children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Mountain Ash Designs two-piece

Before we went to Cairns Clare decided that she needed new bathers.  She wanted a two-piece, but one that would be practical.  We searched the stash, then searched online.  We found the Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates #1 pattern.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

The pattern description from the website is as follows: Make your own tankinis and bikinis using this pdf sewing pattern with options for a crop top or singlet top and briefs for swimming. Garments are designed to be made from stretch fabric and can be sewn using an overlocker/ serger or a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. Pattern will fit girls in sizes 2-14 years.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

I have already forgotten what sizes we sewed for Clare, but we pretty much looked at the sizing chart and went by that. It was possibly a 12 for the pants and a 10 for the crop top. The fabric is a swimwear nylon/lycra remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics, and the lining probably came from there as well. I fully lined both the bottoms and the top by cutting the pattern pieces from the lining as well then laying the two together after sewing side seams. Edges were finished with neon orange fold over elastic that was in my stash.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

The straps were criss-crossed at the back, tried on and pinned in place before sewing to ensure that they were the right length. As I had just enough leftover fabric, I also made another wrap bikini top to coordinate.  Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of that one yet! It’s based on the Madalynne Sierra bra, modified to work in swimwear lycra.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

Bathers are surprisingly satisfying to sew.  I think that these were done entirely on the sewing machine, with a straight stitch to join the side seams and a zig-zag stitch to attach the fold over elastic.  You get better at how much tension to put on the elastic the more that you do it.  You can’t see it clearly in the photos, but this fun fabric has a glittery overprint.  There are terrific bathers fabrics around, especially at shops like Rathdowne Fabrics.  I find that no matter what I do, bathers really only last a year, so I’m glad that I enjoy sewing them!  I’m amassing a rather nice stash of women’s bathers patterns to sew as Clare and Stella get older.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

yet another circle skirt

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

It’s a skirt. It’s a circle. It has an elastic waist. And the hem was left raw.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

The fabric is a textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics, and the waistband wide black elastic from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I cut the elastic to her waist measurement, and sewed the ends into a circle. The skirt was “drafted” using one of the online circle skirt calculators that is available online, using Clare’s waist measurement and the desired length. It is a full circle, and fitted onto the fabric without the need for any seams – so I essentially cut out a donut shape.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

And yes, it twirls! Even thirteen year old girls like a twirl.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

I simply zig-zagged the skirt to the elastic waistband after quarter marking both. So simple. As it turns out, Clare is wearing it with the waistband turned over once to shorten it a little. Just like she does with the winter school uniform skirt….

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

So, if you’re looking for some tween/teen sewing for a girl that likes skirts, don’t forget the simple circle skirt, especially in a knit with an elastic waistband. Just choose a fabric that they like, and it will be a winner!

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Vintage Simplicity 6494 and another Groove top

More sewing for the thirteen year old!  I find that vintage patterns can work well for Clare. The girls patterns have a decent size range – often up to a 16 – and sometimes you can find “Juniors” patterns that were designed especially for changing bodies.  However, this skirt is a straightforward Girls size 10.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I have mentioned before that after years and years of wearing skirts and pants down low on her hips, Clare now wants to wear things at her natural waist. This means that she is re-examining her tops as well in order to find things that work better with her bottoms. She rather liked the Groove dress as top that I had already made, so I sewed her another.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

This time I cut the top slightly longer – only an inch or so. The striped fabric is from Clear It and has two sides, one with wide stripes and one with narrower. We decided to use the narrower stripe as the “right side” for the sleeves and the neckband.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

This time I did sew a proper neckband, cutting a strip to length, folding it in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, then sewing it to the right side of the neckline with the overlocker. I stitched it down from the right side with a twin needle to secure it. Hems were also twin needled.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I did go to the effort of matching the stripes through the sides of the body, so need to include a photo to show off my success. I didn’t worry too much about stripe matching with the narrow stripes of the sleeves, although they are pretty good too.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

But really, the “hero” garment of this blog post has to be the skirt. The pattern is copyright 1975.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I sewed view 1 in size 10, but found that I had to take it in quite a bit through the waist after Clare tried it on. Otherwise it is all sewn as per the pattern. There were lots of great tips and tricks throughout.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

That elastic is sewn inside the back waistband pieces, on the half of the waistband that will be against the body when the skirt is complete. It provides support and a bit of additional shaping and security. Yet from the outside it looks like a flat waistband. Very nice.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I decided – in conjunction with Clare – to use an exposed zip. There are a few different ways of doing these, depending on the finish that you want. I decided to simply stitch it to the outside of the skirt, with the ends of the zipper tape folded into a little “V” at the bottom. I sewed both close to the zipper teeth and again near the edge of the zipper tape.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I also love the little curved pockets. You can just see where I have taken in the skirt at the side waist seams in this photo, as there is now a seam in the waistband. Originally it was all one piece. If only Clare had been available to try it on at every step of the sewing process rather than me having to alter after the fact! That is one of the challenges when sewing without your model available (I think she was at school).

