Monday, November 24, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

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Sally here in this stop of the Around the World Blog Hop at Sew Cool for the Tween Scene, where we blog/sew with tweens (9-13 year olds) in mind. Thanks Melanie of Filles a Maman for letting me participate.  This stop is at the blog that I co-author with another mom, Major Mama, who happens to live across the country, making this a double stop I guess. I also have a personal blog over at Daisy Chain Creations where I keep track of all of my creations, not just my tween centered ones.
What am I working on?
Recently I was the lucky winner of an Abilmente prize package over at Naeh-Connection.
Just some of the fabric I won...it felt like Christmas, seriously
I think I have now doubled my pdf sewing pattern list thanks to that prize package. My projects right now (I usually have more than one going at a time) seem to either involve one of those patterns or the fabrics that I received. I have several patterns to assemble and cut out, a couple of shirts cut out that I need to sew up and a pile of fabric just waiting to be turned into stuff.
I'm also in the Christmas mindset and am thinking of what I need to make; from pajamas to ornaments...
   
each of my kids gets at least one thing created by me each year and I always try to keep it from being a last minute thing.
How does my work differ from others?
My work specifically for Sew Cool for the Tween Scene is different in that we are focused on finding patterns and fashion ideas that work for the crazy Tween years of 9-13. Both Major Mama and I have girls in that age range and were kind of underwhelmed when it came to pattern selections for that age range, as well as being a little appalled at the retail world's offerings. Either they were still little girl-ish or too adult looking. We've made it our mission track down patterns that allow them to dress a little more maturely but at the same time remain modest and age appropriate. Just in the last year it's been fun to see many pattern creators expanding their size ranges and to be creating some stylish designs that work for this age group. You can read more about it here.
Why do I create what I do?
I create because I can, because I need an outlet that allows me to have immediate (compared to motherhood) results and because creativity is a stress reliever. A favorite quote of mine goes "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." and sewing helps me with that desire.
Thought I'd share a picture of the other gal I create for.
How does my creating process work?
It usually starts with a need or a bit of inspiration of fabric or pattern that catches my eye. Or when one of my girls says they would like something, I usually try to create it for them...within reason of course. I love it when they come to me and say "I need a black skirt for my upcoming band concert." or "Could you make me a poodle skirt for our themed Read-a-Thon?" It gives me a chance to think it through and make something that is not only needed but personally made for them. I love it!

For the non-sewing/creating part of blogging, the writing, I love coming up with our posts that follow trends and current fashion. I have fun pursing the internet for inspiration and seeing the beautiful creations of others.

Now to pass the baton on to someone else...check out Stacy at The Land of KA! She creates such stylish clothing for her kids and for herself!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pattern Review: Ready to Go biker jacket

Pin It Today we have Sabra from Sew a Straight Line sharing an amazing boy project.  Who says you cannot sew cool things for boys????  She shared this jacket on Project Run and Play and I (Major Moma) just knew we had to have her share it here too.

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Hi, I’m Sabra from Sew a Straight Line and I’m here to talk about the Ready to Go denim biker jacket by Ottobre Design.  The jacket pattern is found in issue 4/2014, pattern #40. 

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This pattern is for older kids, perfect for tweens, with a size range of 134-170 cm.  All of Ottobre patterns, a Finish pattern magazine, come in metric European sizing, which goes off the height of the child.  This took me some getting used to, when I first started sewing Ottobre patterns two years ago.  Now, I prefer it.  It is much more accurate and consistent than traditional US sizing.  It also means that I keep accurate measurements of my children up to date.  In my experience, 134cm is about a child’s size 7/8 in US sizing, with 170 being about a 16/18.  I sewed the biker jacket in a 152 for my 11 year old, who wears a child large or 12 in ready to wear.  The finished jacket fits him well.  It’s not super fitted on him, so he can layer clothing under it and use it as a functional jacket.  I’m very happy with the fit, and so is he. 

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Sewing a jacket can be expensive, and the Ready to Go requires quite a bit of hardware.  It needs the heavy-duty separating zipper for the front, plus four additional zippers for pockets and cuff details.  I wanted to keep things consistent, and durable, so went with metal outer-wear zippers for all five.  In addition to the zippers, the jacket uses 10 heavy-duty snaps as functioning closures and additional details.

