a celebration of life!

Peace n love x

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Wee Football Star in a Football Shirt (of sorts)

I love children’s clothes but I’m not hugely keen on the gendered offerings available in most high street shops. Everywhere I look boys’ clothes are covered in cars and trucks or ridiculous statements like ‘Here Comes Trouble’ that subtly suggest to boys that we expect them to be troublesome or even find it cute when they act boyish (or boorish). And girls’ clothes! All that pink and glitter and princessy, image-obsessed nonsense. (Don’t get me started on Frozen! Yes, I get that its supposed to be one of the good ones with an empowering female message and all but they’re still bloody princesses and there’s no need for their faces to be plastered all over clothes and toys. Give us a break. Please!) I’m quite particular about how I dress Wee Guy – I like simple shapes, comfortable fabric (cotton, always; organic, if possible) , colour and fun prints. It sounds easy, yes? Well its not. But it’s okay…I can make my own!

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I’ve sewn this pattern before. Many times, in fact. But who cares? Wee Guy needs new clothes and this is his ideal style. It’s my modified Mushroom top pattern from  Ottobre Design mag 4/2014, also seen here and here…oh and here too! I clearly love this pattern. What makes it so good though is that it’s the perfect simple shape to show off lovely fabrics. This one is Shalmiak’s Soccer Star which Wee Guy saw and immediately wanted for obvious reasons. It’s beautifully soft and stretchy and amazing quality. That and the ribbing, also Shalmiak, are from my Etsy shop. The grey fabric is organic cotton jersey from Organic Textile Company available here. Even the wee strip of blue covering the innards of the neck seam is organic but I can’t remember where  it’s from. That means the whole thing is organic! (Okay, except for the thread, damnit!) Wee Guy’s skin is quite sensitive so I try to use organic with him as much as possible but if I’m being honest the more I read about the cotton trade and the garment trade the more I feel compelled to buy organic. I feel uneasy when I think about the harm that the chemicals used in growing cotton and manufacturing fabric are doing and I’m not sure I want to contribute to that. That’s not to say I have fully committed to only buying organic yet but I’m definitely becoming more aware of the issues and my choices as a consumer.

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The entire thing was constructed on the overlocker except for the neck binding and the hem which were done on the sewing machine. I’ve said it before but I’ll say again…I love the jersey stretch stitch on my Bernina! (as seen in the following picture). It has stood up to the demands that both of my children place on their clothing and those are big demands – Wee Guy has developed a sudden interest in climbing trees, need I say more?!

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One happy boy! Will I make more of these? Er…yeah!

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The Too Big toddler dress and leggings combo

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I am a huge fan of Ottobre Design kids patterns. I’ve made a few items for the boy – they fit really well and are very practical for everyday wear. I am sure this outfit will be no exception…when the girl grows into it. I seem to have a problem with cutting the right size and always end up going too big. Sure, it’s better than being too small but also quite annoying since she won’t get to wear this for a good couple of months at least. I blame RTW (always a scapegoat!) and its tendency to be smaller than it should be. Certain shops have the weirdest sizing in kids’ clothes – and some clearly don’t preshrink fabric as they get smaller after washing which really maddens me! But, isn’t that one of the reasons we make our own clothes?…because we know we can do better? Now, the bairn’s tall and has always worn a size bigger in RTW but, even so, her leggings are always up above her ankles (and the same with the boy, though in his case it’s that the t-shirts don’t always meet the waist band!) so, when choosing a pattern size I tend to – out of habit – go up. Turns out it was entirely unnecessary in this case. Who’d have thunk it?!

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I cut the size 86cm which is normally 12-18months and as you can see in the top pictures there is plenty of growing room. That’s not a bad thing but I just hope that the bairn grows into the waist before the leggings get too short so fingers crossed! The tunic and leggings patterns are from Ottobre Design 1/2015. All seams were stitched on the overlocker and then finished with the twin needle on the neckband/cuffs and the amazing Bernina stretch stitch on the hems (seriously, it’s the most amazing thing about my machine. The hem can stretch way more than a twin needle or a zig zag stitch and means no more popped seams on stretchy fabrics!) If you look really carefully you can see it here on the tunic hem  and leggings waistband – it’s the most close up picture I could get.

