Thursday, August 27, 2015

Designer Spotlight--Tami of Love Notions

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Today we have another great installment of our Designer Spotlight...this time we have Tami, of Love Notions. She has been a favorite here at Sew Cool because she not only designs trendy looks for tweens, but they truly are easy to sew and oh so comfortable. My daughters can attest to that. So I present to you Tami and her pattern line, Love Notions.

How would you describe Love Notions patterns/brand?

I want the Love Notions brand to bring to mind trendy, easy to sew, easy to wear patterns focusing on knits. I design for girls, boys and ladies but those ‘inbetween girls’ are my sweet spot.
Girls La Bella Tunic with hood 
Girls La Bella Tunic with hood

What makes Love Notions patterns unique/stand out?

My vision for LN was to be a user friendly pattern, focusing on sewing with knits. I especially like to focus on the older girls since I have one and I see a void in the marketplace for clothing that she’d be happy to wear.
Love Notions Wrigley Raglan Tee and Dress PDF Pattern 
Love Notions Wrigley Raglan Tee and Dress

How long have you been designing patterns?

I have been designing patterns for just over a year. I got started with the digital drafting and grading part by taking the Pattern Workshop course by Lauren Dahl. I highly recommend it, it was exactly what I needed to take the leap into pattern design after doing everything by hand for years.

What made you start?

I got my start back in 2004 when I launched my custom clothing business Dunk-n-Fluff. At that time my daughter was just a few months old and I need to find more cloth diapering friendly clothing. Since then my business evolved as she grew and then finally I made the leap into offering my original designs as patterns for everyone. Mallory is now eleven. She’s been my inspiration from the start and continues to be my guiding light. Kind of crazy how I’ve gone from making her cloth diapers, baby clothes to toddler dresses and now to trendy clothes that she admires.
Posh Popover Maxi Dress
Posh Popover Maxi Dress

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I get my inspiration from several places. I get a lot of children’s clothing magazines (Tea, Hanna Andersen, Osh Kosh, etc.). I also hunt through Pinterest for fun ideas. Once I zero in on a design I like the look of I’ll call Mallory in and ask her if she would wear it. As a general rule, I won’t design anything I wouldn’t let my daughter wear as far as modesty goes.

What's the most challenging part of designing patterns?

Time management! I love the actual process of designing a pattern, sewing samples, even testing. It’s fitting it all in while still being a mom, wife and primary housekeeper that’s challenging. I’m not going to lie, nine times out of ten I have a couch full of laundry waiting to be folded and put away!
Maxx-ine Slim Fit Pants
Maxx-ine Slim Fit Pants

Why do you focus on tween sizes?

It’s what I know! And it helps that I have a live-in model that is usually very compliant. She knows when I call for her while I’m in my sewing room I need her help with fitting or her advice. I also think there’s a gap in the tween market so I’m doing my best to help fill it.

What's coming down the road from Love Notions?

I like to fly by the seat of my pants. I rarely have a plan for what I’m doing for the next week, much less months. My goal is to release a new pattern every month. I also want to focus more on the blog aspect and do a few tutorial, hacks and mash-ups. Something fun, for sure!
Bluezette Dress for Girls
Bluezette Dress for Girls

Of the thirty plus patterns I've publishes so far, here are me and Mallory's favorite 'tween patterns:

Go-to 'tween patterns from Love Notions
Go-to 'tween patterns from Love Notions
Thank you so much Tami! It's always fun to get to know a little more about the ins and outs of what goes on behind the scenes, so to say.
On top of introducing you to a great pattern line, we also have a give-a-way. Tami has generously offered one of each of the 5 patterns shown above to one of our readers...that's 5 amazing patterns!!!!  (You have one week to enter)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fall Fashion Looks/Trends

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It's always fun to look at the fashion trends out there not only in the retail world, but in the higher end fashion as well. It's fun for tweens, at least my fashion savvy tween, to see if she's on trend or not...not that she really thinks that much personally, but she has fun with it.

What is most fun though, is to see that trends from when I was a tween/teen are coming back again.

