adult's clothing · sewing · teen · tween

Kami skirt for Clare

Short tiered skirts are in all the teen shops at the moment.  Every time Clare points them out, I say ‘I could sew that’.  Then I procrastinate, because I know I’ll need to figure out lengths and proportions and sometimes thinking is hard.  But as it turned out, I didn’t have to do any mental gymnastics, because (unsurprisingly) there is a tutorial for exactly the sort of skirt that Clare wanted.

Kami skirt by The Hemming in cotton from Borneo

The tutorial is called the Kami Skirt, and it’s from a blog called The Hemming. She provides the measurements for Australian sizes 6 (60cm waist) to 16 (85cm waist).  I used the size 8 measurements as a guide for Clare.

Kami skirt by The Hemming in cotton from Borneo

This is another Borneo souvenir garment! Clare chose this printed cotton (actually, it feels as though it has some viscose content as it’s quite soft) at Fabriko in Kuching. Once again I took advantage of the border print by cutting the lower tier on the crossgrain. I used the full length of the fabric we’d bought, which was less than the pattern suggestion, but it still worked out okay. It just means that the lower tier in Clare’s skirt is less full than that in the tutorial. Still seems to have an adequate level of twirl and swish!

Kami skirt by The Hemming in cotton from Borneo

Rather than roll hemming the skirt, I chose to do folded and stitched hems. It’s always slightly awkward to attach the lower tier on the outside of the top tier to create the little frill – you need to make sure that it’s overlapped evenly right along. I’d turned a hem, so that also formed a ‘line’ that I could feel so that I could line it up evenly.

Kami skirt by The Hemming in cotton from Borneo

It’s one piece wide elastic in the waist, sewn through to give the appearance of three channels. The tie is just for decoration – it’s non-functional. It took me four episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to cut out and sew this skirt, and I think it would be even faster to sew a second time. But how many of these skirts does a teen need in her wardrobe? I’m not sure.

Kami skirt by The Hemming in cotton from Borneo

The top that she’s wearing with the skirt was bought in Kota Kinabalu, at E-teen (like Supre). I can’t claim credit for sewing the top, just the skirt.

family · sewing · teen · tween

Style Arc Bonnie top and Clare pants

As well as sewing Clare pants for Clare, I sewed a pair for Stella, and paired it with a Style Arc Bonnie top in the same fabric for the look of a jumpsuit without the impractability.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

I reviewed the pants extensively in my previous blog post. For Stella I reprinted the pattern and sewed size 4, the smallest size. Once again I shortened the leg length about two inches before cutting out.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

This pattern works equally well on Stella as it did on Clare. It’s interesting sewing for the two of them at the moment. Genetics are strong! They’re pretty much the same shape, with Stella a couple of inches shorter and just one size smaller all over. Stella did her growing at a much earlier age than Clare did, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the two are pretty much the same height and sizes in about another year or two.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s a textured rayon, in a blue-green (teal?) colour that really suits Stella. Unfortunately the textured, more open-weave areas do catch very easily and tear, as we discovered the first time she wore the pants when she climbed a tree (she is still twelve)! I had enough scraps to patch it, but have spotted quite a few pulls in various places after subsequent wears.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

So, on to the top! It’s a modification of view B of the Style Arc Bonnie woven top. This is another pattern that I bought in the multi-sized version, because I reckon that I am likely to sew it multiple times for multiple people.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

From the pattern website: This wonderful new pattern comes with two options; A & B. Pattern “A” Features a slightly cropped body length, relaxed fit with bust darts. With a round neck and a functional back opening that can be buttoned this sleeveless top is the up to the moment look. For those that prefer a more covered garment there’s option “B”. Featuring a square shaped body and dropped shoulder line with an optional buttoned tab. The body length is longer and has a buttoned back, round neck as option “A”. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, crepe, cotton, rayon.

bonnie-woven-tops

Stella didn’t want the buttons down the back, or on the shoulder tabs. This was an easy change – I just folded the back pattern piece to the centre back (where the buttonholes were marked) and cut the back piece on the fold. I made a corresponding modification to the back neckline facing. This style decision also made it an extremely fast garment to sew. No buttonholes or buttons – the shoulder tabs are just stitched in place.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

I sewed size 4 for Stella, so you can see that this is a very roomy style.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

Stella wore this outfit to our Christmas Day celebrations. She seemed cool and comfy in it, plus the pants have the all important pockets in which to stash her Christmas present – her first iPhone.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

As it turned out, we all wore something sewn by me on Christmas Day – and so did Mum!