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The fabric is the really beautiful Elk Grove knit by Birch Fabrics. It’s organic cotton interlock knit and I’ve been hoarding it for about a year waiting for the right time to use it. It feels very soft yet thick enough to handle some rough’n’tumble toddler action. I only bought a half metre of each fabric and couldn’t get the whole dress out of one piece. I like the mis-matched arms though so I’m pleased with the way it turned out. If you can get away with weird details anywhere then it’s most definitely on kids’ clothes. Due to fabric limitations there was no way I was even going to attempt to match the chevrons on the leggings. Quite liberating really as I would probably have done it despite the fact that the bum will be covered. Fortuitously, I had the perfect match of cotton ribbing in my stash. I sure do love it when that happens!

Ottobre jersey tops for the boy

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I recently discovered Ottobre Design magazine in WHSmith in amongst all the dull crochet and cross stitch magazines that seem to be stocked everywhere (seriously, who buys them?!) I grabbed it without hesitation, despite the eye-watering price tag, figuring that with so many patterns it’s got to be good value for money. Now that I’ve made something I can say I’m really happy with it and look forward to making more. There are loads of lovely and practical clothes for kids from babies up to teens so it could get a lot of use. Even the tracing wasn’t as much of a chore as it usually is (Burda I’m looking at you…) probably because being child-sized the pattern pieces fit on my cutting mat and I did’t have to shift the paper around as I was tracing. Last year I made the Made by Rae Flashback skinny tees but despite cutting a size MUCH bigger than the age of the boy (I know he’s big but really…) he didn’t get much wear out of them before they were straining to cover his poor wee pot belly. Ottobre sizes are based on height rather than age so it’s easier to select a size that will fit without being derailed by the age guide.

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The pattern is the Mushroom jersey top from the Autumn 2014 issue in size 98 cm. As with last time, I used organic cotton jersey from Kitschy Coo. This stuff is lovely. The woodland animals are a hit with the boy and he gets loads of compliments when he wears the top. The second one is my favourite though as the stripy cotton is amazingly soft. Both tops used just under half a metre of the main fabric and are finished with organic cotton ribbing for the neck band and cuffs.

As an added bonus the stripy top has welt pockets!

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It’s the first time I’ve done this with a knit but they went together without any hassle. Ottobre instructions are as detailed as Burda – that is, not at all, so if you are a beginner you might struggle to follow them. Best to consult your instruction manual of choice for help with this stage. Hopefully my construction stands up to the extreme conditions posed by this wee man…

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So there you have it. Two more practical, cute AND organic cotton tops for the boy. And this time they fit better and, hopefully, for longer.

Coming soon…more sewing for me again, YAY!

Flashback Skinny Tees for a Chunky Boy

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I made these wee cuties with the Made By Rae Flashback Skinny Tee pattern. My boy is 20 months old and big for his age so to be on the safe side I cut the size 2T which should be, according to their website, ‘a bit big when the child turns two, and a bit more snug as they near the age of three.’ Ha! Didn’t quite work out in this case. They are both very snug but still passable thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric. Next time I’ll go much bigger.

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The fabric is from Kitschy Coo and feels as lovely as it looks. I had a really hard time choosing the fabric as Amanda has some amazingly colourful prints – and all organic cotton! I’m spoiling the boy! I was trying to recreate the look of the very expensive Swedish brand tshirts you get in the fancier shops but for less money and my plan has worked a treat. I reckon I used about £6 worth of fabric for each one – still more money than you’d spend in Asda on a kids tshirt but who wants an Asda tshirt anyway?! Not my boy.

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The tshirts were really easy to make. An hour for cutting and an hour for stitching. That’s what I call fast fashion! I assembled the main body with my overlocker then used a twin needle to finish the neckband and hem. Easy peasy.

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Two belly-rubbing good tshirts!

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