Sunday, 17 March 2019

Fab Free Kids' Patterns For 6 Years And Up



When I compiled 'My Favourite Free Children's Sewing Patterns' post a couple of years ago, I found that so many of the free children's wear patterns out there tended to be for toddlers and very young children, with a lot of the sizing stopping around six years. And with most kids going to school at this age, and becoming increasingly independent, theoretically more sewing time is freed up for their parents and carers. Yet ironically, this is the age when most of the free kids' sewing patterns dry up!

My daughter will turn six this year, so with a healthy dose of self-interest, I have compiled this list of great-looking free sewing patterns with sizing that go up to at least approx. 8 years. You're welcome! As with my previous blog post list of free kids' sewing patterns, this isn't an exhaustive list of every free pattern out there. This is a selection of patterns that I think look well-drafted and could be useful for creating a well-rounded kids' wardrobe. And I personally plan to try out most of them! I haven't had time to try downloading and investigating every one of these patterns yet, however, where possible, I have included information about the process of accessing the patterns. A massive thanks to all these awesome and generous pattern designers for making their hard work available for free.


Tops:


(image source: Misusu Patterns)

sizes EU 62 - 164 (approx. 0-3 months to 13-14 years)
(I reviewed this pattern here)

The Rowan tee is an over-sized, boxy, unisex-style T-shirt with two sleeve variations and optional patch pocket that is designed for knit fabrics. This one is easily downloadable from their site. 


(image source: Threads by Caroline)

sizes approx. 9 months to 11 years

A cute, unisex T-shirt pattern that includes long and short sleeve variations and optional shoulder ruffles and patch pocket? Yes please! The Ester and Ebbe T-shirt, which is available in Swedish as well as English, isn't easily located on their website. However, there are two ways to access it (and the sweet Vera skirt pattern, also free): you can access the files by signing up to the 'Threads by Caroline - Sew and Tell' Facebook group, or get them emailed to you by signing up to their newsletter, which you can do from the bottom of their site. 



sizes 3 to 14 years

This simple, long-sleeved T-shirt pattern is billed as a pattern for girls, but I personally think this top would be equally suitable for boys if they're into slimmer fits. It could be a great option for making sleep wear tops as well. Ok, I've convinced myself; I'm making this for sleep wear whenever one of my kids next needs some. This pattern is easily downloadable, no sign ups needed, but the site does require you to navigate round A LOT of adverts. 


(image source: Made By Oranges)

sizes EU 92 - 164 (approx. height in cms)

The 'Made by Oranges' design team are the people behind My Image, B*Inspired and B-Trendy pattern magazines, and they've made a number of their patterns available as very reasonably priced PDFs. This free tunic-length hoodie pattern could easily be transformed into a more classic, unisex hooded sweatshirt style if you desired by shortening it and possibly adding a hem band. Downloading this pattern is painless, just make sure you are selecting the version of the language you'd prefer (Dutch, German, English, French). I ended up downloading the Dutch version first time round.  




sizes 3 to 14 years

The tie-front detail, dolman sleeves and relaxed fit make this a really lovely pattern that would look fabulous in drapier single jerseys. I think this could be a real winner with early- and pre-teens, but then what do I know?! As with their Free T-shirt pattern (listed above), this pattern is easy to download but you have to dodge heaps of adverts. 



(image source: Petitboo)

sizes 2 - 10 years

This sweet little knit top pattern has a curved hem and folded sleeve details, and it could easily be lengthened into a dress. I have made a garment using this pattern but have yet to write a review, however it came out really nicely. You will need to be a member of Craftsy to access this pattern, which is simple enough to do. 


(image source: Life Sew Savoury)

sizes 4 to 16 years

This swing tee pattern has been graded out to a size 16 years, which seems mighty generous. It's flared at the hips with a slight high-low hem and could be a great pattern to use up small lengths of drape-y knits. I'd love to make this with different fabrics for the front and back. Accessing this pattern is slightly confusing because you are asked to click on a button to download this pattern via Craftsy, however once clicked you don't get redirected to Craftsy at all, and in fact stay on the original site to complete the transaction. 


