Wednesday, November 12, 2014

STYLO Restyled : Black & Blue

This is my favorite Stylo restyle so far. I've made both of these patterns before so I'll spare you the pattern review (Clover Review, Mara Review). Suffice it to say I wouldn't have made a second Mara and a third Clover if I didn't like the patterns.

I've had a chambray Mara in mind since I made the first one back in August. The weight of this beautiful chambray is perfect for an autumn top, and the subtle texture perfectly compliments the shade in the corduroy print. I got this lovely specimen at Home Made when I was "down the shore" (as the locals say) this summer. This is one of the best local sewing shops I've ever been to. Its tiny, but there isn't a single fabric there that I wouldn't love to have. I think this is the Robert Kaufman Union Chambray in Indigo, but I'm not certain, and I'm desperate for more. Winter is coming and my chambray stockpile is running low.

Our last Mara was a 5 and it seems a smidgen on the snug side, so this time I made a 6. I omitted the piping because it seemed unnecessary without a contrasting fabric. Now that I've done it I think it might have sharpened the construction even without the contrasting fabric. The 3/4 length sleeves are from the Louisa Dress (also by Compagnie M). The sleeves are meant to be interchangeable, but if you don't have the Louisa pattern, I think it would be pretty easy to just shorten the long sleeve piece included with the Mara.
The shorts are a corduroy fabric only a middle aged woman could love (given that today is my thirty-very-much-something birthday maybe I should cut out the name calling). Yet something propelled me to pay the BF Bridge toll a second time to go back to Joann and get it (not great sign about my age!). It's not something I would normally buy, but in this limited quantity it really works.  
Shirt Pattern: Mara Blouse by Compagnie M
Shirt Fit: Size 6
Shorts Pattern: Willow & Co. - Clover Shorts by Mouse House Creations
Shorts Fabric: Printed Corduroy fron Joann Fabric.
Shorts Fit: Size 6
I had really hoped to get one good photo of this whole outfit.  But asking a 4 year old to do you a favor at 7am can only result in eye rolling, yawning, and nonsense. I'm trying to dazzle you with quantity of image rather than quality (I do that some times), and I'll leave you with this:



Monday, November 10, 2014

STYLO : Gretel's Knits

My STYLO looks were inspired by these two knit pieces. The Pixie Bonnet and Heartwarmer are themes I keep coming back to. I love that they look a little vintage and homespun. Not including knits would have been like not inviting my favorite kid to the party. Here are the details:
Heartwarmer Pattern : Bless Your Heartwarmer by SweetKM 
Heartwarmer Yarn : Palette Yarn in Brindle Heather by Knit Picks 

I'm a sucker for a little girl in a heartwarmer. I tend to make brightly colored ones for L, she loves to wear them, but they rarely go with the rest of her outfit leaving us looking a little bit homeless when we're tooling around town. I love this Brindle Heather from Knit Picks. It all wool, reads as a neutral but is still firmly in the yellow family. Knit Picks Palette yarn is a fingerling weight, but this was made as a worsted weight by knitting with two strands at once. Its a technique I've been using a lot to mix my own custom colors, or create my own bulky weight yarn. My Stylo heartwarmer is a slight variation on the Bless Your Heartwarmer Pattern. To get the articulated spine down the middle I slipped the middle stitch on the right side and purled it on the wrong side. I also substituted twisted strings for the fabric ones for a more traditional look. 
Bonnet Pattern : Big Kid Bonnet (Similar pattern HERE, or buy your own ready made HERE)
Bonnet Yarn : Brava Worsted in Paprika by Knit Picks

Normally, I only knit with natural fibers (with the exception of these guys). I made an exception for this bonnet for the color. The rusty red color took the look out of the christmas card photo and into the autumn woods. Its the pop of color the makes the more neutral tones of the rest of the outfit work. This is my favorite bonnet to make at the moment. The front half is folded over on itself making a double layer of cozy knit around the ears.

