Big Joey dress for Clare

A number of my sewing buddies know that I actively avoid Make It Perfect patterns after a not-so-good experience with them a few years back.  I suspect then that they will be surprised to discover that I have recently purchased and sewn one!  I rather liked the look of the Make It Perfect Big Joey dress when I saw it pop up on a few blogs (actually, more than a few) and when the patterns were on sale for half price, I decided that it was time to give them a second chance.  And I have to say that I really like the finished dress on Clare.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

This pattern comes in three size ranges. The smallest is 0-5 years, then the Big Joey for 6-10 years. There is also a Women’s version. The size chart only lists chest and base of neck to finished hem as a guide to sizing. It didn’t say if the chest measurement was actual chest or the finished garment chest. Clare measured size 6 around the chest if “chest” meant actual body measurement, but I had a feeling that just wasn’t going to work so made an executive decision and went for size 9, guided by the base of neck to finished hem measurement. As it turns out the size 9 is fine but certainly doesn’t have much room for growth. I will make size 10 next time.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The pattern description from the website: A mini version of the Make It Perfect women’s Skippy dress, Joey is a pretty, everyday dress for little girls made with your favourite stretchy knit fabric. There’s plenty to smile about with its pretty gathered sleeves in a choice of three lengths, an optional cowl neck and a swingy skirt. Joey has a great, everyday shape featuring handy kangaroo-style pouch pockets. Make it in a solid colour or mix and match prints and patterns for endless different looks. Easy to put on, comfortable to wear and perfect for play. Joey is a dress for all tree-climbing, puddle-jumping and bike-riding adventures.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The front pocket definitely attracted Clare to this pattern, and she also liked the dropped waist. Although the skirt is described as “swingy”, it’s really a simple A-line. It’s drafted with the hem extending in a straight line to the side seam, which makes the skirt longer at the sides than in the centre front and centre back. I measured the length of the side seam and altered the pattern piece to lengthen it at the centre front/back, curving it gently to meet the side seam. It’s only a small amount, but makes a difference. As far as I am aware – and do correct me if I am wrong – the designer does not have formal pattern drafting training or experience, and to me it is in areas like this that it shows. The skirt on Clare’s dress is the same length all the way around, and it falls and sits much more nicely in my opinion than many of the others I’ve seen.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Clare chose the short gathered sleeve option for her dress. I didn’t pay much attention to the instructions when constructing the dress, both because I am fairly experienced in making knit dresses for kids and because I’d not been enamoured by my previous experience with Make It Perfect instructions. However, I did look at them briefly for this section. They suggest that the sleeves be inserted flat before sewing up the side seams and before adding the sleeve band. Since these sleeves were so short and had a fair degree of gather at the sleeve head I did it differently and inserted them in the round after sewing up the side seams and attaching the sleeve band. Once again, the drafting wasn’t great at the bottom of the sleeve where it attaches to the band, but because it’s a knit there is some leeway and it all worked out okay. I’ll alter the pattern piece a bit in that area before I make it next. The armhole depth is not all that great, although the shoulders are fairly wide. I might alter that too.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The fabric came from Clear It, and is lovely quality. You’ve seen it before in Stella’s Ethereal dress, and the other colourway in Clare’s Belinda dress. The contrast bands were a random cotton/spandex knit from stash. They really give the dress a bit of added pop!  Construction was primarily on the overlocker, with the machine used for gathering and for twin needle topstitching.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Next time around I’ll make the size 10 for my almost 12 year old, and will make the same pattern changes listed above. It is quite a versatile pattern, and one that I will use again, but I’m still not all that thrilled by the pattern drafting from this pattern company. However, I do like the finished dress, and so does Clare. Hooray!

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Asymmetrical drape top

When the latest Perfect Pattern Parcel popped up in my feed reader I jumped straight on it.  Patterns for tweens – just what I’m after!  And it includes casual patterns for knits – plus the Figgy’s Sunki dress, which I had been considering buying anyway.  So a click or two later, a pattern download and a press of the “print” button (plus some scissors and sticky tape) and before I knew it I was cutting out an Asymmetrical drape top for Clare.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

This is such a simple top, and has similarities to the You Sew Girl! Drape dress that I have made myself a couple of times and the almost ubiquitous side draped top from Drape Drape 2, the Japanese sewing book. After measuring Clare we decided to make size 8. It’s still rather roomy, and long enough to wear as a tunic over leggings. I suggest choosing the size by hip measurement.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is an ombre print that fades from orange down to almost white. We cut the neckband from the orange part, and the bottom band in a way that it incorporated the white and the orange. The bottom band is great – it means that Clare can easily hitch it up higher to give it more side drape, and it stays in place.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The neck band is very narrow, as it is only recommended to be cut at 1.5 inches wide and is folded in half. When I stretched it to fit the neckline it narrowed ever further. Once it was pressed and top-stitched the viscose knit gave quite a nice neckline, but I suspect that if you were using a cotton/spandex mix or similar that you would need to cut the neckline a little larger and the neckband a little wider and longer. As with most knits, experimentation is the key!

