Friday, May 30, 2014

Swimwear Round up

I hope the last few posts about sewing swimwear motivated you.  There are really great options and ways to get creative in sewing your tween boy or girl new swim suits.  And as we all know sewing a custom item for your tween is not always less expensive than ready-to-wear (RTW).  But, it is usually the case for swimwear as they use so little fabric and swimsuits can be so expensive.

 Are you ready to go?  Well in addition to the great Peek-a-boo patterns we shared  on our previous post (HERE), there are lots of great options from both big pattern companies and indies. 


McCalls M6548 is not advertised as a swim suit pattern, but I think it easily could be sewn up as one.  The only adaption would be to sew in a liner in the shorts and reduce the ease in the shirt.  It comes in sizes up to 14, so it is a great option for the bigger kids.

Kwik Sew has a few different options in their swim/dancewear section. I really like the skirts and the mixing and matching you could do with these styles.  (links in the captions)

 And Jalie patterns has a wonderful one-piece suit that would be great for a gal who is starting to develop a figure.  It is a modest and stylish for the older girl.

Jalie 3350
Peek-a-boo pattern shop (affiliate link) has a ton of great suits and we had the pleasure of interviewing the designer behind those great suits .   You should definitely click on over and meet Amy and see why she designs such great suits for boys and girls.  Yes, you heard me, she has wonderful suits for boys too!  And many of them come in sizes up to 12.

Surfs up board shorts

Aloha Burn Blocker

Monday, May 26, 2014

vintage patterns - modern swimsuits

I have always had a hard time finding swim suits for Abi.  Even when she was little, we had a hard time finding ones that fit her long skinny torso.  And, frankly, I don't like little bikinis on children.   I know many people disagree with me and I am not judging those that buy them for their kids.  It is just my style of parenting.
stretch and sew swimsuits

After some trial and error, I learned that a tanki style is great for her.  It complies with my modesty requirements but allows for her long torso to stretch out and not be constrained.  And, when I make her suits, they fit like a glove, unlike the RTW suits.

vintage sewing pattern

vintage swimsuit

This year I wanted to use the vintage patterns I received from my grandmother.  She passed way this winter, so these patterns are even more dear to me these days.

In order to test the fit, I used some left over scrap knit I had from previous projects and then talked to Abi about what modifications she wanted.

Then, I used some left-over swim fabric from her suit two years ago and some costume fabric to make a practice version.  The way I figured it, if it fit, she has a spare suit.  If it did not fit, I did not waste my new fabric and I did not need to go shopping again.

I combined two patterns to get the basic frame of the suit.  I used Stretch and Sew Children's one and two Piece Swim Suit Pattern no. 1275 for the bottoms.  And then I cut off the bottom from the Girls 1 Piece swim suit.

She wanted little boy shorts, but I did not have that pattern.  Or so I thought.  After I finished the practice and the final, I found Boy's Swim Trunks Pattern No. 1225 when looking for a different pattern entirely!

vintage swimsuit
Of course I then ended up going to JoAnns to pick up some more swim fabric.  Their selection was actually pretty good and I had to keep my self from getting distracted by the pretty fabrics.  I bought enough for coordinating shorts for Abi and some blue for my son.

The shorts for Abi turned out a little bigger than planned but the ones I sewed for Eli fit her perfect.  Luckily a 1/2 yard has enough for two shorts so I will just make her another pair in the Eli size.

NOTE:  I have a serger and normally would use it.  But it was acting up so I exclusively used the 3-step zig-zag stitch.  It worked fabulous!  So, please don't think you need a fancy machine to sew swimsuit.  Also, I was able to use fold-over elastic as the binding.  Wow, that stuff is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

Have you started on your kid's suits yet?  Believe me, this could be your easiest project this year.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Splashing around with Peek a Boo Patterns

Today we have a special treat.  We are interviewing none other but Amy from the Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop! (affiliate link)  As I was putting together this series, I noticed that she had the most and the most fashionable designs out there for children's swim wear.  I particularly appreciated the boy options and how so many of them had sleeves in order to protect the kids from the sun.  (I read once that most skin cancer is caused by burns and sun exposure which occurred before the age of 12.)

affiliate link

Amy, thank you for being a part of this series.  Could you tell us how long have you been designing patterns?

I started sewing 4 years ago shortly after the birth of my first child; nothing like a baby girl to provide some motivation :) I started with a blog and eventually opened up the pattern shop in the fall of 2011.

Hang ten rash guard

A lot of us sew but what made you decide to take the giant step of becoming a pattern designer? 

I am a completely self-taught seamstress and learned most of what I know from bloggers. The more blogs I looked at the more I got the itch to give it a try on my own. One thing led to another and I realized I could make my children almost anything I wanted if I learned how to draft patterns. I definitely get a lot of satisfaction from dressing my children in clothes made with love that they love to wear.

When did you start designing swimwear?

  coney island tankini

I came up with my first swimsuit patterns in the spring of 2012 and I fell in love immediately.

Many of your patterns work well for boys and girls; are having unisex options important to you?

With 2 little boys of my own I definitely keep the boys in mind when I design. I like to do some looks that are just for the girls or just for the boys but I always include some unisex patterns in each of my pattern line-ups for the season. Many people have both boys and girls to sew for and it's always nice to be able to make something special for each child all from the same pattern. 

coco cay colorblock tankini

You have so many varieties of suits, what inspires you so that you can be so creative?