First and last photos are by my husband (who has a name but would rather I not use it).

Friday, November 7, 2014

STYLO Restyled : Theo Button-down & Field Trip Raglan

When I first started brainstorming for STYLO I thought I wanted to go a little grunge so I had a good excuse to make a flannel shirt. I was originally thinking Doc Martins and ripped up jeans, but the wind shifted and the flannel is all that is left of that idea. But it is probably the best part anyway. J has already worn it a ton, to church, to play, when he's grumpy and cold. A button-down is a pretty big time investment for a kid, but the cozy fabric makes it worth his time to wear, in turn making it worth my time to sew. 
Button Down Pattern: Theo by Zonen 09
Button Down Fabric:  Plaid Cotton Flannel from Joann Fabric

This is my second Theo, this time with the full long sleeves. The pattern calls for a simplified button placket at the cuff, but next time I might try one of the of many tutorials on the interweb to do the more traditional (i.e. time consuming) detail. I used the "standard" version of the pattern (as opposed to slim), and made a size bigger than his measurements to allow plenty of room for the underlayer. I extended and curved the bottom hem to give it a more classic American (nobody does sloppy dressing like Americans) look when its untucked. You'd almost not recognize this super relaxed look as the normally svelte Theo, but the impeccable fit is still very apparent when its buttoned up.
J perfers his flannel untucked. Gotta get this guy a grunge band t-shirt to wear under it.

The underlayer is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan that I love so much, and have sewn the crap out of in the past few weeks. This project was the original inspiration for the thumbhole sleeves I've been churning out lately. The sweater knit is the perfect underlayer fabric and works great with this detail. 
Underlayer Pattern : Field Trip Raglan by Oliver + S, with thumbhole variation
Underlayer Fabric : Sweater Knit from Joann Fabric, White Jersey Knit from Hancock Fabrics

Next up...Gretel's Knits

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

STYLO Restyled : Bimaa Bat & Small Fry Skinnies

As you saw yesterday I made a ton of stuff for STYLO magazine. After a few weeks of sewing like it was my job, I need to convince myself that the distinctive Hansel & Gretel looks can be broken up and remixed into my kids real wardrobes. 

Its a double pattern review day, something I would normally never do (I like each little thing to have its own tidy box). I didn't post this before Halloween because I didn't want to spoil any STYLO surprises (and I hadn't taken any pictures yet) by jumping the gun with these sweet little skinny jeans. With that safely behind us, let's talk about J's Halloween costume before anybody puts a turkey in the oven. 
The bat is four separate pieces. The wings are the kind you see all over the place with elastic that goes over the shoulders and little loops at the tips to put your fingers through. They are self drafted and sewn with black crepon from Joann. I used black vinyl at the tips for reinforcing, and at the back where the wings meet. The mask is a free download from the internet cut out of felt.  I added the ears, and a vinyl layer for a little more interest. The top is a Bimaa sweater, and the bottom is the Small Fry Skinny Jeans, both can be put into the standard wardrobe rotation after Halloween.

For the Bimaa:
A week before Halloween I went in search of a shawl collar sweatshirt for J. I looked at the Bimaa (the day before it was rereleased!), but it only went up to size 6. I let the idea drop, thinking I still had time to draft my own collar and tack it onto a t-shirt pattern. A few days (or was it hours!) before Halloween I was desperate for a shawl collar sweatshirt pattern for J so I went back to the Bimaa thinking I could make size it up myself. In that week Lou Bee Clothing had release a new version with expanded sizing! Yay! Problem solved. Two hours later I have a smart little shawl collar sweater for my bat.
PATTERN: The Bimaa is a standard inset sleeve t-shirt pattern that comes with 3 neck options: hood, cowl, and shawl. All are just adorable, and I will definitely be making other versions in the future. The sizing is now 6months - 12 years, AND its gender neutral. The Bimaa has a ton of bang for your buck.