(image source: Hey June Handmade)

sizes 6 - 16 (I'm assuming that's years)

This prolific pattern company has a number of free sewing patterns, four of which I'm including in this post because I think they look well drafted, and are offered in a generous range of sizes. This swing tee is very similar to the one pictured above it, but seems to have a slightly more trapeze-shaped silhouette and exaggerated hem dip. You can't accuse me of not being thorough. The pattern includes A0 and copyshop versions, as well as your regular print at home option, and was very easy to download.  


(image source: Ikatee patterns)

sizes 3 - 8 years

This beautiful summer blouse pattern is one of the five free patterns on offer from the gorgeous French sewing pattern company, Ikatee, when you sign up to their mailing list. 


(image source: Hey June Handmade)

sizes 2 - 14 (I'm assuming that's years)

If you're looking for an easy hot-weather/holiday-wear project to make for a girl (or boy if they wish of course!), the Happy tank may be worth a look. Designed for knit fabric, the braided racerback straps are a feature that I'm assuming would be fun to make, and this pattern could easily be lengthened into a dress. I also like how clean and user friendly the Hey June Handmade website is, and how easy it is to access their free patterns. Thank you!


Bottoms:

(image source: Elegance and Elephants)

sizes 12 months - 9 years
(I reviewed this pattern here)

These classic knit sweatpants look like they have a high comfort factor. They look great for lounging around or more sporty activities. Downloading this pattern was painless, FYI.


(image source: Ikatee patterns)

sizes 3 - 12 years

Another of the five free patterns on offer from Ikatee when you sign up to their mailing list. If these were made in interlock, rib or jersey, they might make great pyjama bottoms. 


(image source: Sprouting Jube Jube)

sizes 2 - 10 years
(I reviewed this pattern here)

I've made countless pairs of this basic leggings pattern now, often lengthening them to the ankle. I really can't recommend the fit of these enough. Please note: you will need to be a member of Craftsy to access this pattern.


(image source: @botterman_empire on Instagram)

sizes 2 - 11 years (plus adult women's sizes)
(I reviewed this pattern here)

I had forgotten all about this pattern until my amazingly talented friend Emily made the utterly perfect pair pictured above. After a number of wears, I didn't find the adult version of these as comfy as I'd hoped, so I'd recommend using less-than-precious fabric for a trial pair and find out if your recipient likes wearing them before you make more. Accessing the pattern was simple. 


(image source: Bel'Etoile)

sizes 3 to 14 years

Kind of like a knit version of the City Gym shorts listed above, the Siem shorts have a longer leg length and, being knit, are possibly more comfortable to wear. I'm thinking that this style could work well as summer sleep wear as well (evidently I am obsessed with figuring out if a pattern is suitable for sleep wear!). Oh, AND the pattern is available in Dutch as well as English. 


(image source: @horsesloveapples on Instagram)

sizes 6 months - 12 years
(I reviewed this pattern here)

I think this is a wonderful, basic, woven shorts pattern, however I know I'm not alone in finding that it comes up a bit small, so you might want to opt for a size larger than you'd usually pick. I've also lengthened this pattern to make pyjama bottoms, and generally speaking it's a great canvas for all sorts of customisation and personalisation. This easily downloadable pattern is split into two size ranges: 6 months to 4 years, and 5 to 12 years. 


(image source: Small Dreamfactory)

sizes approx. 0-2 months to 10 years
(I reviewed this pattern here)

If you're looking for a simple A-line knit skirt then stop the clock. Personally, I found that this skirt came out very short, so you may wish to combine the width you need with a longer length. This pattern prints out on impressively few pages, however, be prepared to add your own seam and hem allowances. 


(image source: Hey June Handmade)

sizes 2 - 10 (I'm assuming that's years)

Yet another free pattern by Hey June Handmade, this skirt can be made as an A-line style or as a gathered tiered style (as pictured) and features the clever addition of attached knit shorts underneath. This is PERFECT for my skirt-loving, tree-climbing little girl, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who knows one of those! Easy to download. 


