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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Like Father Like Son: Burda 6718 Sweatshirt

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You would be forgiven for looking at this picture and thinking ‘Oh…the wee guy wanted a jumper just like his dad’s. How cute!’, when in actual fact, it was the other way around. Mr Dumpling saw his boy’s cool new tracksuit and announced that he would like one just like it. The jumper part anyway. I am not one to stifle anyone’s desire to express themselves – even as a giant child – so I had to agree.

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D’s tracksuit is a combination of the Mini Hudson pants (made umpteen times before – what can I say? – fabulous pattern) and an Ottobre Design pattern modified into a sweatshirt (also made before.) The fabric is organic fleece-backed sweatshirt from Organic Textile Company. I love this shop. All their fabric is organic and fair-trade and it’s excellent quality too. This outfit was made a while ago (yes, I am incredibly slow to document my makes!) and it has been well and truly tested by D who enjoys a fair amount of climbing trees and hanging upside down in the park. You can see a small difference in the top picture where the colour looks slightly faded against the new jumper but I think it’s pretty good considering how many times the outfit has been washed and how much ruff and tumble it has been subjected to.

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I’ve mentioned here before that I am mostly a selfish sewer. I love sewing for the kids and do that often but most of my sewing time is for me. Not sorry about that in the slightest! However, very occasionally – usually around christmas or birthday times – I can be persuaded to make something for someone else. This was one of those times. Mr Dumpling wanted the same colours and same general shape as D’s jumper and the best I could find in the Big 4 offerings was Burda 6718.  It has a hood option and a cowl neck option rather than the simple neckband that D’s has but this was acceptable to my client so I went with it. The blue was the first one I made to test the fit. The sweatshirt fabric is from my stash and I used organic ribbing for the cuffs and hem. It’s technically a wearable muslin but as I had no changes to make it’s a pretty good bonus jumper. Who said selfish sewer?! I put the white cord through the cowl neck as it’s all I had but I should really look for a navy or yellow cord to make the jumper look more polished.

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The red and grey jumper is the hooded version but this was not my original plan. To make it look more like D’s jumper I attempted to put a neckband on it instead of the hood and this should have been easy enough. I anticipated the neck opening being too wide so I adjusted it to decrease the width and make it sightly higher but when I attached the band and tried it on my model it was ridiculously wide. Some unpicking and head-scratching later I accepted that the only way forward would be to stick the hood on and be done with it. This wasn’t a huge problem except that because I had decreased the neck opening the hood was now too wide and had to be overlapped at the front to fit. It doesn’t look too bad and I could have cut the opening to make it wider if I was that bothered. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t! Again, I need to get some matching cord for the neck to complete it.

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Mr Dumpling likes his jumpers and I do too. The pattern is a great fit, the length is perfect on him – he’s 6ft – and apart from my neck experimentations there were no modifications needed. I could be persuaded to make this again for him but as it’s a while before birthdays or Christmas he’ll have to wait. Selfish sewing resumes now!

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!

Mini Hudson Pants & A Refashioned T

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The boy never sits still. What 2 year old does? He prefers to jump around, climb furniture and roll on the floor so what better than a pair of Mini Hudson Pants to make his adventures more comfortable? These breeks by True Bias are the perfect mixture of style and wearability for any child. And adult in fact…I’m eyeing them up for myself too.

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As for the fabric… My eye was caught a while ago by some sweatshirts on a sale table in Zara. They were massive and shapeless, made from organic cotton and incredibly soft. I bought two – grey and navy – and to be honest they were quite hideous as ladies’ jumpers but I was sure there would be enough fabric in each one for some mini hudsons. I was right. I even used the neckband for the pocket bands and the sleeve cuffs for the leg cuffs…and there’s some fabric left over for a hat or gloves or whatever (but that can wait until next winter now). Lovely stuff! They were constructed almost entirely on the overlocker except for some zigzag stitching on the pocket bands and the waistband. I really love this pattern. The trousers are modern and stylish and the pieces come together really easily so I can see myself making many more pairs in the future.

I thought I had scored an absolute steal given that organic cotton sweatshirting is expensive but when I got them home and scrutinised the label it appears they were composed of about 30/40% organic cotton and the rest man made. So not as good as I thought. Anyway the fabric was still lovely to work with and the trousers are super-cool so I can’t complain.

The tshirt is a reworking of one of dad’s old ones using Ottobre Design 4/2014. It’s the same pattern I used here but with short sleeves. This is a great basic tshirt pattern and fits the boy really well. Enough said really.

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