FABRIC: Fleece was on sale the day I was there, so I made it work. Both costumes are outerwear weight, making them perfect for chilly Halloween wear (except it was 75 degrees the day we trick or treated!) I used some leftover charcoal gray knit as an accent at the collar and cuffs, and some black vinyl to add a little detail at the shoulders.

FIT: I sized up to an 8 because the fleece didn't have as much stretch as a knit, and its pretty thick. I could have gone up another size.

ALTERATIONS: I added thumbhole cuffs (cause I'm on a roll). I also added shoulder patches (a la Trine & Brienne). They go a long way to add some detail to an otherwise plain sweatshirt.  J thinks they make him look like an "army guy", so you'll be seeing more in the future.

Now the Small Fry Skinny Jeans:

PATTERN: This is the Small Fry Skinny Jeans by Titchy Threads. You've seen these guys all over the interweb for good reason. They are a perfect reproduction for hand making convincing looking jeans. I had some reservations about making a pattern from a designer I had never used before that involved so much finishing and my first fly zipper. No reason to worry, the instructions are very clear and thorough. I didn't have to do a single thing twice. 

FABRIC: This is medium weight Italian Stretch Denim in Indigo from Michael Levine. It is perfect for these pants. It is sturdy but lightweight, and has just the right amount of stretch to make seriously slim pants play friendly. 

FIT: I sewed a 6 and added 1" to the length of this pattern. These are some seriously slim pants. They fit my super slim J perfectly. My kids HATE jeans, they are stiff and restricting, and the snaps always pop open, or they sag at the bum. Somehow these jeans don't have any of those issues, and J loves them. 
Both the Small Fry Skinny Jeans Pattern and the stretch denim were provided to me for free. I assure you the opinions are my own. If I hated them I would have said nothing!

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Monday, November 3, 2014


The exciting news alluded to last week, and the secret sewing I've been biting my tong about for weeks is...STYLO 3! You can imagine how thrilled I was way back in August to get an email from Jessica of The Sewing Rabbit asking me to contribute to STYLO magazine. When you love what you do, its so validating to have someone ask you to do more of it. In the summer I have a lot of down time in the car shlepping back and forth between my house in the city, and my parent's farm in the country. While staring down PA-322 I had plenty of time to make extravagant plans in my head. Plans that my hands had to follow through with in September. I sewed my little heart out (and knit quite a bit too) and I'm pretty happy with the results. I made 10 pieces for STYLO inspired by the story of Hansel & Gretel. The focus was on cozy fall layers that we could mix and match, and even a few pieces that either kid can wear. In the next few week I will be restyling a few of these pieces and giving a few of my favorite pieces (oh that HAT!) a full pattern review.

I took two different photo sequences for these outfits. Hopefully, the story I shared with STYLO speaks for itself. I'll share the other photo sequence here. My secret photographer husband took ALL of the photos in this post (for the STYLO spread he took half and I took half). When we were standing in the middle of the woods and I was on the creative emotional roller coaster of this-is-awesome, this-sucks, this-is-awesome, this-sucks, he pried the camera from my hands and really brought the story of the Grimm woods  (shown in STYLO) to life. Here is a brighter story of my little woodland children collecting ferns in a sunnier part of the forrest. 
Pixie Bonnet : SweetKM Big Kid Bonnet
Vest : Self Drafted (Will share a tutorial next week!)
Flannel Shirt : Zonen 09 - Theo Button Down
T-Shirt : Oliver & S - Field Trip Raglan

Check out STYLO Restyled to see how we're wearing the Hansel & Gretel look every day.

A big fat thank you to Jessica (Sewing Rabbit) and Celina (Petit a Petite & Family) for putting all of this together, and asking me to play along. Now, go check it out!

