Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In the Shop - Conversation Heart Valentines

Oh, it's that time of year again. Valentine season. One of my very favorite holidays, for its tiny gifts full of sentiment. Again this year we've got sweet little Valentine pins perfect for all your friends. I've even toned down the sentiment this year, after all the agonizing my first grader did last year over who should receive the "xoxo". All of our messages can be given to anyone as a token of sweet, simple friendship. They come in sets of 5 pins attached to a simple card that reads "Happy Valentine's Day" on the front and "to" and "from" on the back. The card/pin colors are mixed to make each card as much fun (and as gender neutral) as possible. Our set of conversation hearts is perfect for flexible classroom giving, party favors, or place cards at a special dinner. 

Get your own in the SweetKM Etsy Shop.
 We'll be wearing all 5!

Friday, January 23, 2015

5 More : Sewn Details for Boys

The Hansel & Gretel Vest has got me thinking about boy friendly sewn details. Details in the structural sense, not in the logos, words, or pictures sense. Like many a sewist in blogland, we aren't much for brand logos or team affiliations. So, when you take graphics out of the equation, what are we left with? Little girls have ruffles and lace, ruching of all kinds, what are some playful flourishes for boys clothes that even the most minimalist dresser can endure. Quilting is one of my favorites, here are 5 more:
1. Piping
How I love piping. It is a reasonably dignified way to add a little interest to almost everything, with the added bonus of making any seam where it's used look especially crisp. The Cisse Pants by Zonen 09 use piping to its best advantage, but you can add it at the seam of almost anything.
1. Paspel Poezen 2. Lily en Woody 3. Ann Cloots via Flickr 4. Pieke Wieke
2. Cut Corner
This detail comes from the the Theo Button Up Shirt by Zonen 09, but is easily replicated elsewhere. I don't like a lot of matchy, matchy quilting cotton on anything. The corner cut (like piping) allows me to add a personalized pop of color to an otherwise simple garment.
3. Epaulettes or shoulder patches
I don't know if Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama invented this, but she certainly has made them famous. A contrasting fabric at the shoulder is a really sleek way to add some subtle detail to t-shirts. The Rowan Tee by Titchy Threads comes with the shoulder stripes built in.
4. Topstitching.
I am partial to quilting as a way to add structural interest to just about anything. I like that it adds warmth, durability, and visual interest. Topstitching is the warm weather cousin of quilting, and a great way to highlight a specific piece of the garment, particularly bottoms. The Small Fry Skinny Jeans and Kudzu Cargos are two patterns that really lend themselves to topstitched embellishment.
5 Triangle Color Blocked Ankles
Color blocking might be the simplest way to change up a wide expanse of boring.  I recently came across the Aviator Pants by Winter Wear. This pattern uses diagonal color blocking at the ankle. It's simple, unique, and most importantly versatile. I could see doing the same thing at the wrist for any knit top. You might be seeing more of this from me in future.

All of these examples and more are on the Sewing for Boys board on Pinterest. Do you sew for a boy? What tricks do you use to liven up his handmade wardrobe? It was TOUGH to narrow this list down to 5. What do you think I should have included?


What's up with 5 More? 
I suspect that if I'm up into the wee hours of the night searching for a certain style of sewing pattern, others are probably shopping for it, too. With the 5 More series I try to sift through the mountains of patterns, and possibilities in search of 5 safe bets, for good results. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free Sewing Pattern : Hansel & Gretel Quilted Vest

The FREE child's size 6/7 Hansel & Gretel Quilted Vest sewing pattern is now available. Hansel's Stylo vest was the original inspiration, but I've simplified and refined a few things along the way to accommodate the tutorial format (rather than a full on printed pattern format). My goal with this design is to create a basic vest pattern that is easily altered to create infinite variations. 

The Hansel & Gretel Quilted Vest is a fully lined, quilted vest, with patch pockets and a snap front closure. The pattern consists of a single size, 9 page PDF download (found here). The instructions (found here) are sew along style and available here. The finished chest is 31 1/2", the finished shoulder to hem is 16 1/2".