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

Since I had the pattern out, and it was only one piece for the front and back (with the front neckline cut lower than the back) plus the hem band and neckband I figured that I should just go ahead and make two. This brightly striped viscose knit (also from Darn Cheap Fabrics, I think) behaved in pretty much the same way as the ombre fabric, also resulting in a narrow neckband. The sleeve hems were finished by overlocking around the edge then turning to the inside once and topstitching with the twin needle. I did the topstitching with two colours this time, bright pink and bright orange.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The pattern actually gives two options to create more or less drape on the side – this is the one that creates more. The lower band and the neckband are also optional. These should fit for all the summer and potentially next summer as well.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

I sewed these on the weekend – Clare wore one the following day and the other the day after. Clearly they tick all the right boxes! I’m looking forward to making more from the Pattern Parcel – next on the list is the Lily knit blazer, in the leftover fabric from the Finlayson sweater.  The Pattern Parcel is such a cost-effective way to buy patterns from different independent designers you may not have encountered before – I suggest taking a look at this one if you have a tween girl to sew for.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

yet another Ethereal dress

This is the last Ethereal dress for a little while, surely!  I made it a couple of weeks ago when I was on a “sewing for the girls” binge, but it only had its first wear on the weekend just gone.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

This is another sleeveless version, which should be terrific for summer but obviously can be easily layered over a long-sleeved tee and leggings for the cooler days of spring that we are currently enjoying. The fabric is a printed knit from Clear It, possibly from the Alannah Hill range.  I bought quite a bit, and both girls are fighting over who will have the next garment made from it.  If it looks familiar that is because you have seen it before in another colour way in this dress I made Clare earlier in the year when I was at Sewjourn.  Speaking of Sewjourn, is it too soon to start the countdown to our November trip?

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

I can make these dresses rather quickly now! As with Clare’s most recent Ethereal, I omitted the back opening and simply cut this on the fold. It slips on without needing to be unbuttoned. The edge of the flounce was finished with the rolled hem setting on the overlocker, and the skirt hem and bodice seamline were finished with twin needle stitching on the overlocker.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

The fully lined bodice is easy to construct, with the “burrito” method used to finish the armholes before sewing the side seams of the bodice outer and lining in one step. I must remember that method for lined sleeveless bodices! In fact, I think I’ll use it on my next Myrtle dress – I’ll just have to remember to cut two back bodice pieces in order to do it.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

This is the same size as the Foxy Ethereal dress that I made for Stella a few weeks earlier, size 4/5 width but 6/7 length.  Do I really have to put this pattern away for a little while and move onto another one?  I like it so much!

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

And did you notice that gap in her smile?  Adorable!

Ethereal and Swoon

Sometimes garment pattern names provide me with interesting blog titles that are a little beyond the prosaic.  Ethereal and Swoon?  That provides for all sorts of mental images!  So here is the reality.

Figgys Ethereal dress and Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

Both these patterns are repeats. The dress is the sleeveless version of the Figgy’s Ethereal dress, which I’ve made for Clare before here and for Stella before here. I left out the buttoned opening at the back and simply cut it on the fold.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

Size wise, this is the largest size that the pattern goes up to, which is the 8/9 years. There is plenty of width in it, and both the bodice and skirt length could easily be altered for a larger size. Clare is 11 and a half years old now. We cut the skirt to the second longest length, which I think is meant to be roughly knee length. It’s definitely above her knees, at a length that she rather likes.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

The armholes are rather low, so be aware of that if you are making it. Not too low to wear, but they do show her camisole underneath. I used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to hem the dress and secure the bodice lining around the raised waistline seam. Construction was shared between the overlocker and the sewing machine. The edge of the bodice flounce was roll hemmed using the overlocker, in a contrasting mustardy shade.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

The jacket is once again the Swoon Patterns Scarf Neck Cardigan. Construction was entirely on the overlocker, although hems were turned once and secured with a zig-zag stitch on the overlocker.

Figgys Ethereal dress and Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

This is also the largest size, which I think is a 9/10. Plenty of room for winter and possibly also for next. Clare really likes these cardigans – she wears the other one frequently and this one is also entering into high rotation. She likes it with jeans too. Clare sometimes wraps it around and tucks it at the edges for a different look, but it mostly just hangs free.

