Monday, December 30, 2013

Linky Party Wrap Up

Um...the holidays kind of caught me off guard and threw off my blogging groove. I completely forgot to do the linky party wrap up last week, so better late than never. There were so many great looks's always so hard to just pick one.
Here are my (Sally) picks though:
This coat from Cari Homemaker caught my eye. Great classic look that is a little different than what you would find out in the retail world. If only I lived someplace cold enough to justify making a coat like this I would definitely give this one a shot.
Blue Steel
For my girl's look, I chose this mash up of two patterns to create a wonderfully festive dress fit for the season. Christi over at Sewing In BeTween does a great job of keeping the fun and whimsy of children's patterns but makes them with a little more mature look fit for a tween.

Major Moma here ... My pick was this super cute military look by Stacy at the Land of K.A.  This look is something my daughter would totally rock and I love that she also made a cool coordinating look for herself.

Thank you all so much for linking up!  The next party is around the corner, so check  back often and please continue to link up and show us what you are making!

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Flip From Pants to Skirt

Voting started over at Frances Suzanne, so go and vote!
No. 9 Trousers to Little Black Skirt With Some Sparkle
Sally here from Daisy Chain Creations and my other blogging adventure, Sew Cool for the Tween Scene.   This was my second time to do a 'flip' (thank you Ashley and Emily for letting us do it more than once:) and I had the fun adventure of 'flipping' a pattern for a pair of pants, namely the No. 9 Trousers by Shwin and Shwin.
Image of Number 9 Trousers
 Do you know how hard it is to do that? Luckily, this girl of mine needed a skirt...a plain go-with-anything-in-the-closet type of skirt and I had some black baby corduroy that would be perfect. However, she also needed a Christmas outfit that would get worn more than once. I decided that I'd make the black skirt a little more special, but still neutral enough to go with anything. And that is how this Little Black Skirt With Some Sparkle (as well as my version of an anthropology knock off of a shirt--details on that will be coming soon) was born. 

Because I only had a little bit of the black corduroy and I didn't want to goof up, I decided to test out my creation/idea first. For the first run through I used a pair of cords that my oldest son said he would never wear. Here you can see how I cut out the main pieces. All the other pattern pieces I used as is. However, instead of cutting out the rise for the legs, I cut it straight up. I also adjusted the instructions, instead of sewing the inseam together, I sewed the 2 front pieces together and then the 2 back pieces. (The result of the trial run are at the end of the post.)
 And here is the final result...a cute little black skirt. Now on to the details, which don't really show up in the big picture.
 One thing I did was to do some accents of silver. I used a pretty silver brocade (found at JoAnn's) for the pocket facing, the welt pocket, the inside back part of the waistband and the inside of the kick pleat that I added to the back. This is what dresses it up for the season a little. 
 Here you can see the silver accents a little bit better...but boy is shiny silver hard to photograph well.  You can also see some of the other not so obvious 'flipping' I did.  I added the belt loops to the waistband, because my daughter likes to accessorize.  I also added a couple of pleats on each side of the front, to give the skirt a little more feminine fit.
 And finally, one thing I learned from my trial run is that 10 year old girls don't like tight fitting skirts and therefore I added a kick pleat to the back of my final look.  This allows for a little bit more movement when it comes to walking.  She was happy with that.
Here you can see the kick pleat as well as the details of the silver brocade better.
(I wrote up instructions on how to do a kick pleat here)
And that is my 'flip' from pants to a skirt...really not as hard as it seems. 
 This was my first attempt, which turned out so cute that I almost said forget the black skirt...I'm going with this one instead.
 Thank you so much Ashley and Emily for having me (again). This series has been so much fun to watch! I've loved every single month of it so far and I'm sure the next 6 will not disappoint as well.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Amy from SewsNBows and a pattern review of the Coco Jacket

Hi! I'm Amy from SewsNBows. I sew mostly children's clothing, but dabble in doll clothes and stuff for me. But I HATE being in front of the camera, so you won't see too much of me :)