Playsuits and Dresses:

(image source: Elegance and Elephants)


sizes 12 months - 9 years

This woven playsuit pattern has some lovely details and would look fabulous in a solid or printed fabric. 




(image source: Purl Soho)

sizes 2 to 11 years

Another lovely, tie-shoulder, woven playsuit pattern. I'd like to try adding a simple rectangle shape skirt piece to the bottom instead of the shorts section to make this pattern into a dress.


(image source: Sewpony)

sizes 12 months to 10 years

This bodice-and-full-skirt dress has a relaxed style and a number of optional design details (square or round neck, pockets, collar, side ties, turn-back cuffs). I plan to try making this pattern for Dolores in gingham to be worn as a school dress in warmer months. Please note: you need to sign up to the Sewpony newsletter to access this pattern. After you sign up, you will be sent an email that includes a link to the download page. 


(image source: Made By Oranges)

Scarlet Dress by Made by Oranges
sizes EU 74 - 164 (approx. height in cms)

This spec drawing may not look super inspiring, but the modelled images that you can see here look really sweet. I think this is designed for wovens, but I couldn't tell for sure via the website and have yet to download it for myself. However, what I can tell you is that a free dress pattern with long sleeves can be a rare and therefore valuable thing, depending on the climate where you live of course!



(image source: Hey June Handmade)

sizes 12 months to 8 years

My daughter has owned several hand-me-down dresses like this in the past which were soooo useful in the summer. They are the perfect summer holiday garment if you're going somewhere warm because they don't need ironing. I'm planning to make a few of these this year in lightweight jersey for Dolores to use as summer nightdresses. Unlike some of the other Hey June Handmade free patterns, this one doesn't have a copyshop option but is very easy to download, and pleasingly the PDF includes the layers function so you don't need to waste ink printing out all the sizes you don't need. 



(image source: It's always autumn)

sizes 4 to 14 years

It's like a mini April Rhodes's Staple dress! This simple knit dress is definitely a project that you could make the evening before setting off on holiday, or when all their summer clothes are in the laundry! They've also given instructions to modify this pattern into a raglan sleeved version for something a bit fancier.


Nightwear, Undies and Swimwear 


(image source: Sew a Little Seam)

sizes 12 months to 12 years (plus adults sizes)

This fantastic basic pyjama pattern is basically a one-stop shop for all your kid's sleepwear needs because it includes heaps of variations: shorts, capri or long length bottoms with elastic or yoga band waistbands, and short, 3/4 or long sleeve versions for the top. To access this pattern, you will need a Facebook account to be able to join the Sew a Little Seam Facebook group. Once you've done that,  you will find a code that will allow you to download this pattern from their site. 


(image source: Made by Jack's Mum)

sizes 6-12 months to 12 years

This pattern includes both boxer and brief styles and is for sale, but also available for free when you sign up to their news letter. This pattern might also work as swimwear if made in suitable fabric. 


(image source: Small Dreamfactory)

sizes approx. 9 months to 14 years

This is like an adorable kid's version of my free women's vest pattern! They recommend to use ribbing for the binding and straps, but I fancy trying it with some soft fold over elastic. I don't think the designer has intended this singlet exclusively for underwear/nightwear use, however it's style lends itself that way IMO. 


(image source: Treasurie)

sizes 2 to 14 years

If your child has a bikini top that still fits them but the bottoms have got too small, or they need some bottoms to go with a rash vest, then this looks like a fun, quick sewing project to take on. This pattern could probably also function as the basis for regular undies. I might test this theory and if I do, I'll report back...


(image source: Small Dreamfactory)

sizes approx. 3 to 16 years

I was recently given some small pieces of swimwear fabric and I am so excited to give this pattern a try! You could also add some ruffles to the front and/or back like Swiss army wife did here

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Lander Pants: 70s Style


Agh! My photographer (Mr SoZo) and I experienced a host of technical difficulties which has resulted in the colours in these photos being really weird. But, you know, when it takes as much luck and effort as it does to get a rare sunny day during the winter, clear sufficient space in the lounge and then placate the children long enough to take some photos, there's no way I'm going to retake them! Hopefully I'll get some more accurate pictures of these trousers during Me-Made-May later this year. 