Figgys Ethereal dress and Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, from the $2 per metre table. I passed it over the first time I spotted it, because it’s not something that I would wear, but then I reconsidered it for Clare. And as it turns out, Clare really likes it! It’s a knit, probably acrylic, and fairly stable. Once again, not the type of fabric recommended for the Ethereal dress, but it works.

Figgys Ethereal dress and Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

You’ve seen the striped leggings before – they are from the Go To Patterns Leggings pattern. I rather like the way that Clare has styled this outfit – maybe a little influenced by our attendance at the screening of Pretty In Pink that was recently held at the Westgarth Cinema. (Clare really enjoyed the movie, but did giggle often because there was “lots of kissing”).

Figgys Ethereal dress and Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi in knit from Darn Cheap fabrics

This is the last garment that I have planned for the girls for a little while. Although there will be a Grade Six graduation dress to make for Clare soon, and Christmas dresses won’t be far behind. It’s a good thing that I enjoy sewing for them!

pyjamas for Clare

Clare has been asking for new winter pyjamas for ages.  I finally sewed up a couple of pairs just before we left for Thailand – and she definitely didn’t need winter pyjamas there!

pyjamas for Clare - Oliver + S Hopscotch top and Ottobre pants

I used the same patterns that I usually use for pyjamas – the Oliver + S Hopscotch for the top, and Ottobre 06/2009, no.35 for the pants. When Oliver + S digital patterns were last on sale I bought a digital copy of the Hopscotch pattern, as I keep on using it and it’s easier to reprint it each time I need to go up a size. I used size 10 for the top, and traced the Ottobre pants in their second largest size. As it turns out the pants are a little big, and Clare has to fold over the waistband to keep the crotch from hanging halfway to her knees. However she still finds them comfortable.

pyjamas for Clare - Oliver + S Hopscotch top and Ottobre pants

The floral is a cotton/lycra knit from Spotlight – I bought quite a bit at the time and you’ve seen it on the blog before but finally there is none left – and the stripe is a lovely cotton/lycra knit that was given to me and is now also all used up! I made two pair of pants and two tops, each trimmed with the other fabric. Clare can mix and match them however she likes.  Floral top with striped pants, striped top with floral pants, floral top with floral pants, striped top with striped pants.  As the mood strikes!

pyjamas for Clare - Oliver + S Hopscotch top

I’ve raved about the Hopscotch pattern before. It comes together so easily and so nicely! The v-neckline trim and front gathers are very pretty. I used a zig-zag to secure hems and for topstitching.

pyjamas for Clare - Oliver + S Hopscotch top

Not much more to report about these really – Clare should be right for winter for a couple of years now, and the last pairs have been handed down to Stella. It’s two years since I made these spotty ones!

pyjama top - Oliver + s hopscotch knit top; pyjama pants - Ottobre 6/2009 patt.35

Wow, haven’t they grown!

pyjamas for Clare - Oliver + S Hopscotch top and Ottobre pants

more swooning

Well, it seems that Stella passed her URTI on to me.  But there is an upside – although we cancelled most social engagements over the weekend, and while I did feel rotten and still do – I didn’t feel so rotten that I couldn’t sew.  So while the kids rested up and watched tv and played with the dog and enjoyed the knitting nancy, I put the pedal to the floor and got quite a bit of sewing done.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

This is the Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi, a free pattern for girls (and there is a women’s version). You’ve seen it before, on Clare. And you’ll see it again! I printed off a second copy (one of the advantages of pdf patterns) and quickly taped and cut the size 5/6 for Stella. Stella is 7 years old, but quite small.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

The fabric is a super spongy ponte from Clear It (most likely from the Alannah Hill range). I’d already made myself a cardigan from it (as yet unblogged) and already knew that it would handle best with the overlocker for construction and a simple zig-zag stitch to secure the hems. So that is what I did. The edges were only turned once to the inside as the fabric is quite substantial but doesn’t fray, then zig-zagged along the edge.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

On my monitor the fabric looks incredibly bright, and a fuchsia shade. In real life it is still bright, but more towards a candy shade of pink than a fuchsia. It is quite substantial, and clearly contains a fairly high percentage of lycra. Just perfect for a child’s cardigan. Stella styled it with a dress that I originally made for Clare, and a coordinating orange hair clip. I think she’s done a great job of her outfit!

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

I like the pointed hemline and the curved princess seams at the side fronts. Although very fast to make, it’s a fashionable style and has just enough detail to look quite “now”. Maybe I’d better tape up the women’s version of the pattern too.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

And last but definitely not least, thank you all SO much for your lovely comments on the girls’ Eowyn and Ellie costumes.  I really enjoyed making them, and am pleased that you all seemed to enjoy seeing them as well!  And now time for more painkillers and a little more sewing…..