Creating a pattern this involved is a new challenge for me and I would love your feedback. I'm hoping to crowd source the pattern development process, and give myself a little push along learning curve. Please send all mistakes, suggestions and constructive criticism to sweetkm1[at]yahoo[dot]com. 
Get the FREE pattern:

follow sweetkm:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cowl Neck Bimaa

A simple Bimaa Sweater (cowl neck option) by Lou Bee Clothing. Seems like the perfect top for negative wind chill at the bus stop. Amy makes the Bimaa cowl look like the coziest top in all the land (herehere, and here). Since winter is really picking up in our corner of the world, I thought I'd give cozy a try. This is not my first Bimaa Sweater. We've given it the once over before, so I'll just give you the highlights. 

The main fabric is cranberry sweater knit from Joann. The light pink is jersey knit (long gone) from Girl Charlee (Gah! I can't even copy the link to that place without filling my shopping cart with knit lovelies). I bought the sweater knit to make thumbhole sleeves for raglan t-shirts and found myself a skosh short when I got to cutting out a whole sweater. This lead to a serious mental puzzle of how to piece the neck with cranberry scraps, which lead to no reasonable answer, which lead to a ransacking of the ol' knit stash for pieces of anything that might work cause I'll be gosh darned if I'm leaving the house on a chilly day for a ten inch square of knit fabric. 
I scrapped together a few more pieces of the Mini Hudson accent fabric, with the happy accident of my patch lining up with the shoulder seam. Totally unintentional. A bit more matchy, matchy than I'd like. A happy accident just the same, and the look is growing on me. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

His & Hers Mini Hudson Pants

You may have caught a glimpse of these little numbers in the ol' instagram feed a few weeks ago. His and Hers Mini Hudson Pants by True Bias. Mid-sew I decided pants this cute and comfy should be Christmas gifts, thus the radio silence until now. I doubt my kids would spend their precious computer time catching up on my blog, just never know.

Because I've already given the Mini Hudson Pants the full pattern review treatment (found here), and because my mind is going a thousand mile an hour on other projects (new valentine pins, so many KALs so little time), I'll keep this brief. Mini Hudson Pants Pattern by True Bias. LOVE. Pattern that works for both kids. Double LOVE. So into them that I've made three pairs. Triple LOVE.

SIZE/FIT: For him an 8, for her a 6. I made L (her) a 5 last time and went up a size for extended wear. Honestly, these pants are so speedy to make, I should have stuck with the 5 for a sleeker fit.

FABRIC: The heather gray is a cotton jersey sweater knit (if there is such a thing) from Joann, that I can't quite identify online. I bought it for its sturdy softness, that really lends itself to bottoms. The accents are from various other projects (His here, Hers here).

Yes, that is an unblogged Bimaa on L. It's super cute, and a little matchy, matchy. Meet me back here tomorrow for the details. Until then, let's revel in the visual symmetry of this blog post.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Chambray Epiphany

I have an ambivilant relationship with pattern testing. On one hand I like the little push outside of my normal aesthetic, the motivation to try something new, or make something I wouldn't normally gravitate toward work with my tastes. On the other hand, there is no sewing community inspiration for a pattern no one has made yet. There is no advice, there is nothing to learn from the success or failures in my instagram feed.

The Lou Box Top is the first pattern from  Sew DIY's. Incase I wasn't clear in the first paragraph, I was a pattern tester. Normally, I would dive right into a project this straight forward, but I have never sewn her designs before (obviously) so I made a muslin. For the muslin I used a sad stiff, light sucking navy knit because it was the only thing I had around that I could stand to cut into. Yikes what a mess. I tried to jazz things up with a scrap of woven floral as an exposed neck, and a tie instead of a button, but there was no redeeming that crappy fabric. That top is destined for Good Will (no offense to Good Will).