70s style denim flared trousers are a real dream sewing project of mine. Until last year, I had a thrifted pair somewhat similar to these that were originally from Topshop. I wore them fairly regularly (pregnancies and weight fluctuation sometimes getting in the way) for about six years. Then, one day, I looked at my back view in the mirror. Oh bejeezus did they fit me badly around the bum! Even though they still felt comfy and were fine from the front, I just couldn't un-see what I had seen; the bubble was burst. Off they went to the charity shop. Ever since then, I have been plotting and scheming to make myself some replacement 70s style denim flares. 

(image source: Fabric Godmother)

Fabric: 

So what was the impetus to finally get to making these now? Well, my dream fabric landed in my lap. Well, not literally. It actually landed on a shelf at my fave fabric purveyor, Fabric Godmother. I have a very soft spot for denim in general, but this, THIS, is my one true love: broken twill denim. Seriously, I considered abusing my savings and buying the whole bolt. If you're not sure what broken twill denim is, basically, it's this: instead of the distinctive diagonal twill weave of regular denim, broken twill weave looks like zigzags (see below). Wrangler used broken twill denim a lot in the 70s, and many moons ago I found an amazing pair of vintage Wrangler jeans in a charity shop that I made into a denim mini skirt. I wore the living shizzle out of that skirt, and now that I think about it, I was wearing that skirt when I met Mr SoZo nearly eleven years ago! I digress...

(image source: Indiamart)

This broken twill denim that Fabric Godmother is currently stocking is a lovely mid-blue (in reality a bit darker than the pics of my denim trousers). It's 100% cotton and a medium-to-heavy weight, so suitably sturdy for the Lander pants pattern I planned to use. 

Pattern:

Of course, I am not the first to either make the True Bias Lander pants in denim, or to acknowledge this pattern's potential for realising your 70s denim flares fantasy. However, I did spend a sizeable amount of time researching 70s jeans pocket shapes and drafting what looked right to me (oh, and even longer positioning and repositioning them endlessly during construction!).  


This wasn't my first dalliance with the Lander pants pattern. Last year I made a very successful wearable toile of the shorts version. I spent a lot of time tweaking the pattern but used some random olive green twill in my stash that I wasn't mad about, so I really wasn't expecting to love or wear them as much as I did. 

What you won't have seen on any of my sosh medias is my second stab at this pattern. I had such high hopes for it, but the result was a massive pile of meh. I made the full length version in some navy suiting from my stash with metal buttons with little anchors on for the fly. I used the pattern's original front and back pockets, but rounded the corners for a slightly different take. Sounds alright, no? They weren't. The end result was so blah: disappointment levels were high. I forced myself to wear them a couple of times on the school run to see if I could warm to them, but no. I think the over arching problem lay with the fabric: they looked too office-wear, not cute naval officer as I'd hoped. And my doctoring of the pocket shapes hadn't been jazzy enough to elevate them. However, what they did teach me was that I could use a couple of additional tweaks to the pattern before embarking on another attempt.


The navy suiting pair taught me that I might have been a bit over zealous with my previous curving of the originally-straight waistband. I'd also been too heavy-handed by pinching out far too much from the back waist darts in my attempt to eliminate any sway back gaping. Somehow, the over-correction of these issues weren't really visible in my shorts version, but they became apparent in the full-length version. I sorted out those alterations before cutting into this beloved denim, and I feel that readdressing both was time well spent. 

Thoughts:

I love these trousers so much, and I'm so excited to see the denim age with wear and laundering. The fit is great and I've already worn them heaps. The higher waist of this pattern means that these work well with some of the garments, and in some outfit combos, that my low-rise Ginger jeans don't work so well with. And as the weather warms up, it'll be fun to discover new outfits to wear them in.   