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I did two parallel rows of topstitching around the pockets and around the skirt hem. I used the triple stitch on my machine for these – I find that it often works better than using topstitching or upholstery thread, and my sewing machine is happier doing it too.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I am ridiculously pleased with this little skirt – with the entire outfit, actually.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

Even the scarf is one that I crocheted – it appears to have made a permanent move from my wardrobe into Clare’s.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

If you are sewing for a tween, don’t overlook vintage patterns. They might provide you with exactly what you are looking for!

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Groove dress as top

I don’t know why, but I don’t often think to do the obvious.  For example, shorten a dress into a top – or conversely, to lengthen a top into a dress.  I have no idea why it doesn’t occur to me more often.  Fortunately, a month or so ago it did.  Clare has been asking for some more tops that are casual but not too casual (yes, she’s a 13 year old) that would look good with higher waisted jeans or skirts.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

This is the Madeit Patterns Groove Dress for teens, shortened to a top.  We kept the high-low hemline, and just measured on Clare where we wanted the top to finish at the front.  The body of the top is scuba from Spotlight, so it has loads of body and retains the flare of the pattern despite the shorter length.  The neck binding and sleeves are in a much softer and stretchier double knit that was somewhere in my stash.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

You can see the curve of the hemline well when I make her twirl!

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

I sewed the smallest of the teen sizes. This pattern actually comes in adult and child sizes as well, and the teen pattern was free if you bought the adult or child sizes. So expect to see a Lara-sized Groove dress at some stage too. There are a number of style options included. From their website: The Groove Dress is an utterly covetable, swing dress made using knit fabric, with short or long sleeves and a high low or straight hemline. And as if that wasn’t enough, we went crazy to offer you five, yes five different neck options. Round, scoop, slash, cowl or hooded, whatever takes your fancy. The combinations are endless (well nearly, you do the maths).

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

The neckline is bound rather than banded. I sewed a strip of fabric to the right side with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it over the seam allowance to the wrong side, completely enclosing the seam allowance, then topstitched it a couple of mm inside the seamline to secure. Most other construction was on the overlocker, with the a machine zig-zag used to secure hems.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

Clare’s new high-waisted jeans came from Dejour Jeans in Brunswick. They make all their jeans here in Melbourne and customisation to fit you is included in the price, while you wait (or while you go and have coffee at a nearby cafe). We were thrilled to be able to buy jeans with hip and bum shaping in a small enough size to fit Clare – they took the waist in a little, altered the front rise, shortened the jeans, and narrowed the lower leg. She is rapt, and we’ll definitely be buying jeans there in the future! I love the concept that they automatically alter their jeans to fit the person, rather than the person being expected to just fit into the jeans. And they have all the equipment set up – it was great to watch the alterations people zooming through all the garment changes.  Word has got around about Dejour Jeans in recent years and they are often super busy with queues of people and sometimes shop closures due to crowds!  Apparently Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the quietest days.  Allow plenty of time if you are visiting.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

BurdaStyle top and patternless skirt

Tween sewing came up on instagram yesterday, with a question asking where are all the tween patterns? I will do a separate blog post especially about that at a later date, but in the meantime will share some current tween makes.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

Both this top and skirt are another example of using up scraps. It’s always such a satisfying feeling! Firstly, the top.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

This top is based on BurdaStyle No 144 10/2014, which is a pattern I have used before for dresses for Clare. I cut it at top length. So really, it’s just the basic pattern pieces for a raglan top – front, back sleeves. I used scuba scraps for the sleeves and scraps harvested from my friend Karen for the front and back.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I bound the neckline by applying a strip of the scuba to the neckline right sides together, stitching it down with about a 1cm seam allowance, then wrapping it around to the wrong side and stitching in the ditch from the right side. I hope that’s clear!

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I sewed the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance by machine so that I could leave this little split at the hemline. I like the added detail. All hems were secured by machine as well. This was a very fast garment to sew, and apparently filled the brief from Clare for a top that was somewhere between casual and dressy, not to loose and not too tight.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I’d sewn the skirt a month or two prior, while at Sewjourn in May. It is very straightforward. Armed with Clare’s waist measurement, and her desired skirt length, I sewed a strip of fabric into a waistband with elastic encased in the centre. Remember that this fabric is scuba, so it easily stretches enough to pull on. The elastic in the waistband provides a bit more structure and stability. Then I sewed the rest of the fabric into a tube, pinned the side seams to the waistband side seam locations, and started to play.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

I created box pleats, distributed evenly with three in the front and three in the back.  I think that in the above photo the skirt is twisted around a little bit.  This took a little bit of maths and a little bit of measuring, but basically once everything was pinned to fit and it looked okay I just went ahead and overlocked it to the waistband.  A quick hem and it was done.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