First up we have this fun ensemble from Tween In Style.
Leggings are still in.
So are graphic tees/tees with a message.
Drape-y cardigans seem to be something new.
Scarves are luckily still in as well.
"FALL in love!" by tweeninstyle on Polyvore
One big surprise of a Fall trend was PLAID...sure took me back a couple of decades. I had plaid coats, plaid button up shirts and plaid wool skirts as a teen.
I've seen it in stores like Target and Old Navy as well as in several Fall lines from higher end stores.
Here's a plaid suit (and tie) from the Bonpoint Teen line.
Here's another gathering of different plaid outfits.  I like the combination of plaid and screams Autumn.
Plaid is having a moment on the runways, particularly red plaid. Designers are partial to a tartan print and it's not hard to see why: The red adds an interesting dose of color to an otherwise very classic fabric. And since we all are guilty of overdoing black in the winter and black was already very dominant on the runway, it is also nice to see some red to brighten up the mood.
Here's the same coat from Bonpoint but in the children's line...blazers and jeans are one fashion trend that I'm glad to see come back. It was one of my favorite trends.
Another trend that I've seen in both children's and women's lines are capes.  What a fun way to keep warm and you could dress it up or down; keep it light or heavy depending on the weather.
So next week we'll have a round up of patterns to get some of these looks. The question is...what are some of the trends from your youth that you would love to see come back around to be seen on your kids?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Moto Jacket Pattern Tour

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Are you looking for something on trend and a little fun to sew for Fall?  Well look no further, because the Moto Jacket by Jennuine Designs is that fun addition to any wardrobe!
This was a fun pattern that I got to test and then I got asked to be part of the pattern tour as well.  I've made this pattern 3 times now (other versions HERE and HERE) and each time I'm impressed with how well this pattern is written and how easy they are to follow (My initial review, which I still stand by is HERE).

As for this version, I titled it Moto meets Black and White Elegance.
Sophia decided on the color scheme...not what I had in mind when I signed up for the blog tour, but that what's you get when you sew for tweens. My vision is not her vision and this is her.
I have to say though, I really like how this one turned out and how classy it looks.  The chunky gold zipper was the perfect touch.
Once again, I used home decor fabric for the body, knit ribbing for the sleeves/collar/welts and this time I used actual lining fabric for the lining (all from JoAnn's...I really need to find more fabric shops here in St. Louis).  She wanted to keep it simple. I tried to talk her into adding more gold or a pop of color, but she was adamant. And you know when you sew for tweens, you have to go with what they want or they won't wear it.
As for this version, it looks great with leggings, jeans and even a nice twirly black skirt.  It's a pretty versatile jacket. Great for layering or wearing as a heavy layer on cooler days.
The jacket itself is fully lined, with great instructions on how to finish the sleeves with a binding. This is where I added a tiny pop of color...teal with gold dots. She was okay with that.
There are a ton of different ways you could personalize this jacket...hidden pocket in the lining, fun pop of color for the lining, the pocket pouches a fun print...there's just so much you could do (especially if you didn't have an opinionated tween:)
If I could ever get my hands on some leather, I would love to use it for this pattern...especially now that I really know how to put it together.
I think she prefers to leave it unzipped a little, but with that gold zipper, I think it looks pretty trendy zipped all the way up.
And here she is trying for her best Audrey Hepburn look... 
So while I love how this one turned out, and so does she, I think this is still my favorite one
(made for my other daughter and you can see more pictures of it on my personal blog)
So go check out the Moto Jacket pattern and add it to your Fall "To Sew" list.
Jenn is also having a great give-a-way, a sale in her shop (just use the code "Moto Tour") and then there are all of the other stops on the pattern tour!
So much FUN!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Back to School sewing plan

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It is that time of year again!  Shopping for pencils, pens, paper, and various school supplies; endless hours at the mall trying to not spend all your money on school clothes.  And the nervous excitement about the first day in a new grade.

My daughter is very much looking forward to the first day of 6th grade.  We are in a new town so she is nervous about making friends, but she is ready to not be hanging out with her brother all day.

This year, I am making most of her back to school wardrobe.  In June, we went summer clothes shopping for her and because she has gotten so tall, she is just straddling the children's and junior department and I have noticed the cost of her clothes have significantly gone up.

Making an entire back to school wardrobe is a little crazy if you ask me.  I have done it once before and it was fairly chaotic.  So this time I am trying to be more organized and deliberate about it.

I am choosing some basic patterns and making several duplicates in different patterns in order to get the foundation of the wardrobe established.  And then, during the fall I will had more specialty items to give her basics more character and give her more variety.

My methods are also more assembly line style.  I am following the advice of Melissa from Melly Sews and cutting multiple layers of the same pattern at one time.  And I am stacking all my cut garments in piles according to colors.
Melly Sews

Right now I am in the midst of cutting knit shirts out.  I have a stack of pinks, darks, and greys.  I will then sew them up in that order so that I can minimize changing my serger thread.  What this means is that I spend days cutting and not sewing a single stitch and I have to be careful to keep all the pieces together.  But I think in the end it will be more efficient if not as much fun.  I take great joy in finishing, so this is a serious practice in delayed gratification.