I was feeling particularly bad after I saw Debbie's incredible tissue print version in all its drapey glory. I wanted something just as effortlessly simple and cool. I started frantically ordering fabrics online that had no chance of getting to me in time. In the midst of entering my digits into yet another online order form I had an epiphany - when in doubt, use chambray. I have a pretty significant stash of chambray, more that I like to collect than sew with. I held my breath and cut into a precious piece of linen blend, and instantly the project was redeemed (do you hear angels singing? I think its a Christmas miricle).
Is it weird that I had these earrings in mind before I even started sewing? They are from a small company in my neighborhood, and hard to resist when I walk by their window a couple times a week. I'm not that into jewelry, but I am pretty into these earrings. I emailed the link to M enough times that he finally took the hint and bought them for my birthday, which very happily coincided with a boutique sale. It is exactly the sort of thing I want to wear, and if I am going to wear something this big the rest of the outfit has to be subtle.
PATTERN: The Sew DIY Lou Box Top is a dolman sleeve t-shirt pattern written for knit or woven fabrics. There are with two options for the neckline: scoop or crew, and three options for the hemline: straight, dip, or curved (shown). The pattern is drawn as 4 pieces so you can mix and match the tops and bottoms. The line of stitching at about my waist is the break between the pieces. The instructions call for cutting your top and bottom as one piece, but with such a simple pattern and simple fabric I wanted to add a few subtle details. I added 1/2 of seam allowance between the pieces so I could sew them back together then do some jean-like embellishment with golden yellow thread. The instructions are expertly written and illustrated.

FABRIC: This is a long stashed piece of chambray that I think I bought at a local fabric store. It seems to have a bit of linen in it based on its tendency to wrinkle. I learned from my crumby thick knit muslin, that the fabric is key to such a simple top. Choose something with a nice drape, and you will look like a million bucks.

SIZE: I measured a small, I made a small, the small fits like a glove. I was a little worried it would fit at the bust, but not the hip, but that was not a problem.

ALTERATIONS: My only alteration was to separate the top and bottom pieces at front and back. I think the pattern calls for a center seam up the entire back for the woven version, but I only seamed the top piece, so I could jazz up the top stitching. Next time I would add 1" to the length. The split bodice design allows for super simple lengthen/shortening.
Left: Top stitching around the side vent and where the top and bottom pieces meet. Top Right: Back button closure (for the woven version only). Bottom Right: Center back where the top and bottom pieces meet.
In conclusion, the Sew DIY Lou Box Top is a great, infinitely flexible shirt pattern. I am going to churn out a few more of these in linen when warmer weather comes. The simple variations included with the pattern mean you can make quite a few and they will all be different.

Sorry for the bad pun, and please excuse the Holiday decor. I wrote this post before Christmas, but didn't have a chance to squeeze it into December. I'm posting today while those guys on the piano and I can still pretend we did it on purpose!


Linking up with An's beautiful new website.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Recap: the death of an internet wall flower

I have been quietly writing SweetKM since 2011. All the while with the mistaken impression that if you put good (or at least reasonably decent) work out there, you will get good in return. This blog has always been a place to catalogue personal accomplishments, and plan future projects, rather than interact.  I am a very contented introvert, an internet wallflower, perfectly happy to sit on the sideline and observe. This year was different. This year I slowly and accidentally took a few small steps to assert myself in the wider online sewing community. [The above photo has almost nothing to do with this paragraph, but my favorite 2014 make is a nice way to start off the recap.]
1. Secret Valentine Exchange
In February I joined Sanae Ishida's Valentine Gift Exchange. Such an innocent thing, but it really was my first concerted interaction with other makers. From that experience  I "met" Ute and her beautifully simple urban aesthetic, and her enthusiastic support of her maker friends. I also became a committed reader of Sanae whose comment section is often a forum for creative topics on the internet.
2. Sewing More For My Kids
In the Fall of 2013 my little family moved to a house that allowed me to have a dedicated sewing space for the first time since I was a single girl with a swiss army knife apartment where I could leave sewing projects in the living/dining/bedroom as long as I wanted and eat over the kitchen sink. I know lots of people who accomplish an amazing amount of work from their family dining table, but that has never been me. Since having children I have focused on knitting because it takes up less space. The truth is, I would rather sew. A little space just for me and a new (to me) serger increased my kid sewing to 36 garments (a few not yet blogged) this year.
3. Sewing for Myself
Next I sewed something for myself, that forced me to get over my revoltion of selfies. The whole thing seems so distasteful and narcissistic, but a dress taped to the wall just isn't the same as one on a body with a little context, and maybe a nice pair of earrings. The Salme Cropped Blazer (blogged here) was a big step for me to put my face (or half of it) on this little blog for all the world to see, and to physically own my work. This year I have made 12 garments for myself (1 not yet blogged), up from 1 sad little knit skirt last year.
4. Stretching my Photography Skills
My photography skills have grown with my children. Taking a photo of an infant with one hand while holding that infant upright with the other, is a totally different challenge than photographing a running second grader without showing too much of his face. My first photo shoot somewhere other than my sewing room was for an Oliver + S Art Museum Vest photographed at "the" art museum. The comments generated from the O+S flickr group was my first taste of the positive support possible when you actively share what you're making with the sewing community.
5. 5 More Fridays
I always have a list of various goodies rattling around in my head. Pinterest is a pretty good way to organize a few categories of thought, but a few of those idea needed more room to flesh them out with text. 5 More Fridays are a short list of stand out examples of whatever I was working on at the time. I didn't realize it would be a sort of interaction, I was just making a list of stuff I wanted to remember for later. Now I'm hooked, expect to see more lists I've had rattling around in my head in the new year.
6. Kid's Clothes Week Contributor