Clare now wears her skirts on her natural waist, after years of wearing them on her hips. A style like this is SO easy to make, and in a knit fabric like this scuba is comfortable to wear as well as to put on. It doesn’t look like ayet another gathered waist skirt, as the waistband is flat and the skirt fabric is pleated, but it still has some fullness. She likes it.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

If you are wanting to know what other tween patterns I have sewn over the past year or two, I have tried to remember to tag them as “tween” so you can sort by the categories drop down somewhere over there on the right.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Vintage Style 4248

Vintage Style 4248 (copyright 1985) was recently given to me by Sarah.  I so appreciate that people think of my girls when they are browsing patterns in op shops!  It only took about a minute for me to reach into my stash and pull out a length of soft spotted knit that Emma has also recently given me.  The finished dress really is a combined sewing bloggers effort!

Style 4248 copyright 1985 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So, to the pattern.  As you’ve all noticed by now, batwing sleeves and cowl necklines are definitely back in fashion again.  It’s that thirty year cycle.  After taking a look at the pattern cover Clare was quite happy for me to sew up the view with the straight skirt – as long as I made the skirt shorter.  That’s easy to do with a rectangular pattern piece!

Style 4248 copyright 1985

I sewed view 3, in the girls size 10. There is plenty of ease in this pattern, and even though these styles are back in fashion, they are not usually worn as oversized as they were in the 1980s. I did year 12 in 1985, so this dress pattern is smack bang in the middle of my teens and early adulthood. I wonder how many of you had this exact dress back in the day?

Style 4248 copyright 1985 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is super soft – it was originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics. The pattern is super simple. Front and back bodice pieces that integrate the sleeve. Rectangular cowl pattern piece, rectangular skirt pattern piece. A casing for waist elastic is made using the seam allowances where the bodice joins to the skirt. Easy peasy!

Style 4248 copyright 1985 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As is often the case, construction was pretty much all on the overlocker. I did use the sewing machine to stitch down the waist casing and to do the skirt and sleeve hems. I think that this dress came together in less than an hour. Shortening the skirt to above the knee brings it into 2016 instead of 1985 – and of course, there are no raglan shoulder pads in this version of the dress!

Style 4248 copyright 1985 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

It really is worth taking another look at those late 1970s and early to mid 1980s patterns – check at your local op shop or if you are like me, just trawl back through your pattern stash! I love this dress on Clare, and she’s pretty happy with it too. A great tween style.

Style 4248 copyright 1985 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Tween winter raglan dress

Clare spotted this fabric at Darn Cheap Fabrics when I was on a stash enhancement visit one day.  The printed side is smooth, and the reverse soft and fleecy.  She wanted an easy warm winter dress.

BurdaStyle dress 144 10/2014 in fleecy backed sweatshirt knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

It’s really just a long raglan windcheater. We based the dress on the BurdaStyle Sweater Dress 10/2014 #144, which I’d sewn for Clare last year.

BurdaStyle dress 144 10/2014 in fleecy backed sweatshirt knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I reprinted the pattern and taped pieces together to eliminate the contrasting sections.  Then I was left with a very straightforward front pattern piece, back pattern piece and sleeve pattern piece.  I cut size 146 and added some length- I remembered that last year’s dress was very short!  I cut full length sleeves, narrowing them toward the wrist, and eliminated the back zipper completely.  So really, imagine the line drawing of the original pattern simplified to the absolute basics!

144-102014-m_large

Because there was a definite “stripe” to the print, once again I had to pay attention to print matching.  I tend to match from the armholes down, and from the bottom of the armscye up for raglan sleeves.  In this case I cut the front piece first, then lined it up beside the back piece to ensure that the print would run across it properly.

BurdaStyle dress 144 10/2014 in fleecy backed sweatshirt knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I cut a neckband from black viscose spandex and cut it to length and applied it according to Gillian’s tutorial. Way easier than attempting a neckband in the self fabric, and I think a better finish than using a facing around the neckline. The black contrast just somehow finishes the otherwise super simple dress quite nicely.

BurdaStyle dress 144 10/2014 in fleecy backed sweatshirt knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Construction was all on the overlocker, but I did use the sewing machine with a twin needle to finish around the neckline and to hem the sleeves and the bottom of the dress. This was SO fast to sew. I think including printing the pattern and cutting out the dress it took around an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. And most importantly – it was exactly what Clare had envisaged. The sewing mum wins again!

BurdaStyle dress 144 10/2014 in fleecy backed sweatshirt knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Speaking of sewing mums winning, if you don’t already follow the blog Five and Counting, you definitely should.  Nicole sews the most divine clothing for her entire family, including herself, her husband, and her six children who range in age from toddler to young adult.  She does beautiful work, always incorporating the wishes of her kids into what she sews.  Her blog is a must read.