Thanks to Michael Levine Inc. for providing some of the fabrics for my project. Use coupon code STYLO10 to get 10% at the Michael Levine site.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Field Trip Raglan Kitty Cat

My sweet little children are all over the place at Halloween. They change costume choices daily, most  of their choices are virtually unmakeable (a single pink Smartie!?). We barely trick or treat, I hate costumes that are overly specific or that they can't put on themselves to play with later, and I veto any licensed characters. All of this adds a whole lot of complication to costume planning. This year we set two parameters 1. I can make it with a useful clothing pattern 2. it will be an asset to our existing dress up bin. With that in mind today we are exhibiting L's Tippy Cat Costume.

L wants a kitty of her very own vey badly, but mommy just isn't ready. Until I am, she uses Gramma's cat Tippy as a substitute. He gets the first hug hello and the last kiss (for real) goodbye when we're at the farm. Last year she had a Tippy Cat birthday cake, this year she has a Tippy Cat costume.

The costume is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan. It is sewn in gray fleece from Joann, and some furry stuff that is so crumby and synthetic on the reverse side that I had to line it with a cotton knit.  I made it a size bigger than normal to accommodate the thicker fleece and the minimal stretch. I added a few inches at the hem, and a waistband so I had a good spot to attach the tail. Of course, I added thumbhole cuffs pawsThe hat is just a fleece square with the corners sewn shut to make the ears, and I used the same mask template to make a kitty face.

Stop by on Monday for J's bat costume (here is a sneak peak), and some exciting news for SweetKM.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

His & Hers Compagnie M Charles Pants

Have you seen the new Charles Pants by Compagnie M? This was my first foray into pattern testing, and with mixed results. I was in the midst of a (not yet released) deadline driven project when I signed up and I didn't read the instructions quite like I should have. Honestly, I never read the instructions quite like I should (husband has stopped reading at this point as a frustrated affirmation of my negligence! :).  I'm a visual thinker, a faithful believer in the show-me-don't-tell-me philosophy of life. Lesson learned, I will be more careful next time. These are my second and third pairs of Charles pants. With the messy first pair out of my system, I'm pretty happy with these.
My favorite thing about the Charles pants is their gender neutrality. Either kid could wear either pair of these pants without a sideways glance from the most conventional passer-by. They are even wearing the same shoes! I love a full skirted dress as much as the next sewist, but I get a real thrill from making something for child #1 (male) that child #2 (female) can wear a few years later without compromising style. Compangnie M is know for little girl clothing, but this boy friendly design has got me excited to see what Marte comes up with next.

PATTERN: Charles Shorts/Pants/Dungerees by Compagnie M. Can be made as pants, shorts, or overalls. This is a simple skinny leg pant pattern with a functioning double sided button fly, and an elastic back waist.
FABRIC: Both the fabrics and buttons are Fabric Row finds. Both are 100% cotton prints sturdy enough to be a bottom weight. The brown on J has the added bonus of being flannel with a subtle herringbone print. I wish I had bought more, by the time I realized J could use a bigger size the fabric had sold out. L's cream and black fine lined plaid has a streak of mustard in it. When I first saw this fabric it brought the Mara Blouse (pattern also by Compagnie M) I made over the summer to mind.

Sadly my go-to PA Fabric Outlet is going out of business. PA Fabric Outlet is my favorite place to blow a spare 1/2 hour recreational shopping. The main appeal is that I can walk there, the button selection is second to none, the sales people leave you alone, and there is a park around the corner to satisfy by shopping companion(s). I'm gonna miss this store, until then I've been burning money there.
FIT: Both kids are wearing a size 6. I had to let the side seams out of J's because they pulled to much with the shirt tucked in. Next time, I would make him a 7 or even an 8 (though he measured as a 6). L probably could have worn a 5, but after seam ripping J's I didn't want to take any chances with them fitting her for the whole winter.

ALTERATIONS: The only alteration I made was to widen the legs about 1" on each side of each leg piece on L's pants. I like the skinny look (particularly on J) but thought I'd mix things up with the second pair, so they aren't too matchy, matchy.
Here she is in her grown up pants looking for all the world as I imagine she will 10 years from now. Already with a perfect eye roll technique.

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