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I was able to purchase all of my hardware at a big-box fabric store, using coupons.  Going the route I did, I probably spent close to $20 in just hardware.  You could likely use cheaper materials, but it might compromise the look and/or the durability of the finished jacket.

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The pattern calls for denim for the outer shell of the jacket.  I used outdoor canvas.  I had it on-hand, and after spending so much on hardware, thought I should try to save some money on fabric.  Plus, it was the exact color I wanted.  The canvas I used was intended for outdoor furniture and had been treated with waterproofing.  I thought this would be perfect for a jacket, and it has worked well.  Water beads on the jacket.  If using denim or other canvas, I’d look into waxing the material to make the jacket most-weather appropriate.  Plus, waxing just looks so cool!

For the lining, used a shiny synthetic that was in my stash.  I’m sorry, I don’t know what it is exactly.  It has no stretch, and is fairly thin.

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It worked quite well as lining.  The pattern also calls for a small amount of cotton for the pocket bags.  I just used the same fabric for the pockets as I did for the lining.


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This was a pretty intense sew.  There are 14 pattern pieces, ending with a total of 42 cut pieces to sew together! Plus, interfacing,the three zippers, and finishing with the 10 snaps.  Tons of topstitching, a full lining, and some new-to-me techniques made this a lengthy, and challenging project.  But I did enjoy it quite a bit, too.  I’d say this jacket is, at least, a Confident Intermediate sew.  Most of the sewing isn’t difficult, but there is a lot of it. 

The hardest part, for me, was attaching the lined cuffs to the lined sleeve.  I couldn’t figure it out by reading the instructions.  Ottobre is great with instructions, and very thorough, but they do not include illustrations of the process, usually.  The attaching of the cuffs was near the end of the marathon sewing of the jacket, and my brain just couldn’t process how to get things sewn together without exposed seams.  So I fudged and just sewed right sides together, leaving exposed seams at the top of the cuffs on the inside.

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I’m okay with it.  You can't tell from the outside at all, even when zipped fully open.

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But now that I have stepped back from the jacket, and it’s been a few weeks, I *think* I understand what Ottobre wanted me to do to keep things finished inside and out.  I’d recommend breaking the sewing of the jacket into a few days, and not trying to do it all in an afternoon like I did!

I also messed up at the hem in a couple of different ways.  I didn't keep things neat and pretty on the inside when attaching the waistband. No excuse for this, really.  I was just tired and wanted to finish, so sped through a step that I should have taken my time on; pinning, smoothing, and otherwise making sure things were done properly.

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 My other mistake was that, when I went to attach the waistband, couldn't understand why it was so long.  I had an extra few inches at the one end, hanging off the edge of the jacket.  I assumed I'd cut wrong, and lopped those extra inches right off.  If I had been smart, I would have consulted the line drawings of the pattern and seen that the waistband does, in fact, extend off the left side, crossing over onto the right, as a style effect.  I didn't discover my mistake until I went to install my snaps at the very end and realized I had lost that really cool bottom look.  Don’t lop off anything before double checking with the pattern!

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You can also see, from these pictures, that my stitching isn't great.  I ran out of topstitching thread part way through, but was in too much of a rush to go buy more.  So I tried, for a while, to do double stitching with regular thread.  But that got tedious and looked messy.  So then I just finished things with regular thread, which didn't sew very smoothly through the thick layers of canvas. 

Overall, the jacket is great.  I’m very happy with the end product, lopped off waistband and all.  It looks cool, fits well, and does not look homemade (unless you look closely at the ugly stitching in places).  The details in the jacket are fabulous, and so authentic.  The shoulders are padded and quilted,

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There is a hanging tab inside the collar of the neck, elbow darts, and then all that piecing and topstitching.  Real deal, so cool!  

I can't think of one thing I would change on this pattern.  The only issues I had, were ones where I made a mistake in spite of the instructions and the pattern.  The fit is great, it looks amazing, totally professional details and finishing, and you get exactly what you expect to get going in.  This is definitely not a pattern to rush into or through, and not for anyone new to sewing.  But if you have the patience, the time, and a good understanding of garment construction and techniques, I absolutely recommend the Ready to Go jacket. 