I love designing swimwear! My daughter gets so excited anytime I'm working on a new suit and I have a great time coming up with suits that are fun and also modest. Swimsuits are surprisingly quick to sew and I love that I can make something that will fit her like a glove and that is also unique. Anytime we are at the pool or splash pad I'm definitely on the lookout for new design elements to mix-up and add to future designs. Mostly though I just do a lot of sketching :)

So many designers shy away from the larger children’s sizes; what motivated you to size up to 12yr?

surf's up board shorts 

When I started designing patterns it seemed the industry standard was to go to an 8 so I did that as well. After many requests for larger sizes I now offer almost all of my new patterns up to a 12. So many children need a size 12 at a younger age and I'm glad I can help fill the need for looks that are still appropriate and fun for a child. 

Well,  I am sure grateful that you do provide such a robust selection for both for boys and girls in the bigger sizes.  Thank you Amy for sharing your thought on designing swimwear with us. 

And if any of you are looking for beach wear patterns, peek-a-boo pattern shop has hats and cover-ups in addition to even more suits.

(Update: Sew Cool now has a few affiliate links and Peek-a-boo Patterns is one of them.  We think Amy carries great patterns for tweens so we think the affiliate program is a good fit.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Shell in my hand; Sand in my toes...

Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner so, what are you sewing to get ready for the warm weather?  When I think of summer, I think of trips to the beach, water, gun fights, and finding a local water park to splash around in.  And what do all of these things require?  A swimsuit.

 In anticipation of all the water fun, I thought it would be fun to have a series on sewing swimwear for our tweens.  So for the next couple weeks we will be hosting "Shells in our hand; Sand in our toes..."  Hopefully we will motivate some of you to sew up some swimsuits and if you do, please share with the group on our linky parties!

There are a lot of people out there sewing swim suits!  I thought it would be hard until my first one three years ago.  I then found out that swimsuits are way easier than they seem and really worth the effort.  So often when I sew I am not really saving much money.  You can buy cheap kids clothes easily.  I really sew to get the particular look my children/I want and for the personal satisfaction.  But sewing a swimsuit can be much cheaper than buying one.

Zaaberry has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to make a basic one piece suit.  This tutorial should take all the mystery, and fear out of making a suit.

Everyday Chaos
Here is another tutorial by Everyday Chaos talking about how she made this simple one-piece.

Sugar cubes and spice cake

Sugar Cubes and Spice Cake gives some great tips on how to sew binding on your swim suits.

Now that you see how to make the basics, what about modifying that classic one-piece?

Creative Chicks

 Creative Chicks has a virtual laundry list of tutorials on various modifications to your one-piece.

No Big Dill

No Big Dill tutorial
And have you seen the suits Katy has made at No Big Dill???  Really, her's are amazing.  I love staring at them to get inspiration for my daughter and she has a tutorial on how to make simple but very cute modifications to a basic tank one-piece suit.

 There are a couple of ways to finish the edges of a swimsuit.  One is to use a lining without binding.  Another is to bind the edges with a contrast or self-fabric.  This can create a nice finished and professional look.  And I learned through reading several blogs that some of you are using fold-over elastic as a binding on swimsuits.  I bought some recently for my project that you will see later on in the series and watched this video on YouTube:  How to sew fold over elastic.  It was incredibly helpful.  I like the look of it but am unsure how it would hold up under heavy exposure to chlorine.  But since my girl does not swim often, I am not worried.

Now that you have some inspiration:

Ready,    Set,   Go!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May Linky Party

Summer is just around the corner (we only have 7 more days of school, can you believe it?!) and we would love to see what you are sewing for your tweens! It seems like summer fashion is a much easier fit for tween sewing and creating. Curious what you think...
You know the drill:
1. Show us something you have created (sewn, knit, get the idea) that your tween can wear or accessorize with.
2. Make sure it's something for the ages of 9-13.
3. Grab a link and spread the love...we really do want to see what others are making for their tweens!
So link away! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pattern Review: Day Tripper

 I was looking through different pattern sites for some summer clothes for Abi.  I specifically was thinking shorts and capris, but I really was not being picky and was just brousing to see what my options were.  At Go To Patterns and Co you can sort the patterns by size so I selected size 12yr.  Admittedly, there are not a ton of patterns for pre-teens, but there are a growing number and they are worth checking out.  But as I was looking, I saw that the Day Tripper top by Shwin Designs was listed.  I had just bought this pattern for myself and had not considered it for my daughter.  But it does come in sizes woman's XXS to XL so I figured it was worth a shot.

The pattern is a .pdf and can be bought at Go To Patterns and Co, Shwin Designs, or Pattern Anthology.

Pattern Review

Special materials required:  The top is a dolmen sleeve shirt that can be made with knit or woven fabric.  You will need rib knit for the bands on the sleeves, neck, and hem.

Pattern Review

Skill level required:  The Day Tripper Top is super easy!  If you have not used rib knit before, this is a great top to do so for the first time.  The openings are wide thus making it easy to handle the ribbing and stretching it to size.

Good:  The pattern has those sleeves that are so on trend right now and it comes with pockets which are always a hit, even if my daughter is weird with them.  The pattern is designed for short or long sleeves and has an optional epaulet for the shoulders that I chose to skip.

Pattern Review

Bad: I am not sure if this pattern really works for a size 12 girl.  As you can see, it hangs a bit big on her and a few times it fell off of her shoulder.  But this is not all bad news.  My girl is quite slim and an average or plus size girl would likely have much more luck.  Also, the relaxed fit looks quite comfy and could accommodate a developing figure.

Pattern Review

Overall pattern rating:  I am definitely going to sew one of these tops up for  me in the future.  It is a pretty version of a t-shirt and seems like a good wardrobe staple. It sewed up fast but did not look plain and I think that is a wonderful trait in a pattern.  
I give it (4) bolts.

Pattern Review