adult's clothing · children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · teen · tween

Love a bit of colour

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – sometimes you just need a instant gratification sew, and a circle skirt is the way to do it.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

Clare loves a circle skirt, and she loves scuba. This brightly printed highly polyester fabric came from Spotlight. Digital prints really are a gift!

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

I used one of the myriad of circle skirt calculators that are available to figure out what radius to use. This is really easy – I fold the fabric in half, then in half the opposite way so that I have a square with folds along two edges. Try it with a piece of paper and you’ll know what I mean. Then measure the radius curve from the corner with all the folds.  Then measure the length that you want – Clare requested 17 inches. Cut – and tada! One doughnut. All you need now is to add the waistband, and when it’s just wide elastic, that’s super easy.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

Sew the elastic into a circle (matching thread helps), overlock it to the right side of the skirt, then flip it so that the overlocking is on the inside. And you’re done. No hemming required with scuba fabrics.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

As it turns out, Clare would have preferred the elastic to be covered by the same fabric as the rest of the skirt, but I wasn’t inspired to change it. I have done that before though and it’s also straightforward. The joy of stretch fabrics!

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

If you need better instructions than my hastily typed efforts, take a look at these circle skirt calculators:

There are a myriad of others – Google and YouTube are your friends.

children's clothing · kids clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Sims inspired for Stella

What would you do if your tween showed you a photo of an outfit that she’d just dressed her Sim in and asked you to sew her a real life version?

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

What I did was sigh deeply, then say that of course I could sew something similar! And I jumped on to the Lekala website to see what I could come up with. I came up with these two patterns.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

I plugged in Stella’s measurements, and around 15 minutes later I was printing off the patterns (yes, Lekala are that fast). Then it was into the car for a trip to Spotlight for fabrics. Stella wasn’t with me, so we had a pretty funny Whatsapp video call for her to select the fabrics that she preferred. I bought them, came home again, and a few hours later we had this!

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Not the same as the original dress, but definitely Sim inspired! So, on to the details. I’ll start with the skirt.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The pattern is Lekala 4645, described as ‘double skirt’.  Waist measurement is the key for this style.  There is a zip set into the left side seam, and the waistband closes with a button and buttonhole.  As is always the case with Lekala patterns, the instructions are fairly brief.  It helps if you’ve sewn a lot before, or have a sewing reference handy to assist with any potentially tricky bits such as zip insertion.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The fabrics are cotton sateen. We thought that it would have the right amount of body and oomph for the style, and it definitely does. While this was a perfect choice of fabric for the skirt, I don’t think that it worked quite as well for the top.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The top is Lekala 4656 and the recommended fabrics for this one are ‘blouse fabric, lace’. The cotton sateen is okay, but something drapier would work better with the centre front pleats, and the edge finishes would look neater.  A combination of the fabric type, self fabric bias strip finishing and the fact that it’s sewn in a rather small size makes the armholes and necklines bulkier than I’d prefer.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

That said, the fit overall is pretty good and allows for a fair bit of growing room (much needed for Stella at the moment). I chose to sew a separate skirt and top rather than combine them into a dress because I thought that there was more chance of future wear if they were separates. I suspect that I’m right and that the skirt will get much more wear than the top.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

You can see that there is plenty of room in the top! It was also very long – I chopped a fair bit off it and there was still plenty left to tuck in. That’s one of the hazards of using Women’s patterns for a tween, despite it being drafted to measurements.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

One happy tween – and therefore a happy mother!  It was fun to work together to turn her vision into reality.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

New Look 6389 dress

Because Stella has had a growth spurt, clothes have moved more quickly than usual from Clare’s wardrobe to hers.  Stella is about two years ahead of Clare (maybe a little more) in height for her age.  Outgrown garments used to go from Clare’s wardrobe into plastic tubs for a couple of years before they entered Stella’s wardrobe – now it’s straight from one wardrobe to the other.  They are wearing the same size shoes (pretty much the same size as me) so there’s no more passing those on!  I wonder if Stella will end up taller or if she’s just doing her growing earlier?  Clare didn’t really have a growth ‘spurt’ as such – she just kept on steadily growing and is now quite an average height among her peers.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

So, the point of all this? I sewed New Look 6389 in the romper version for Clare a couple of years ago, and Stella is now wearing it. Seeing Stella in it prompted me to pull out the pattern again and sew the dress version. Mind you, Stella made all the design choices. Dress, high-low hem, halter neck strap, tie belt at the waist.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

I’ve mentioned before that New Look have some terrific tween/teen patterns. Kids can be awkward to sew for once they’re no longer little kids. Height, breadth, development, they all vary so much from kid to kid. These cover quite a size range, up to girls size 16, which really helps when sewing for kids that are still kid shaped but larger overall, who wouldn’t fit properly into the shaping of adult patterns.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

With my girls sizing issues are always at the other end of the spectrum. They’re pretty skinny (which I have to say isn’t due to their abundance of exercise or any disdain for eating junk food – it’s just the way that they are built) and they’ve generally been quite short for their age. Stella is no longer short for her age – she’s one of the taller kids among her peers now – but she’s still skinny. Because I this I chose a style with elastic, which allows for fitting adjustability, and I cut size 10 in the width of the bodice and skirt but size 12 in the length of the bodice and skirt.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

New Look patterns are also quite consistent in their sizing, so once you’ve worked out what you need to do in one pattern, you can pretty much apply the same principles across the board. Of course, what you need to do will depend on who you are sewing for!