If I were being hyper critical, I would point to two 'flaws'. You can't see the first here, but since these pics were taken, the buttons have shifted to the very edge of their buttonholes, resulting in a 1cm strip of the fly piece below now becoming visible. I thought I had positioned the buttons with due care, but I'm wondering if using a keyhole rather than regular buttonhole setting has contributed to this. Seriously though, I'm well aware that no one else in the world, aside from serious sewing nazis, would probably notice it.  

The second point that gives me slight pause is in regard to the fit through the leg. A lot of the vintage jeans I found images of were more fitted through the thigh, and flared out more from the knee. The Landers are fitted around the waist and hips and the leg shape is straight from the top of the thigh down to the ankle, which gives the illusion of a gradual flare starting at the top of the leg. This distinction is why I'd refer to these as denim trousers, rather than jeans. Someday I might scratch that itch with the Closet Case Patterns Ginger flared jeans expansion pack, but in the meantime, I'm sure I'll get much wear and joy from these. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Matilda Leggings


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

So today's free pattern comes shrouded in mystery! Signs indicate that the Matilda leggings pattern used to be part of a range called 'Sew Loft Patterns', which later morphed into 'Spit-up and Stilettos'. It seems that any sites relating to either have been taken down, hence no links. Apparently the designer, a women named Lauren, is now creating children's patterns which can be found here. And for reasons I don't entirely understand, another blogger (that isn't Lauren) is hosting all the patterns via Dropbox, making them accessible to anyone for free. I'm grateful to all concerned for providing access to these patterns. 


Pattern type:

It's worth pointing out that there are numerous free, women's leggings patterns out there, many of which look a lot like this one. I chose to make the Matilda leggings pattern because, A) I already had it downloaded, and B), the waistband is formed from a tube of the main fabric and does not involve elastic (i.e. comfort to the power of 10). I've been on the look out for a comfy, super-basic, leggings pattern because a friend recently asked me along to a yoga class, and not owning any leggings or other suitable alternative, I had to wear some hideous 'active wear' that I bought in the very early 2000s. So I was hoping that this pattern, which consists of only two pieces (waistband and legs) and includes cutting lines for capri and full length, might just fit the bill. 

Sizing info:


This pattern is graded from XS to XL (US 0-18), hips-wise it's 35"to 47". My measurements put me in the top end of the M and I'm generally very happy with the fit, although of course the stretchiness of your chosen fabric would have a massive effect on the fit of this garment. One sizing issue that's been mentioned by other sewers regarding this pattern, is that the full length version seem to come up a bit short. It is not indicated in the pattern what height they has been drafted for, however, I am 5ft 5"/165cm and I feel these could have done with being 4 or 5cm longer.


Fabric info:

The advice given is to 'find a knit fabric with good resistance that bounces back really well. Otherwise your leggings will start to look stretched out after the first few times you’ve worn it. We suggest getting a knit with Lycra in it.' To that I'd add that your chosen fabric should have a good four-way stretch (i.e. make sure it stretches well when you pull it up and down as well as across), which is essential for successful leggings. Ask me how I know.

For this pair I used this black, cotton/spandex jersey from Girl Charlee UK. It's incredibly soft and was wonderful to cut and sew (minimal rolling edges!), however, in hindsight, I'd say it's a smidge thin for leggings and would be better suited to tops like the Agnes pattern or similar. My pair are a touch transparent when the fabric is stretched and the waistband tends to fold over whenever I bend forwards. However, if you're looking to make leggings that will be exclusively worn underneath dresses or skirts, this fabric might be your best bet afterall, possibly combined with something sturdier for the waistband.


Findings:

This was billed as a quick and easy pattern to make and they weren't wrong! Making a waistband from the fabric rather than faffing with any of the various methods of adding elastic really cut the construction time down a lot. I used my regular machine to hem the bottoms, and all the seams were done using my overlocker/serger. You could easily make the whole garment using a regular machine however, and if evidence of this were required, the step-by-step photos included in the instructions show the sample being made using a faux-overlocker stretch stitch on a regular machine. 