20131128-184340.jpg I'm new to tween sewing. I woke up one day and my little girl had morphed into a big girl. Her clothes used to be...what kept her from being naked. Now they are an extension of her personality, and suddenly soooo important! I vaguely remember being that age, back in the dinosaur times. But Sew Cool for the Tween Scene came along just in time to give me a refresher course. Striped Bedsheet Dress by SewsNBows
This was before things had to look "department store". It was less than one year ago! What I've discovered about "tween" is that it's not really an age. It's not really a size. It's both of those, but also more. It's a crucial part of a child's development, where they need you but also want to define themselves as separate from you. They are "between" in every sense of the word, it's so important that we give them the confidence to make choices...and even let them make mistakes. I was that mom who followed her baby around with my arms out in case she fell. This is freaking hard. There's no manual on how to raise a tween! But I'm getting comfortable with tween sewing. That's a start ;) I'd love it if you'd visit the Tween Fashion Sewing board on Pinterest. It's full of tween sized patterns, finished garments from the web, and sewing inspiration from designers to department store. Follow along if you'd like, or contact me at the bottom of the post if you'd like to pin to our board :) When SewCool launched, I had just about given up on sewing for my daughter. I remember Gina, Justine, and Shannon's Words of Advice guest posts here, and it encouraged me to keep going. There aren't tons of resources for tween sewing; I think we should stick together! Without further ado, here's my review of the Coco jacket from Heidi&Finn.
Coco Jacket by SewsNBows Pattern Source: HeidiandFinn (Etsy) Sizes available: 6m-5t, & 6-12 Coco Jacket & pattern review by SewsNBows Special materials required: This coat can be made with heavier materials like wool, or light cottons. Trim is optional. The jacket is meant to be worn open; no buttons or zipper needed.
 Skill level required: Advanced beginner How you came to choose the pattern: I was lucky enough to pattern test this jacket! It was my first Heidi & Finn pattern. I'm a huge fan now. Most patterns go up to size 12, which buys me some time, but not much! Did you deviate from the pattern? If yes, how? Nope. But it wouldn't be hard to add 2" to one side make it a button up jacket. That will be my next Coco jacket! Coco Jacket and pattern review from SewsNBows Good: There are no intricate tailoring methods used. I have always been afraid of lined jackets because they tend to be more than my attention span can handle. But the jacket and lining are cut from the same pattern pieces. You sew your jacket and lining RST, then pull it right side out through the sleeve. Bad: You always need to prewash your fabrics, but especially with a lined jacket. If your main fabric and lining aren't prewashed, they can shrink at different rates and leave you with an unwearable, lumpy jacket. Wool often needs to be washed by hand or dry cleaned. You don't have to use wool for this coat, but I did. I love the way it looks, but I have to tumble dry with low heat. Ain't nobody got time for that! In tween sizes, you'll need to be very careful selecting fabric. Use a fun lining or trim, just be sure to get your kid's input. I pictured this pattern as a dressy church jacket, but Bella styles it casually with combat boots. And it works with her style! Ugly: There is a minuscule amount of hand stitching on the sleeve vent. Trust me, it's not that bad. I'm violently allergic to hand sewing, but it didn't even bother me. Coco Jacket and pattern review from SewsNBows Overall pattern rating: lightning bolts. Stay in touch with me! I love seeing your projects and having a network of sewists who can help each other out from time to time :) Facebook G+ Pinterest Twitter Ladies, thanks for having me today! End code

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Go Check Out My Flip

 This is my second time joining this series, how fun for me! It really was a lot of fun!  This time around, I flipped a pants pattern into a skirt and Sophia was the lucky recipient. If you want to read more, go check it out at Frances Suzanne!
And then check back here next week with a how-to for the shirt!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Guest Post with Tips on How to Sew Amazing Tween Boy Clothes

