Monday, August 25, 2014

I heart my Alder Shirtdress

I heart my Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress so much I even managed to take a picture of myself smiling in it! A real triumph of girl vs. the 10 second shutter delay. This dress is such a dream to wear. It will look great with tights and a cardi for fall. It might even look good with leggings and boots for winter, but I'm not sure what the fashion police would say about wearing a linen dress with suede boots in the dead of winter.  It would also look great with Andrea's collar modification for the Archer Button Up. But, I'm getting ahead of myself...

When I started sewing this dress a few weeks ago I could already feel our fall schedule getting away from me. I'm so relieved to have squeezed one more mommy make into the summer before my sewing time falls so low on the list of priorities that my only free hour is between 2 and 3 AM. Normally, after printing a pattern PDF I work straight through until the blog post is finished (I do that with books too, neither are very good my sleep habits). This project went in very frustrating fits and starts (as you'd know if you follow me on instagram, ahem), with lots of thinking about making it when there wasn't a sewing machine for miles.
PATTERN: The Alder Shirtdress pattern view B. It is typical Grainline Studio quality, and minimal instruction. If you're used to the hand holding, tutorial intensive kid's pattern makers, you will find the directions a bit brief. I sewed most of this dress last weekend before the Alder Sew Along was in full swing, so I used the Archer Sew Along to verify the process for making the button band and the collar. I've made a few button down shirts before, but there is always more than one way to skin a cat. The sew along instructions are VERY thorough, and easy to follow. There is even a video for Jen's preferred technique for attaching the collar stand. Worked like a charm.

FABRIC: When I first spread this fabric out on the old kitchen/cutting table, I promised myself to keep an open mind and consider it a muslin. Fretting about sizing and seam ripping creates insurmountable obstacles in my head. I like this fabric, but it's from Joann so its certainly nothing precious, and far from irreplaceable. It doesn't have a particularly smooth finish, but fit the bill for my first try at this dress.  This is the learning curve fabric. I'm not going to over think it, I'm just going to sew something. I played fast and loose with the rules of test bodices and this time I won. I wish I had played around with the direction of the stripes a bit more. I was focused on completing the project on a tight schedule, next time I can be a bit more creative without compromising time. 
FIT: As with the Grainline Tiny Pocket Tee, I cut a 6 at the bust and graded to an 8 at the waist based on my measurements. It's a pretty boxy fit, and I probably could get away with a straight 6. If I cut a 6 I might raise the waistline 1/2" to prevent the seam from actually sitting on my shelf like hips. 
I was a little worried about the collar and the 90 degree seam at the waist before I started sewing. Both worked out far better than I expected, infact I don't think I ripped a single seam for this entire dress. I did rip a few button holes, my machine hates buttonholes. Grrr.

ALTERATIONS: I moved the bust dart up 1", an adjustment I always make with the Tiny Pocket Tank. I usually just eyeball it, but Jen has some dart moving wisdom on her blog. I'm going to chalk it up to incredibly perky boobs, there's no way it's my A cup! I'm toying with the idea of raising the waistline, and possibly lowering the highest part of the hem, but I suspect that Madame Grainline has carefully considered the proportions of her dress, and I hate to monkey with perfection.
Okay, I probably should have ironed, but then how would you know it's linen?!?
I have had the Archer Button Up Shirt pattern pieces taped to the wall in the sewing room since last winter. It was just tooooooo much to think about with all those parts, and pieces, and sizes, and fabrics - for the love off all things crafty! Since then I've made 3 tiny pocket tanks, and this Alder. All were great conditioning to overcome the Archer hurdles in my mind. My hesitation was silly Grainline is a sure thing every time. I guess that's the benefit of the indie desigher/sewist relationship. You can get to know the style of a designer and anticipate how a pattern will work for you before you even print the pdf. I will definitely make this dress again. I have been accumulating 2 yard chunks of various chambrays, just have to decide which will go to the Alder and which will go to the Archer.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Compagnie M Mara Blouse

I made this Compagnie M Mara blouse for the the Summer of Mara blog tour. Today Im bringing it home to give the Mara my standard pattern review treatment. I have had my eye on the Compagnie M Mara blouse for quite a while. Martes call for sewists to make the Mara for her summer blog blitz was the perfect incentive to move Mara to the top of my must-sew list.

PATTERN: There are two printing options one with seam allowances, and one for people who hate themselves. Clearly I chose the one with, I just can't wrap my head around the real advantage of leaving them off. Like all Compagnie M designs (have you seen the Lotta Dress? Swoon!) the Mara blouse is full of great details. There are 3 sleeve options, flutter, butterfly (shown) and sleeveless. The placket, piping, and body fabric combinations are an endless source of customization. I love the traditional styleing of this blouse, but with separate pieces that allow me to switch things up.