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I give it a full five bolts, for yielding a jacket just like the pictures promise, for walking you through all the steps (even those I tripped up on), a great size range with a fabulous fit, and for including so many professional details. Like, all the details.  You can see more pictures of the jacket, and the rest of the outfit I made to go with it using two other Ottobre patterns, on my blog, Sew a Straight Line

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pattern Review: Etage Dress and Top

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We recently were connected by a reader, the lovely Joan, she wanted to share a new pattern that she has sewn for her grandchildren and neighbor kids.  So of course we asked her if she would be willing to do a reveiw so everyone can see this pattern.  And she kindly complied. 

Here is her review of the Etage Dress and top by Sew Straight and Gather.



Pattern Source: Sew Straight Patterns  at sewstraightandgather.com

Sizes available: 12 months to 12 years

#TweenSewing


Special materials required: You need knit fabric, in one or several colours. T-shirt knits are the easiest to work with, and lighter weight is better.

Skill level required: Advanced Beginner.   You will need a bit of experience sewing with knits, but there are no buttons zippers or anything complicated. The actual sewing is easy, but because the Etage is asymmetrical, you need to keep your wits about you when cutting and assembling. However, there is a great series of picture to walk you through this.

How you came to choose the pattern: I was part of the original tester group. The designer Terri worked really hard at that, putting us through several different versions until she had it perfect. The instructions and the sizing for the Etage are perfect!



Did you deviate from the pattern?  If yes, how?  The two in my pictures are standard size 9 and 11. I just added leggings to match with the Top version to make it a complete outfit.

Good:
 Sizes: This pattern comes in a huge range of sizes, and seem to please every girl. My nine and twelve year old neighbours loved theirs, my 4 year old granddaughter has 3 now, and I have two more on the cutting table for my 11 and 13 year old granddaughters. Our tester group had girls of every age, and it looked great on all of them.



Style: The Etage is twirly, and unique in its look and construction. There is a top version with three layers and a dress version with four, along with several different sleeve lengths and a sleeveless version. You can use one fabric for the whole thing, or combine several different ones as you wish.  You can use a regular hem, a rolled hem, or a lettuce edge for various looks. Check out the different versions on the website for inspiration. The end result can be anything from cute and playful if you make it in several prints, to super- sophisticated – check out the all black version on the website.



The Pattern: You can print the whole pattern, or just the size you need. The instructions are excellent and there are very clear pictures to walk you right through the process.

Bad:   Pattern assembly takes a while, and you need to pay close attention when you are cutting it out. Terri has provided wonderful diagrams to make the pattern assembly easy, and the patterns are well marked to keep cutting clear. It’s not difficult, just time consuming. And the sewing itself is quick and easy.

My hints to make this process go smoothly:
 1. Unless you know for sure you will only make size 12, avoid the temptation to print just one size and assemble the whole thing and trace the size you need on tissue paper. That gets most of the work done up front.
2. Put a sticky note with the name of each piece on the cut out fabric. This is especially true if your fabric looks the same on both sides. Lay it out on the floor beside you, just the way Terri shows you in the diagram, and work your way through following the instructions.
3. If you upcycle some old Tshirts for your first version and use several different colours so you don’t get confused, you‘ll be an expert by the time you move on to your pricier fabric.

Ugly: nothing!



Overall pattern rating: 5 bolts

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ansley Top By Blaverry Blog Tour