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

The fabric is from very deep stash – I think that it was originally part of June’s stash (a friend’s mum who kindly passed the bulk of her stash on to me when she moved into a retirement village). It’s a John Kaldor woven, possibly polyester, but amazingly good quality. I suspect it’s from the early 80s, guessing from the fabric width and the type of print. It’s random little black dashes on a coral background. Stella chose it. It was fabulous fabric to work with, and had just enough texture that it wasn’t slippery at all.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

I sewed it predominantly on the sewing machine, using the overlocker to finish seam allowances. I decided to use the rolled hem setting on the overlocker to finish the skirt hem and the bodice flounce, rather than a narrow double turned hem. I think that this was a good decision, especially for the bodice flounce. It is a true flounce, cut as a curve, rather than a frill cut straight. This gives it lovely flare along the bottom edge, much better suited to a rolled hem.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

From the pattern website: Girls’ pattern includes pull-on jumpsuit, romper, short dress and high low dress each with elastic waist. Jumpsuit and short dress have halter neckline, romper has straps with bows, and high low dress has thick straps.

newlook-girls-pattern-6389-envelope-front

 

newlook-girls-pattern-6389-front-back-view

The cover claim of ‘easy’ is correct – there’s nothing too complex in either sewing or fitting this garment.  I did try it on Stella and adjust the elastic to size, which I’d recommend over just trusting the elastic lengths given in the pattern.  This pattern has been around for a few years now, and I’m not sure how long New Look keep things in print.  If you’ve got a tween girl to sew for I’d recommend adding this to stash.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Girl on the Go dress – the summer version

I’ve said before that Stella is quite particular about the way that her clothes feel (as well as fit).  She likes soft, comfortable fabrics.  Actually, who doesn’t!  I’ve sewn the Oliver & S Girl on the Go dress twice already, both times with sleeves, and she’s worn them quite a bit.  Time for a summer version!

Oliver and S Girl on the Go dress in knit from Crafty Mamas Fabrics

The fabric is from Crafty Mamas Fabrics. It’s a European knit in cotton/spandex, it’s super soft and extremely good quality. I had just enough to eke out the dress by cutting one pair of the ties on the wrong grain. I figured that it wouldn’t matter to much, especially if I then paired one from the cross grain with one on the lengthwise grain. It’s a directional print but I doubt that you’d notice that it’s going different ways on the ties.

Oliver and S Girl on the Go dress in knit from Crafty Mamas Fabrics

I always rave about Oliver & S patterns, and others from the same stable. They are always beautifully drafted, have great instructions, are fairly timeless in design, and the A4 pdf is arranged to minimise paper waste. They’ve always designed their pdf patterns like that actually – it’s something that lots of other designers could really learn from! None of this ‘just split the single sheet up into lots of A4 sheets no matter where the dividing lines go’ – with Oliver & S each pattern piece is thoughtfully laid out on the A4 to fit together nicely. They do also provide wide format if you want to take it to a printer – it’s always the last page of their pdf.

Oliver and S Girl on the Go dress in knit from Crafty Mamas Fabrics

Stella does up the ties really tight at the front, so they pull the dress in at the back. There is actually plenty of room in it. I sewed size 10 – Stella is quite tall for her age now (eleven and a half), but she’s still skinny.

Oliver and S Girl on the Go dress in knit from Crafty Mamas Fabrics

This pattern really is simple done well. The shoulder seams are slightly forward, everything is beautifully shaped to sit properly on the body. People are three dimensional, and the pattern takes that into account. From the pattern website: This simple pull-on dress and top is designed for knit fabrics with a little stretch. The View A dress features a fun front tie detail and short sleeves, while View B makes a classic top with 3/4-length sleeves. Both styles include a neck facing with topstitching detail and a forward shoulder for a comfortable fit. You’ll love the look, feel, and versatility of this dress and top which make great wardrobe basics for every girl on the go.

olv-os055gg2_prod_full

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 9.09.19 am

This pattern goes up to a girls size 18 (so those smaller adults that fancy it, I reckon it would fit!) so I suspect that it will get more use in years to come.  Highly recommended.

Oliver and S Girl on the Go dress in knit from Crafty Mamas Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

McCalls 7459 for Stella

Pinafores and overalls are all the rage at the moment!  Clare is keen for me to sew her an ‘overalls dress’, but the pattern we fancy isn’t available in Australia yet.  In the meantime, I sewed a pinafore for Stella!  This was also part of my ‘the kids are away and I miss them so I will sew for them’ binge.