2019-12-25 10.45.28-2

I thought that some of you might like to see this next photo of my parents (Dad is ninety-two), my brother and I, and the two granddaughters.  We’re a small family (in numbers as well as in height), and we really span the ages.  Dad was eighty when Stella was born!  After this photo was taken we headed to an extended family lunch, where there were forty of us – Mum’s siblings and their partners, all the children of the next generation (my cousins) and their partners, then all of the generation below who range in age from two to twenty-two.  Quite an achievement to get us all together from three different states and many different cities.  My daughters each have a second cousin very close to them in age and it was beautiful to watch them interacting with one another and finding common interests.

Finlayson family

 

sewing · teen · tween

The grade six graduation dress

It’s been a big year for our family (although I suspect that I say that every year).  Stella finished primary school last week, and one of the final events of the year was the grade six graduation evening.  Which of course required a special mummy-made dress!

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

Stella chose the George and Ginger Starstruck bodice, with the high-low skirt from the Mix It Up dress.   I was dubious about it at first, but in the fabric and colourway that Stella chose it was just perfect for her!  At twelve years old, it can be difficult to land on styles that are age-appropriate, fit nicely, and fulfill the vision in a tween’s head.  In the end this dress ticked all the boxes.

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

From the pattern website: The Star Struck is an add-on bodice to our best-selling Mix It Up pattern–it works with all of the fabulous skirts in the MIU!  This fitted, push-up bodice features a star-cage style and a flattering waistband.  Leave off the cross straps for a completely different look…or add lace or trim for unique detailing!  No matter how you sew it, it’s a stunner! This pattern DOES include one simple peplum skirt to make it a stand alone design.  But feel free to try it out with all of the skirt options in the Mix It Up–or get creative and add your own skirt! Suggested fabric for this pattern is a stable knit with at least 50% stretch.

gg_star_struck_us_letter_pattern_page_01_740x

That part about the fabric stretch percentage recommendation is very important – you may remember an earlier blog post of mine where I wrote about salvaging a skirt from a failed dress due to incorrect stretch percentage!  This time we chose a very stretchy performance knit from Spotlight as the main fabric.  It worked beautifully.

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

As designed, the area at the bottom point of the star in the centre of the bodice is left open.  This results in a dress that exposes quite a bit of cleavage – which looks great on all the adults I’ve seen in this dress, but isn’t so suitable for a twelve year old!  And there was no way that she was interested in wearing it that way either.  We filled in the centre point with a simple triangular shaped insert sewn behind it.

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

The bodice is all double layered, including the midriff section. This means that the seams are all enclosed and it’s comfortable to wear. I sewed the contrasting scraps in a viscose/spandex knit that I had somewhere in my stash. I tried the bodice on to get the strap length right before I sewed them in place, but as it turned out they did stretch out a bit during the evening (with lots of vigorous dancing in the disco they had after the graduation dinner). No wardrobe malfunctions, but I’ll need to shorten them a little more. The straps are four layers and are cut against the direction of stretch, so would generally be quite stable, but this fabric has a bit more spandex in it so they had more give.

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

We really like the shape of the back neckline too! The whole dress is in tween size 12 for Stella. I made the high-low skirt four inches longer than the pattern piece, which was really for a peplum. There are no seams in the skirt, and the hem was left raw, which works for this fabric. Much of the construction was on the sewing machine, with the overlocker used just for side seams and for attaching the skirt to the bodice.  The instructions for sewing this bodice are very clear and easy to follow, and there’s also a tutorial on Youtube.

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

Of course, the name Stella means ‘star’ – so the star shape on the bodice really was perfect for Stella! We also discovered at the graduation ceremony that Stella hopes to be an actor or a singer or a dancer one day – so it’s very appropriate in that way too. As it happens, Stella is quite talented in those areas (her singing voice has developed beautifully) so who knows what she will end up doing one day!

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

We’re so proud of our girl – she’s such a unique character, with so much love, empathy and kindness in her. Her smile really does light up a room. Here’s to the end of primary school, and to a wonderful time in secondary school next year!