Kid's Clothes Week has always been a great way to get to know other makers. I discovered Briennes lovely blog from her season as a KCW contributor. Brienne encouraged me to be a KCW Contributor. It was the first indication that someone other than my mother was paying attention, and such a boost to my repressed sewing ego. So, I did. KCW solidified my addiction to the positive feedback loop of KCW and makers. I would imagine that any female who made it through high school knows that many real life interactions are not nearly so supportive. Not only did KCW open my work up to a larger audience, it gave me a push to seek out other people making similar things and support them with my own positive feedback. The tone that Meg sets with KCW can be credited with creating this positive environment. 
7. Instagram
KCW also lead me to sign up for instagram. I was pretty resistant to anything that would have me staring lovingly into my cell phone (any more than I already did), but I was thrilled to find it a great informal place to exchange little ideas that often get overlooked in a blog post, and get quick advice.
8. Oliver + S Blog Contributor
I have an internal list of  the nicest people on the internet (many already mentioned) and Kristin of Skirt as Top is right there at the top. It was a bit of a thrill when Kristin found my tutorial for lengthening the Sunny Day Shorts and asked me to share it with the Oliver + S blog. I have no idea where this honor falls in the vast scope of big deal honors (somewhere between a Grammy and PTA parent of the year?). But it was a BIG deal for me. Oliver + S later featured the Thumbhole Sleeve tutorial, too.
9. Pattern Tester
Somewhere along this sewing journey I decided pattern testing might be a nice thing to try. Yes, yes, and double yes. No only did it connect me to even more makers, it expanded my sewing skills, and stretched my aesthetic to things I might not have tried otherwise. I tested the Charles Pants for Compagnie M (blogged here), and the yet to be released Lou Box Top for Sew DIY (teaser photo above, on the blog in early January). Both were great patterns and great experiences. 
10. Stylo Magazine
Just when it seemed that KCW was going to be the crowning glory of my year, I was asked to contribute to Stylo. The quality of work in the first two editions was so dazzling, the thought that someone would let me scribble in the margins is still thrilling. I set a few completely unrealistic goals, and surprised myself by meeting most of them.

This little journey has reminded me how much I like to make stuff. The online sewing communitys give and take of ideas and encouragement has given my personal creativity a new spark. I began this year with the mistaken belief that the internet is anonymous, but have discovered its not just about putting good work out there, its also about contributing to the positive feedback loop fueled by the enthusiasn and creativity of many, many other online makers. By letting more of myself show in this space, I have had the pleasure of getting to know more of you.

SO, whats ahead for 2015. Starting tomorrow I plan to invest more in myself. In 2015 I have earnest plans to invest more (time and money) in myself. Ive got a few sewing classes planned, some non-knit pieces for the ol shop, and this little blog could use a sprucing up.

Lets keep this going in the new year. Make yourself known. Speak up! Leave a comment pointing me in the direction of your 2015 plans, or find me on your social media thingamajig of choice.