Today we have an amazing seamstress/blogger with us, who I think has the best dressed boys out there in blogland...yes, I said boys. She sews for all 3 of her little guys and does it so well that you can't even tell one of her outfits is homemade, they look so professional and stylish. I wish I had known Sabra when my boys were younger, because I think I would have sewn for them more. 
Here to offer some great words of wisdom, Sabra from Sew a Straight Line.
Maybe it’s because I had three boys first before having a girl, but it honestly never occurred to me that boys were harder to sew for.  All I had were boys, I wasn't looking for “girl stuff”. I really wasn't aware of a discrepancy in project ideas between girls and boys.  I just knew I wanted to make cool things for my kids.  I had boys, so I sewed for boys.  It wasn't until I started reading more and more on blogs where people were lamenting the lack of Boy Stuff, that I started to notice just how much girly things were out there, and how few boy-y.  Thankfully, by that point, I was already in a boy-sew groove.  As my boys have gotten older, I've tried to mature my sewing to match their age group.  Almost two years ago, my oldest became a tween.  The Boy Tween: quite possibly the most under-represented demographic in the home-sewn world.  But not at my house.   
 eaeaster 5  
oliver and olivia coat sew a straight line-2pleated knees Sew a Straight Line-1-3pattern anthology winter wonderland sew a straight line-31  
In the past year, I've sewn more for my 10 year old son than I have for any one else.  Pants, shirts, jackets, even accessories.  I've only purchased one new clothing item for him since December 2012.  My goal was an all mom-made wardrobe for him.  My challenge was that it wouldn't look like an all mom-made wardrobe so he’d actually wear it all.  So today, I want to talk about the challenge of sewing for a tween boy, and give you just a couple tricks and tips for what I do to try to meet that challenge.

First, patterns.  Now, I’m of the belief that you can take quite a few “girl” patterns, and remix them without too much trouble to work great for boys.  I do that a lot on my blog.  But frankly, it’s so much easier to just start with a great pattern already designed with boys in mind.  My two absolute favorite sources for great boy patterns are Ottobre Designs and independent PDF pattern designers.

Ottobre is a Finnish magazine, available in multiple languages, that publishes four issues a year full of kid patterns.

The sizes range from infant through about a US 14.  They have a lot of girl stuff, but I love them because they always have a ton of boy clothing patterns.  And they are good boy patterns.  Like, the stuff you’d buy off the rack, only you get to make it.  Cool stuff.  The draw back?  The magazines have to be ordered online and come from Finland, so take a while to arrive.  Subscriptions are pricey (about $11/issue plus shipping), but well worth it when you consider you get at least 30 patterns each time.  And you have to trace out the patterns included off of a pretty intimidating and confusing pattern sheet with all the patterns overlapping each other.  But totally worth the time and efforts to push through the tracing process to get fabulous patterns.  Also, you probably should be fairly familiar with garment sewing before leaping into an Ottobre.  Especially if you’re used to independently published patterns, Ottobre is going to seem horribly lacking in instructions.  There are no step-by-step pictures, and many steps are written assuming you just know how to ____ (insert sewing technique here).

Independent PDF pattern designers are my other source for great boy patterns.
The PDF format allows for instant download, then printing off the pattern at home.  However, that also means you have to supply the paper and ink for the pattern, and then piece all those papers together before you actually get to working with the pattern itself.  Also, if you’re buying from a wide variety of designers, you may not always be getting the same fit or quality from designer to designer.  So read reviews and shop carefully.  Two designers I've been really happy with, and that have sizes that go into the tween category, are GoTo Patterns and Peek-A-Boo Patterns
.  There are other awesome PDF designers out there, but most don’t have sizes that go beyond an 8.  If you’re comfortable grading up, or have a tween on the smaller side, Blank Slate Patterns has amazing boy patterns, as does Shwin Designs.   The greatest thing about independent designers, is that they go to great lengths to give you fabulous, hold-your-hand instructions.  You usually get step-by-step photographs to accompany the instructions, too, so if you’re a visual learner, independent is the way to go!