George and Ginger Starstruck dress

adult's clothing · sewing · teen · tween

Pattern Emporium Harem pants

Some readers may have picked up on my comments about our forthcoming trip to Borneo.  We leave in only five days, hooray!  Borneo has lots of jungle, and lots of jungle has lots of insects.  The girls needed some cool summer pants that would keep both sun and insects off their legs.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

I turned to Pattern Emporium again and used their women’s Harem pants pattern. There is also a kid’s version. My girls are small, but their waist/hip ratio means that the women’s patterns work better for them in bottoms than kids’ patterns do. I sewed size 6 for Stella and size 8 for Clare, which pretty much aligned with their measurements.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

From the Pattern Emporium website:

  • 2 Fits: Slimline & Relaxed
  • Tapered legs for a flattering fit
  • Full elastic waist
  • Elastic ankle finish
  • Easy fit
  • Low waistline
  • Pockets – 3 Easy Pocket Options, 2 Intermediate Pocket Options 
  • 2 Waistline Options – Elastic, Drawstring
  • 3 Leg Finishes – Elastic, Lounge Pant, Tab Front

Pattern Emporium Harem Pants

We decided on style D, with the curved topstitched pockets and elasticised cuffs, in the slimline fit.  I added two inches to the rise of the pants by extending straight up from the crotch and the side seams of the front and back leg pieces, and made the corresponding alterations to the pockets pieces as well.  My girls don’t like to wear their clothes on their hips; they really prefer a high waist with the waistband where they are smallest.  That’s a major change for Clare who spent her primary school years with everything pulled down onto her hips!

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

The fabrics are all rayon prints (all wovens) from Spotlight. Stella came with me to choose them. I am always fascinated by her choices – they’re not always predictable! I made sure that I prewashed all the fabrics before cutting out, as is my usual practice. Rayon shrinks. These were straightforward to sew, especially once I got to the fourth pair! The girls are happy with them, and I think that they will be perfect for the Bornean jungle.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

sewing · teen · tween

George and Ginger With Love dress

I’m rather pleased that I discovered George and Ginger patterns.  I haven’t sewn any for myself yet, but I love that the sizes start at tween.  It makes them so useful when sewing for my daughters!

George and Ginger With Love dress

This dress was an impulse sew. I think that I had the pattern bought, printed, taped, cut out and sewn up in less than two hours from when I came across it. It’s the With Love Dress. Very simple and straightforward, easy to wear garment.

George and Ginger With Love dress

From the pattern website: With Love is a dolman style dress with a flattering elastic waistband.  Perfect for spring and summer, it is a quick sew with stunning results!  Dress and maxi length options, along with side vents on the maxi version. Suggest fabric for this dress is a 2-way lightweight jersey or rayon spandex knit for better drape.  However, any knit fabric, including cotton lycra or sweater knit, with at least 50% stretch will work.

With Love dress line art

I chose to sew the tween 14 top, graded to women’s 0 through the waist and hips.  We’re happy with the resulting fit, although it actually looks quite good on Stella too!  Stella is basically the same shape and proportions as Clare, just one size smaller, so it’s roomier on her, but not so much that it’s too big. Clare wasn’t especially thrilled that it also fitted and looked nice on her four and half years younger sister….

George and Ginger With Love dress

As you’d imagine there isn’t much to this dress.  Same pattern piece for the front/back skirt and same pattern piece for the front/back bodice, the front neckline cut deeper than the back.  The neckline is finished wth a binding rather than a band, which is a neckline finish that I am becoming more and more drawn to.  The waistline casing is formed by stitching the bodice and skirt together, running another line of stitching an inch further in, then pressing that up and topstitching it to the bodice while leaving an opening for elastic insertion.  It’s drafted so that the waistline is fitted, without there being excess blousinesses.