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

Stella was keen on a flared skirt – she likes to twirl! The pattern is McCalls 7459.

m7459_a

There are quite a few options with this pattern.  Stella definitely wanted the traditional overall style bib of views A/D/E, and preferred the flared skirt of A and B over the gathered skirt.

m7459

With that decision made, I needed to figure out what size to sew.  Stella has been through a major growth spurt this year – actually, a couple of weeks ago we had to throw out all of her shoes and buy replacements, because the ones in her wardrobe were three sizes too small!  Her feet are the same size as mine now!  She’s been growing up and up and up, but is still pretty skinny.  Choosing a size is hard.  In the end I sewed girls size 12.  It’s great in length, but probably still too wide.  Fortunately that really isn’t much of an issue with this type of style, and I do want to allow for a bit of growing room!

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

 

The denim comes from M. Recht, and I have to say that it’s lovely stuff. I never regret buying denim from them – it’s excellent quality. I went to Jimmy Buttons for the hardware for the buttons and buckles. That reminds me, because I chose to make the straps adjustable I lengthened them substantially when cutting out, as I knew that I’d be threading them through the buckles. The pattern is designed for standard fixed buttons and buttonholes.

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

There’s a zip in the side seam too – I used a fairly heavy weight metal one that I had in stash. There’s also a button at the waistband opening. I really don’t do a great job of hammering in those buttons – I often bend them a bit. It probably just takes practice, and I haven’t got the amount of pressure quite right. You need to bang hard enough for it to be secure, but not so hard that you make the button and it’s backing go out of shape!

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

As you can see, the pinafore is topstitched throughout. I used regular thread with a triple stitch, as I find that this gives me the best topstitching effect on denim. I’ve tried using upholstery thread in the past, but still prefer the finish I get with regular thread and a triple stitch.

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

I really hope that Stella gets some decent wear from this – it’s a trans-seasonal garment, and she really did need a few new things added to her wardrobe!  We’re fortunate that my niece has a daughter who is five years younger than Stella, so we pass everything that Stella has outgrown down to her to keep or to redistribute among her friends.  Stella’s wardrobe now looks the emptiest it’s ever been!

McCalls 7459 size 12 in denim from M Recht

children's clothing · sewing · tween

McCalls 7708 for Clare

During the last school holidays my husband took the girls on a road trip to visit the town he grew up in (Mount Gambier, in South Australia).  I had to stay behind and work, but while they were away I also indulged in some ‘I-miss-you’ sewing and made a garment for each of them.  I’ll start with the top that I sewed for Clare.

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is McCalls 7708, a girls’ top pattern.  I think it’s basically the kid version of the very popular McCalls 7542. I find that girls’ pattern still fit Clare better through the shoulders and upper chest than most adult patterns at the moment.  Clare is finally taller than me (by a whole 3cm) but is not very broad at all.  For skirts/shorts/pants we vacillate between the size ranges, depending on the cut and what measurement is the most important (waist versus hips).

m7708_a

McCalls description of the pattern is rather brief. ‘Tops have sleeve variations and back button closure.’  Oh really!

m7708

I texted a link to the pattern to Clare so that she could choose the sleeves that she preferred, and she chose view D, the floaty sleeves that overlap at the top.  They’re very dramatic, yet straightforward to construct.  The sleeve edge is narrow hemmed before the sleeve head is overlapped at the markings and basted, then the sleeve is inserted as usual.

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

After a quick look at the pattern pieces I was certain that I’d be able to cut the centre back on the fold and dispense with the centre back opening. There would be plenty of room to get this on over Clare’s head. I elected to finish the neckline with bias binding sewn on right sides together then turned to the inside and machine stitched in place. It’s a finish that I often use for necklines, rather than using facings, and I really like it – especially in shifty fabrics like this printed viscose woven from Darn Cheap Fabrics (yes, it was leftover from another project).

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I was a little concerned that the top might be a fraction short, but it turns out that she really likes this length. It works well with her higher waisted bottoms, but there’s still enough length to tuck it in if she wants to. And I have to say that this top goes beautifully with her new glasses from Dresden (made from recycled fishing nets)!

McCalls 7708 in viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing

Seussical costume

The local high school recently put on a production of Seussical the Musical, and invited a couple of local primary schools to be involved as citizens of Whoville.  Stella is a keen performer, who takes dance and voice lessons outside of school, and she was thrilled to take part in Seussical.  My involvement was in making a costume.

Seussical outfit

The brief was strong primary colours. Stella wanted a skirt and leggings, and there was the perfect skirt fabric in stash. I easily turned the knit-printed scuba into a circle skirt on an elastic waistband after referring to one of the myriad of circle skirt tutorials that are available online. The leggings are the Go To Patterns leggings pattern, sewn in size 12. And originally I also sewed a long-sleeved tee from the Hey June City Park tee pattern, also in size 12.

Seussical outfit

In the end the kids were all provided with tee-shirts with pom poms attached, so she didn’t need the purple tee that I’d sewn. The kids all had a marvellous time performing, and of course I think that Stella was outstanding! It’s a really fun production and I’m really pleased that the primary school kids had the opportunity to be part of it. Stella was also thrilled that we let her temporarily dye her hair red for the occasion.

Seussical outfit