As I mentioned above, fabric selection is everything here so be sure to find a sturdy jersey knit with a decent elastane/spandex/lycra content. You might also want to consider lengthening the rise as they sit very low. This is somewhat exaggertaed on me as I am short-waisted (by natural waist is pretty high up my torso) but for my next version I intend to slash horizontally across the pattern piece half way down the rise and add a few cms of height. Also, I found that they didn't taper quite enough at the ankle, I pinched out a bit at the ankles of this pair, and I feel I could have done so even more. Oh, and do consider adding length at the hem if you're over 5ft 4" and making the full length version.


Customisation ideas:

  • You could draw some panel lines and trace the new pieces off, add seam allowance and make some colour/pattern blocking craziness.
  • Using a print for the legs and a solid for the waistband could give an interesting (but not too wild) effect.
That's all I've got today.

Would I make it again?


Yup. I feel those few changes listed above will get me the easy, comfy, basic leggings pattern I need to provide myself with some half-way decent exercise wear. 'Activewear' is not an area I've previously given any consideration, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled for suitable fabric candidates for another pair.





Saturday, 23 February 2019

So, I Was in The Guardian Talking About Sustainable Clothing...

(image credit: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian)

Earlier this week The Guardian newspaper published an article called 'Don't feed the monster!', which included some interviews with people who no longer buy new clothes by way of discussing approaches to dressing sustainably. I was lucky enough to be included in the article, in effect to represent the DIY facet of the topic. What 'sustainable clothing' actually is is complicated of course, and means different things to different people (if they've spent any time thinking about it in the first place!). But it's clear from all the stats that RTW, and the lower-end 'fast fashion' business model in particular, is incredibly damaging to the environment and the workers involved in its manufacture. So sustainable clothing is something that we all need to address and consider for ourselves.  

I am incredibly grateful to have been asked to contribute to this discussion on a broader platform than this blog and my Instagram account usually provides, and I'm so happy to have some new followers to both since the article's publication that are clearly the kind of people who consider sustainability important. I feel that some of what I was trying to get across in the interview ended up being a little disjointed, and I'd like to explain my stance more freely here.


(image credit: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian)

Firstly, I want to emphasise that I don't think that sewing your own clothing should necessarily be considered a sustainable option by default, and certainly is not as sustainable as sourcing all clothing secondhand. Even though I personally try to use secondhand fabric and thrifted garments as a starting point for some of my sewing projects rather than always buying new fabric, I'm careful not to ignore the fact that home sewing still produces a lot of waste and uses a lot of resources. And I doubt that any fast-fashion garment workers working in unpleasant and dangerous conditions for barely any money would thank me for opting out of buying mass-produced clothing completely. 

Yet I do think that, as far as environmental impact goes at least, home sewing can be more sustainable than buying RTW. All the choices that sewing your own garments requires you to make (are you starting with a sewing pattern, which version, any changes to the design or fit, what type and colour of fabric, what buttons/notions blah blah blah...) means you can't help but end up with an item that is uniquely yours: that becomes an investment of self. And the more you learn about your own style, preferences and lifestyle requirements, and the better you get at altering and fitting garments to your own body, the more likely you are to end up with a garment that is entirely custom to you and you have deep investment in. Theoretically, most home sewn garments, if created with care and thought, should get countless more wears than the average fast-fashion item. Which is four, out of interested. 

(image credit: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian)

A year and a half ago, I wrote this post about how we can be more sustainable in our home sewing, and I'm sure this is something that I will continue to think and write about going forwards. Of course, one way you can make sure you're getting the most out of your existing selection of home made garments, and learn lots of useful lessons to help make your future projects as successful as possible, is to challenge yourself during this year's Me-Made-May! If you have any thoughts or feelings about dressing sustainably, or more sustainably to be accurate, in relation to handmade clothing or more generally, I'd LOVE to read them so please leave a comment below or hit me up on IG (@sozoblog). 

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