Now that you have your boy patterns, how can you take it to the next level and really give your tween something unique and cool?  Details. 
parsley pants F
When sewing for boys, and really, this all includes men, too, design is all in the details.  With girls, you can pick out cute fabric and add superfluous frills to make an item fun and unique.  That’s not going to work so well for older boys.   You have to be more subtle.  And useful.  I swear to you that’s the secret to successful masculine design: slap whatever you want on clothing, just so long as it also does a job, and you’re golden.  Cargo pockets are the best example of this.  I counted something like 9 pockets on a pair of my husband’s pants.  But they don’t look silly, they look cool, and I really think it’s because they have a purpose.  If it’s utilitarian, it works.  So with that in mind, let’s look at a few of my favorite manly frills ;)

Top stitching. 
 Not only looks cool, top stitching reinforces seams.  It has a job, so it’s legal.  Follow seam lines, sew it in parallel rows,  use it where ever.  I swear you can’t go wrong with top stitching.  Contrast top stitching can add awesome interest and really polish up a garment so it looks professional.

scandinavian style boys sew a straight line-3-2
Along that same vein, seam lines are my newest trick with my boys’ clothing.  I’ve been having a lot of fun lately taking a solid pattern piece, cutting it up, adding seam allowances, and putting it back together to get a more tailored look. 
oliver and olivia coat sew a straight line-5
This Olivia and Oliver Pea Coat by Peek-A-Boo Patterns also shows a few other boy-friendly additions. I tacked on epulates.  These are an exception to the “job” rule, though they can be used to hold things in place.  But they are a classic military styling.  And anything military works well in keeping things masculine. 
oliver and olivia coat sew a straight line-7
And then I also added a hood.  Hoods serve an obvious purpose, and are a pretty easy way to add fun and function to your boy tween’s tops. 
oliver and olivia coat sew a straight line-4
Finally, pockets. 

varsity cowl neck sew a straight line-6
Pockets pockets pockets.  Fake, real, flapped, welted.  Whatever, where ever, pockets and boyswear just go together.  What ruffles are to girls, pockets are to boys. 

pattern anthology winter wonderland sew a straight line-1-3
Those are just a few ideas.  What I often do, is look through men’s fashion sites and lookbooks, drawing ideas for my sons from there.   But no matter how cool the garment looks, if it’s not also comfortable, chances are your tween isn’t going to wear it.  Boys seem to be less about the fashion and more about the comfort.  So if you can mesh those two things, you both should be happy with the results.
ottobre relaxed 5
To make the clothes I put so much work into also comfortable and therefore wearable, I try to use natural fibers as much as possible.  Cottons as much as possible, blends if I have to. I like clothing to not be too baggy on my boys, and they prefer to have lots of room to move and play.   Knits are my boys’ favorites and I use knits probably more than any other fabric for them.   Knits help us get a good fit, but keep things comfortable.

knock off g

Sewing for your tween boy doesn’t have to be intimidating.  Start with a solid pattern, add a few extra details to make it unique and more “your kid”, and use good kid-friendly fabrics.  Draw inspiration from menswear, but with a focus on comfort and play, and you’re sure to end up with a great item your boy.

Thanks for having me, Sew Cool for the Tween Scene!  I’d love to share more of my boy looks (and other sewing projects) over at Sew a Straight Line.  Have fun sewing!
And thank YOU Sabra for some really great advice! I learned a lot and wish I had sewn more for my boys.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Go Check It Out!

Our lovely friend Shannon, of Little Kids Grow, just released her first pattern and I was one of the lucky ones to get to test it. It's a wonderfully simple, yet stylish button down shirt with lots of options. She's calling it the Jack & Jill Shirt. 
This versatile pattern goes from 4-12 and really does include something for everyone.
It's got 2 collar options. 
 Plus a ton of sleeve options. And just look at that pleat at the back...simple details make all of the difference.
You should go check out her big reveal over at Pattern Revolution!  And the great thing is she has more patterns to come, and she is focused on making things for the tween ages. Yeah! How she does it all though, I don't know. She is a mom of 6 with one on the way. Expect great things to come from her way.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's That Time Again...Time to Show Us What You've Been Making