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I'm excited to be a part of this blog tour for a great pattern...that goes up to tween sizes..yea!!! The pattern is the Ansley Twirl Top/Dress by Blaverry Patterns and it has been well received. Sophia styled this one a little bit country chic and I like the look. There are just so many possibilities with this great pattern!
 The pattern is available in the Etsy shop of Blaverry and it goes up to size 14. And get this...there are a ton of options: 2 dress, 2 top, 6 sleeve, 3 collar, 3 hem. You can do the math, but that means a lot of different styles (I'll be sharing another one over at Daisy Chain Creations in a couple of days).  Needless to say, this pattern is a bargain when you think of all of the options. The only thing needed is some woven fabric and a couple of buttons. As for skill level, this would be a good advanced beginner pattern.
 I really followed the pattern as is for this top, but added the lace by chopping off most of the short sleeve. The only real deviation I made was to pleat the front instead of gather it...just a little more flattering on a tween, I think. I also added just one button. Since the top is loose enough, I figured Sophia would be wearing something underneath it and liked how my contrasting placket stuck out a little...which I forgot to get a picture of.
 The Good--Easy to follow directions, layered pattern options for printing of not only size, but style options as well, easy to sew up and doesn't require too much extra stuff...I had all that I used in my stash. Plus it's a comfortable shirt that could be layered for winter.
 The Bad--The directions are a little more minimal than a lot of the pdfs out there. They are more in line with the standard printed patterns...no hand holding and example pictures for every single step. That's why I said advanced beginner for skill level...there is an assumption of sewing knowledge behind some of the steps. That's not really a bad thing, but something to be aware of.  Also, Sophia was hoping the top would be more tunic like...so next time I'll make it a little longer.
 The Ugly--Really nothing...
 I give this pattern 4 bolts.
As for the look...I think I like the country look on my girl.  
 So if you are looking for a great pattern...go check out the Ansley Top/Dress and don't forget to use the discount code. Then go check out the other versions that these amazing ladies are coming up with!
Disclaimer--I received this pattern was given to me for free as part of the tour, but all opinions are my own.
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November 6th

November 7th

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pattern review: Burdastyle Blouson Jacket

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Today we have a guest reviewer Eliza of Eliza Threads.  I (Major Moma) saw this jacket on Burdastyle and right away asked Eliza to do a review for us.

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A bit about me
I’m a self taught sewer and have been sewing since I was a girl. Mostly for me but now I have girls of my own I love to sew for them too!! I think this website specifically for tweens is a great idea – it’s a tricky age. My girls are 9 and 12 and now they are tweenagers they don’t like the cutesy kids stuff much anymore so its great to see what others are sewing for their tweens too!

Pattern review by Eliza Threads



Name of the pattern:  Blouson 148
Pattern Source:  Burdastyle magazine March 2013
Sizes available:  Sizes 134 to 158 which is equivalent to size 8 to 16 in age I think although that’s not how it worked out for me.
Special materials required: Zipper foot
Skill level required:  Intermediate

How you came to choose the pattern:  My daughter had been asking me for a winter bomber jacket and had picked out some heavy wool coating. I had been looking for a while for a pattern before I found this pattern in a Burdastyle mag at my local library.

Pattern review by Eliza Threads

Did you deviate from the pattern? If yes, how?
I deviated quite a bit from the pattern. I added a hood using another pattern and enlarging it a little around the neck to fit. Seeing it made up now I think it would have been better to make it a bit bigger still. If I were to make it again I would enlarge the hood and the neckline. The other thing I changed was the way it fastens at the front. I decided to put a zipper in with a cover over the zipper because sometimes if it’s particularly windy it can be felt through the zip teeth! I also added some toggle closures because I love any excuse to add some cute toggles! I lined the jacket in some cotton jersey and included a secret pocket with a zip for money and phone etc. 

The other thing that I changed was the size. My daughter is 12 and is not big for her age but these patterns seem to run a bit small so I traced it out at a 16 and because the wool fabric was so thick and heavy I added 2cm at the side and shoulder seams. It fits really well, as in its big enough to fit a jumper (sweater) under it which was the fit I was hoping for. I only wish I had made the sleeves a little longer though, if she has a growth spurt they are going to be too short. So I would recommend carefully measuring your small persons arm length before you cut!!

Good: I think this is a really great style – perfect for a boy or a girl. I think this would also be really cute in a lighter floral or more decorative fabric for spring/summer.

Pattern Review by Eliza Threads


Bad: Not sure about the sizing of this pattern – I would definitely recommend making a toile first to check the size and fit and consider whether you want to be able to wear a layer or two under it. The pattern pieces need to be traced and seam allowances added which is a bit time consuming and I generally find Burda pattern instructions a little hard to understand. They are all text with no diagrams so it’s a good idea to have a bit of sewing experience before you tackle one.

Ugly: Not ugly at all!!

Overall pattern rating: 4 bolts

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Thank you Eliza for sharing about this pattern.  You did a great job making a jacket I think any tween would love.  Everyone, you should go check more details on her blog: Eliza Threads