FABRIC: Cotton Voile from India Beautiful Art. I heart this fabric, super lightweight, a tiny bit sheer, and with a sophisticated (I think) cream ground with black stamped pattern. Perfect for this blouse. I used Kaufman Cambridge Cotton in black for the homemade piping. The buttons are from PA Fabric Outlet in Fabric row, and are reminiscent of oil rubbed bronze (though Im sure thats not what you call it for buttons) finish, with an embossed pattern that goes really well with the fabric print.

FIT: The Mara fits like a glove, but there is little room to grow. L measured right on as a 4, and she is 4 so that is no surprise. I might make another identical one so she will get more wear out of it. Next time Ill make a 5 (or maybe even a 6, it could be tunic-y right?). I would also shorten the button loops ¼, and add an inch to the length.
I would also consider coming up with a bigger lining next time. The piping/placket seam is no joke, and I dont love the serging showing where the opening starts. I bar tacked the neck opening closed and to the seam there so it wouldnt hang out.

I guess I should point out that I got this pattern for free, but of course, the opinions are my own. I really want to thank Marte for including me in her blog tour, I love an extra push to challenge myself, and I will be making this  pattern again.
L is also wearing her Clover Shorts by Willow & Co. (blogged here).

Linking up with Simple Simon & Co.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

SweetKM on Oliver + S

Everybody knows I love the Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts Pattern to the point that I worry people are tried of hearing about it. The lovely Kristin (who might just be the nicest person on the internet) of Skirt as Top fame asked me to share it with the Oliver + S blog. It is over there today. I'm feeling a little star struck, like I've got my name up in lights or something. Aww shucks, and all that. Please stop by and check it out.
Above are the the Sunny Day Shorts I've made so far. On the right -  the bleached out SDS, in the middle - piped SDS, on the left - sky blue SDS

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oliver & S Field Trip Raglan

This guy needed some new t-shirts that didn't broadcast our participation in the local rec. center's athletic season du jour. He has out grown my beloved Tee Time For Two raglan pattern that fit his skinny little torso so perfectly, so I had to buy a bigger pattern. I've sewn enough of the  FREE! Sunny Day Shorts that its about time I bought something from Oliver + S. O + S is always a sure thing, and perfect for a project I wanted to finish in a hurry with no hang ups. I made these two tees in a couple of hours from knit that I had on hand.

PATTERN: This is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan, available as a single or with the Field Trip Pants.  The pattern has easy to follow instructions, a few extra helpful tidbits, and the characteristic Oliver + S dependability. 
FABRIC: The light gray is Kaufman Laguna Stretch Jersey Knit. The yellow is cotton/lycra but they seem to be sold out, here is a similar fabric. I got the lycra blend (10% lycra) for increased stretch recovery, both of my kids stretch their shirts out over their knees (maddening!). The Laguna (5% lycra) actually has a decent recovery, and its it SO soft.  I don't remember where I got the dark gray, but I bought it to make a Lady Skater and never used it. This knit is so cozy, that Lady Skater just got bumped up a few notches on my must sew list for fall. 

FIT: I made a size 8 (J is 7) so they would fit for a while. The Field Trip fit is a bit conservative for my tastes. I preferred the super slim fit of the Figgy's Tee Time For Two (now out of print). The Field Trip Raglan has a ton more ease through the body, which is just fine, but not as much of a svelt style statement. 

ALTERATIONS: I shortened the sleeves, and I added a Henley button placket to one of the t-shirts. Its an attempt to jazz up a snooze of a t-shirt and build some skillzzzz. I used this great tutorial by Staying Steyn. I totally fudged the collar where it meets the edge of the placket, not my best work, but close enough. Note to self for next time, face the button placket. Seems obvious, but I didn't think of it until my sewing machine was eating fabric for the button holes. (argh! shakes fist at sewing machine.)
Don't let J's grouchy looks fool you, the yellow tee and yellow piped shorts combo is his new favorite outfit. I don't blame him, this knit is snuggly soft. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How-To Lengthen a Basic Shorts Pattern