George and Ginger With Love dress

The fabric was an op shop find, but I have been reliably informed that it is a rayon/spandex knit originally from Spotlight. Such a cute border print! Clare feels that this dress is a nice casual summer wardrobe addition. I suspect that I’ll sew another at some stage.

sewing · teen · tween

Mix It Up Dress

Sometimes it is really difficult to sew for others.  Getting the sizing right, getting the combination of fabric and pattern right, getting the fit right, and attempting to ensure that the finished product matches with the vision in the other person’s head.  Sewing for Stella is no exception.  She really does know what she likes, and is quite particular about how she wants things to fit.  So I try to involve her in the sewing process as much as possible.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

Stella chose the fabric and the pattern for this dress, and chose which elements of the pattern she wanted. It’s the Mix It Up dress by George and Ginger, and I was drawn to it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it starts with tween sizes. Hooray! It’s not easy to find patterns that work for Stella – she’s really shot up in height over the last year and is changing shape, but she’s still very slight and has narrow shoulders. We’ve had the frustration of trying to find clothes that fit to her specifications in the shops (although Pavement has proven to be successful, if anyone is looking to buy tween/teen clothes) so it really is handy that I sew. The other reason we liked the Mix It Up pattern is because it allows you to do exactly that – mix it up!

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

From the pattern website: The Mix It Up Dress is an all-in-one design that’s perfect for mixing and matching your favorite styles!  Five front bodice, five back bodices, six sleeve lengths (including sleeveless) and five skirt versions–all interchangeable and ready to be customized just for you! PATTERN OPTIONS:

  • Front Bodice – yoke, horseshoe, leaf, keyhole and asymmetric
  • Back Bodice – yoke, square, diamond, keyhole and full closure
  • Sleeves – sleeveless, cap, short, elbow, 3/4 and long
  • Skirts – full circle (peplum, mini, dress), half circle (peplum, mini, dress), handkerchief (peplum, mini, dress), hi-lo tunic (short and long) AND fitted skirt to add to peplum, hi-lo or stand alone

imagejpg_740x

Stella liked the look of the Leaf front bodice and Keyhole back bodice, with short sleeves and a Hi-Lo skirt.  I started off by sewing a muslin in a lightweight stretch scuba type of fabric that was in my stash and had been rejected for other projects.  Size wise I used Tween 12, the smallest size.

Mix It Up muslin

Mix It Up muslin

I was so glad that I’d done the muslin! I’ll start with the obvious issue – that hi-lo skirt isn’t a full length skirt – it’s for a tunic or to be used as a peplum in conjunction with a straight skirt! Clearly I failed to read that part of the pattern information properly. So this muslin is way too short as drafted. The second issue was the waist seam – it’s way too high. Stella’s circumferential measurements are much smaller than the corresponding size for her height. The armhole depth was okay, so I figured that if I added an inch and a half to the bottom of the bodice pieces that would get the waist seam into a better position.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit Stella chose the fabric – it’s a very stretchy fabric from Spotlight, I have a vague recollection that it was labelled as a performance knit or similar. It’s a lighter weight fabric than my initial muslin, which made it very easy to do the keyhole and back ties, as well as getting a nice result on the ‘leaf’ front bodice. The bodice of this dress is fully lined, and easily constructed. George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

I added four inches all around to the length of the hi-low skirt. Why didn’t you just use the pattern pieces for the full circle skirt, I hear you ask? Two reasons – I’d already printed and taped the hi-lo piece, and I wanted to cut the skirt completely on the fold and have it seamless. I also moved the ‘hole’ template about an inch toward the skirt back to alter the degree of high compared to low so that it was slightly less dramatic. The skirt was hemmed with a simple straight stitch. It could do with another press.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

She’s happy, and that’s what it’s all about! There’s every chance that this pattern will be used again – Clare has been eyeing it off too and suggesting combinations. Although the sizing starts at Tween 12, it goes up to Women’s size 26. Take a look at the pattern page or join the Facebook group to see some of the combinations that others have sewn.  George and Ginger also have a YouTube channel with sewalongs etc.  Excellent pattern support for those who prefer it.

sewing · tween

Saving a failure

So, what do you do when you decide to ignore the fabric stretch percentage recommendation and sew a dress for your daughter that she can’t get on no matter how hard she tries?

High low skirt

I cut off the bodice, enlarged the waist opening so that it would wriggle up over her hips, and added a waistband made from wide black elastic.

High low skirt

She seemed happy enough with this partial save – sadly there was no way that I could effectively make the original bodice fit her properly, despite my best efforts. Good thing that she had a tee that coordinates!

High low skirt

And the best thing about a full circle high-low skirt? The twirl factor, of course!

High low skirt

So, the moral of the story: when sewing a pattern that is designed for knits, pay attention to the recommended stretch percentage. Especially if it relies on negative ease to fit the bodice well. Learn from my mistakes! And then save what you can of the garment, if you can.

High low skirt