 

Ellie

Stella has been sick with a head cold since Thursday (we got the phone call to come and collect her from school after she fell asleep in the classroom….) and we really didn’t think that she would make it to the book week parade this year.  In the end she perked up just enough to go in to school for an hour and join her friends to show off her costume, talk about the book it was from, and share some alliterative poems that she had written.  The kids were all SO excited; it was lovely to share in the fun with them.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

Stella has enjoyed The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley for a little while now. Our version is a 1986 hardback with beautiful illustrations by Anne Grahame Johnstone. (You might also remember the 1978 film of the book that mixed live action and animation – you can find it here on YouTube if you are interested).  The little girl in the white dress – Ellie – was the character that Stella wanted to be. Originally I hoped that we’d be able to cobble together a costume from existing clothing, and that in combination with the mob cap she would look the part. But then I got mother guilt over all the time that I’d spent on Clare’s costume, so on Thursday morning I decided to make a new dress for Stella too. She was VERY pleased that I did, so I got some mummy points there.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

On to the pattern details! I used two vintage patterns that were in my stash, Simplicity 8576 and Style 4247. The dress is mostly the Style pattern (the version illustrated in green), but the sleeves are from the Simplicity pattern. I also made the matching pantaloons from the Style pattern, but Stella refused to wear them as they were “wide” and chose to wear leggings instead. Righto. I used size 6 for both the dress and the sleeves.  It’s roomy, but not ridiculously so, and Stella is rather skinny.

Ellie from The Water Babies costume - sleeves from vintage Simplicity 8576 and rest of dress from vintage Style 4247

And the fabric? Would you believe that I didn’t have any crisp white cotton in stash? So I used an old sheet. And the more eagle eyed of you will have already noticed that it is not a consistent shade of white around the dress. Should have bleached it first. That is what you get for using an old sheet. The parts of the dress cut from the edges of the sheet (utilising the selvedges so I wouldn’t have to finish the edges) are a lovely crisp white. The parts cut from the centre? Not so much. Is that too much information for you?

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I cut the skirt in one piece utilising the sheet hem as the hem, and added the tucks and the lace as per the pattern. Cotton is so easy to work with, and having the skirt already hemmed saved a bit of time. The laces were all in my stash, and were mostly vintage as well.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I did take some short cuts. This dress is meant to be fully lined; I left out the lining entirely. Seam allowances were either not finished at all (if cut from the edge of the sheet) or they were pinked or overlocked. And the bias neck band had one edge overlocked so that after it was attached I could just turn it to the inside them top-stitch it in place knowing that there would be plenty of fabric to be caught in the stitching. This is something that I would usually turn under and hand-stitch on the wrong side of the dress. By hey, this is a costume – and one with a deadline!

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I used an invisible zipper in the centre back seam to close the dress – and hey, check out how well I matched the waist seam across the zipper! I shall blow my own trumpet on that one! But don’t notice that it needs a hook and eye at the top of the neckline. I didn’t add one. Lazy.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

The sleeves frankenpatterned in very easily. The notches matched perfectly, and then I just gathered the sleeve cap in to fit. I took another short cut with the sleeves though. The puffed upper sleeve is meant to be sewn to a stay, to maximise the amount of puff. I left the stay out, and simply gathered the upper sleeve to the lower sleeve and to the armhole. The upper puffed part of the sleeve is cut on the bias, so using the stay would be a great idea for extra puff and I’ll remember it if I use this pattern again. There is also an elbow dart in the lower sleeve to make it conform more nicely to the body. I have to say that I love vintage patterns for those sorts of details. They’re not hard to do and make things fit so much better. The main dress also includes darts at the back shoulder, with the same pleasing result for better fit.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

The mob cap was made from a small remnant of embroidered cotton that I had in stash, with pre-gathered broderie anglaise sewn to the edges and pink ribbon for trim. It is double layered with elastic threaded through a casing. I used this tutorial which removed the need for me to think.  Sometimes I like not to have to think (maybe because I am coming down with a cold as well).

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

Cost wise, this dress was essentially “free” as everything came from stash (or the linen cupboard). Time wise, it possibly took around six hours to make, including the cap and pantaloons. I do wish that I’d realised that the sheet wasn’t a consistent colour before I started sewing, but will give the dress a good soak in some bleach and see what difference that makes. Some of the other school mums thought it would be ideal as a first communion/confirmation dress – but as we aren’t Catholic, that isn’t likely to happen!

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I’m glad that Stella got to join her classmates for the fun of the book week parade, but as you can see it wasn’t long after we got home that I found her on the couch like this. Poor little mite.

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