It's that time again to show us what you have been sewing for your tween. Last month, while the 4 entries we had were AWESOME, was a little sparse shall we say, so please pass on the word. I for one am inspired by what others are doing, so it's always good to share and show off!
That being said, please only link up:
1. Something you have created
2. For someone between the ages of 9 and 13
3. If you could please either link back to us or grab a button.
That's it! So come on and show us what you have been up to! The linky party will be open for 2 weeks and please be nice and visit those that link up with you:)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wonderful Advice From Someone Who Has Survived the Tween Years

So far on this little adventure we have "met" and been amazed at those that still continue to sew for the tweens. I think knowing that others are out there navigating these murky waters gives hope to those of us just starting out.  Cindy is one of those that have navigated it successfully with one of her kids and she still sews for her even though she's a teen now. She also has some great boy stuff, as her boy is now in tween range. You should go check out her stuff. She's here to share some of her wisdom.
Hello Sew Cool for the Tween Scene Readers! My name is Cindy and I blog at Siestas & Sewing.  I have 4 children between the ages of 14 and 6 who I sew for.  My oldest daughter is 14 and I've been sewing for her on a regular basis for the last 4 years.  I'd say I've successfully navigated the tween years with K since she still "lets" me sew for her.  But there were definitely a few bumps along the way.
Not every piece of clothing I've sewn for her has been a raging success.  In fact, there were a few notable flops that were lucky to be worn once.  Case in point...

Cali Girl Imke, Take 2
Imke top from Sewing Clothes Kids Love
K roxy
 Made by Rae Flashback Tee
I thought I was nailing K's style as both of these shirts were made from brand name surf apparel fabric (Hurley for the long sleeve and Roxy for the short sleeve).  But I didn't take in consideration that K generally avoids prints.  Lesson learned...always consult before purchasing fabric making any decisions!

One of the biggest obstacles I've encountered sewing for K was for her to give me honest feedback. She would say she liked something even when she didn't because she was worried about hurting my feelings. Well, when that piece of clothing is never worn, a mom gets the hint. When asked, she'd finally say she didn't like it but couldn't articulate the WHY. After a lot of talks and observing what clothes she gravitates towards, I think I finally have an idea of what she likes and dislikes.
Solids or stripes are more her thing:
Sorja Slim fit T
1/2009 #34
Both of these shirts were sewn using Ottobre Design 01/09 #34. The stripe shirt is a more recent addition to her wardrobe (last fall) and is worn quite often.

Thanks to Pinterest, it's become a little easier to discern K's style.  2 years ago, I started a "Teen Clothing Inspiration" board for K to pin clothes that she liked on.  I could then look through my sewing pattens and see about recreating the clothes she pinned. 

Both of these dresses were a result of that:

OBX Dress for K
inspired by this pin
Daisy Dress
 inspired by a Land's End dress (I no longer have the pin)
When I asked K what her favorite pieces of clothing that I've sewn for her over the last 4 years, she picked these 2:

K coat
Ottobre Design 06/07 #36 (finished January 2011)

The coat is in it's third year of being worn.  Last year, I added rib knit cuffs to it to extend the sleeve length as they were getting a little short. 
coat sleeves1

Chambray Button Down
 Ottobre Design Woman 05/12 #7 (sewn just recently)
Most of the clothing I sew for K is from Ottobre Design.  Their children's sizing goes up to a European size 170 (approximately a 15/16 year old).  For the chambray button down, I ventured into the woman's magazine and sewed a size 34 (comparable to a woman's small).  It's a little loose through the bust and sides but fits perfect as far as length.  I've had good luck sewing for a tween (and now teen) with Ottobre Design in both the styles and the sizing. 

I try my best not to push my sewing on K.  I'm happy to purchase RTW as long as it fits and is in our budget. Most of her dresses, shorts, and sweatpants are sewn by me as it's hard to find a good fit in the store.  And I refuse to spend $$ on clothes that I'm going to have to do a ton of alterations on.  Might as well start from scratch!

Thank you, Sally and Major Moma for having me.  Sew Cool for the Tween Scene is a great resource for those of us sewing for older children.  I hope the blog continues to grow!