My son likes his shorts at a very conservative just above the knee length, that often requires adding an inch or two to a pattern. After making him a few pairs of the Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts, and making the same modifications to each pair, I thought I'd share my notes for lengthening this pattern. This way I can refer back to them the next time (and there will be a next time) I make these shorts, and maybe you will find them helpful. While I'm using the Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts pattern as an example, the same steps can be taken with most any basic shorts pattern. 
 1. Print and assemble your paper pattern as indicated in the pattern instructions.
 2. Cut across the grid about 1 1/2"above the hem edge of the pattern piece. I cut between the notches and the fold for the hem. Adding to the middle of the pattern piece, rather than the bottom edge, allows you to add length without changing the size of the leg opening.
 3. Attach a piece of plain paper (here shown in blue) to the back of the upper pattern piece that is at least as wide as the pattern piece, and a bit deeper than the amount of length you would like to add. At the left edge measure down the amount you want to lengthen the shorts (in this case 1"). Do the same thing at the right edge and draw a line between them that will be parallel to the pattern grid.
 4. Line your ruler up with two of the vertical grid lines and continue them down onto the plain paper and across the horizontal line you have drawn.
 5. Use those vertical lines to attach the lower pattern piece to our extension piece along the horizontal line we have drawn.
 6. At the left edge of the pattern piece, use a straight edge to connect the point at the crouch, and the point of the hem fold. At the right edge of the pattern piece, continue the straight line between the upper and lower pieces in a similar way.
 7. Repeat this process with the front pattern piece.
8. Cut out the pattern in the size you want to make. Sew the shorts as indicated in the pattern instructions.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sky Blue Sunny Day Shorts

Right around the time I photographed J's second pair of Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts for Kid's Clothes Week, it occurred to me that I should be making them a size bigger. The first pair fit like a glove... for about 2 weeks. This kid can often wear the same school shoes two years in a row. I don't know what he is eating, cause this is his first noticeable growth spurt. So, I've upped it to a size 8 in the hope that he will get some wear out of them next year.

I made these shorts with a medium weight sky blue chambray. It was at the very bottom of a box of fabric, and has been in my stash for ages. When I found it, I was about to give up digging and head to the fabric store. I'm trying to make some room in the fabric closet, so I was happy to take something away rather than add more scraps.

Shorts this simple are all about the details. I used a lot of top stitching to polish up the finish. I also used my  favorite patch pocket detail. Incidentally, this is the lovely geometric print I got at the Handcraft Workshop for my Love Your Lunch Box, then lost before I even started the project. It was under the bed. So there you go. A long winding car ride to Mount Airy for one tiny pocket corner. So worth it!

This is also my last entry in Shorts on the Line. I'm sorry to see it go, but I'm taking the hint to stop sewing shorts and start thinking about fall layers...
Come back tomorrow for my tutorial-ish post about how-to lengthen a basic shorts pattern. Same time, same place.


Friday, August 8, 2014

5 More : Girl's Sundress Patterns

Maybe you've noticed that I am consumed by the sundress lately (pinterest board as proof!). I've been combing the internet late at night comparing the way I'm making mine, with that is generally available. Turns out, sundresses are far from basic and are as varied as the cherubs who wear them.  You've seen my sundress, here are 5 More Girl's Sundress Patterns. 

image by Compagnie M
1. Lucy Dress, Top and Skirt Pattern by Compagnie M 
There is nothing I love like a chance to use something from my significant stash of vintage buttons. The Lucy by Compagnie M is just that sort of opportunity. This pattern makes 3 different pieces making it a great value. And super cute (check out Nina's)!

image by Baste + Gather
The Cupcake Dress is designed by Lauren from Baste + Gather is FREE! The straps of this dress tie behind the neck and the pattern comes in sizes 12m to 8. The construction is simple enough that you could make a whole summer wardrobe full of sundresses in no time. 

image by Willow & Co.
The Persimmon is designed by Hayley of Mouse House Creations for Willow & Co. The casual styling makes the a perfect laid back summer staple. This pattern comes with options for different lengths, color blocking (check out Julie's), ruffles (check out Mie's), and pockets. 
image by Rabbit Rabbit
I had never heard of Rabbit Rabbit until I saw this dress pop up in a few places during Kid's Clothes Week. The contrast between the delicate styling of the bodice and the huge volume of the skirt make for a really dramatic silhouette, even in less formal fabrics (check out Tasha's). It really looks like something special, but I imagine its an easy wear with the simple elastic back. 

image by Straight Grain
This dress is hot off the presses, the Saudade is designed by Straight Grain for Sew Mama Sew. It features lovely twisted pleating on the bodice, and versatile tie shoulder straps. The details are a nice touch to an otherwise straightforward dress. This pattern, and the mastery of a new pleating technique, are FREE!

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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 in search of 5 safe bets, for good results.