So what basics did I choose?

I have a vintage tee shirt pattern that my grandmother tested for Stretch & Sew in the late 60s that I treasure.  I have a raglan version too that I have been using extensively for my son. (not yet a tween)

The most elaborate pattern I chose is the Mimi top/dress by a French Canadian designer Files a Maman.  I am doing the tunic length with some silly fabric.  Sally shared this dress as part of its debut blog tour HERE.
The Day Tripper top by Swhin &Shwin designs.  This top is designed for women but and XS is just a little big on Abi and looks good as an over-sized top (previously reviewed HERE).

Next up is the Jalie dolman.  I am so excited for this top.   I have always wanted to sew a Jalie pattern and see what all the fuss was about.  And this pattern comes in child and woman's sizes so once I have made Abi a couple, I will make one for me too.

Just about every tween girl loves leggings so I am adding a couple of those.  I am using Dressage legging without the panel to make a neutral and a wild print pair (reviewed HERE).

Finally,  I am sewing another Jalie pattern, the Drop Pocket Cardigan.  Again, I think this will be on my sewing list for myself.  But first I need to get all the back to school sewing done!

Are you sewing a wardrobe too? or are you creating special items to fill gaps in store bought fashion?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pattern Review: Great Outdoors Vest

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Name of the pattern:  The Great Outdoors Vest by Peek-a-Boo Patterns

Pattern Source:  The pattern can be bought as a pdf file on Peek-a-Boo's web site for $7.95.  (affiliate link)

Sizes available:  It comes in sizes 3 months to 12 years.

Special materials required:  This vest has the option to be fully reversible so if you want that feature, pick two fabrics suitable for being outerwear.  It looks great with a faux fur fabric or with something more light weight; lots of options here!  There is also a requirement for a separating zipper and if you are going with the reversible option, the zipper must be reversible too.  There is an option for snaps if you prefer those.

sewing pattern review
at Yellowstone Park

I wanted the hood to be more of a rain hood so I used rip-stop and plan on spraying it with a scotch guard type product.  

Skill level required:  I would say that the difficulty level of this pattern is somewhere between a beginner and intermediate.  The directions are laid out clearly and the techniques are not especially difficult.  However, the first time one does a lining or a separating zipper, it can be a little stretching ... but not too challenging.

How you came to choose the pattern:  We take our kids to National Parks all the time and my oldest has been earning patches through their Jr. Ranger program.  When she was younger, I made her a vest and sewed her patches on that.  But, she has grown a lot since that vest and earned a lot more patches.  So, I was in search of a pattern for a new vest for her and her brother who is now also earning patches.

Did you deviate from the pattern?  If yes, how?

Because I was making this vest for patches and wanted it to do double duty as a fishing vest, I did make a few changes.  I made cargo pockets and welt pockets to make it more utilitarian.  For the cargo pockets I followed the tutorial at Andrea's Notebook HERE.  I pinned the tutorial to our Tutorials We are Excited to Try board along with other great tutorials.

sewing pattern review

I also sewed on Velcro strips (the soft fuzzy side) to the vest and used a sticky back Velcro (the hook side) on the patches.  This allows Abi to attach her patches and take them off for washing.  But it also made it so I had a lot of left over soft sticky back and hook sew on Velcro.  Eventually I will have a project needing that combo ... at least I hope.

I did not want it to be reversible and so I just needed to line it.  I used the same instructions in the pattern but simply did not use a reversible zipper and did not put pockets on the inside.

Because I want this vest to last a couple of years, I lengthened it significantly from the pattern and did not make it as narrow as her measurements would call for.

Good:  The vest comes with a ton of different options:
- A hood, collar or collar with detachable hood 
- Patch or In-Seam Pockets 
- Zipper or Snap Closure
 - Puffy/Quilted or Standard 
- Zipper Guard to protect little chins
I especially liked the touch of the zipper guard.  I don't know how necessary it is with my older kids, but it certainly gave the vest a more polished look.  The fit was excellent too.

The Great Outdoors Vest is an excellent option for your boys.  I made one for my son, who is not a tween yet, and he loves it!  And the pattern comes with a full tutorial and color photos in an easy to print PDF.
sewing pattern review
Abi earning her patch (and me taking a photo in terrible light)

Bad:  With all the add-ons and already existing details, this vest took forever to sew.  I know this could be a quick pattern, but the more you add in the details, the more time you need to expect to spend on the vest.  But, my kids insist the time was well spent.

Overall pattern rating:  4  out of 5 bolts