Friday, 5 August 2022

Free Pattern Friday: Kid's Olli Shorts and Pants


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult'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. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

You know how sometimes I post about a free pattern that I road tested years ago, but have come back to because they're great? Well, you know that those patterns are definitely worth taking note of! Today's post is about one of those. I originally posted about Misusu Pattern's Olli shorts and pants pattern three years ago, when my sweet little boy was just two years old. Today he's five, still incredibly sweet, and in need of new shorts. Now he fits into the biggest size this pattern comes in, so it's basically my last chance to sew up and enjoy this excellent free pattern. I've used a number of their patterns, both free and paid-for, and they've all been a real joy to use and dress my kids in. Thanks very much to Misusu Patterns for sharing their hard work for free with this one. To get this pattern for free, you will need to join the Misusu Patterns Sew & Tell Facebook group to access a link that will automatically add the freebie discount code at check out. This pattern is also available to purchase on their site


(image source: Misusu Patterns)

Pattern type: 

The Olli shorts and pants/trousers patterns have a modern, baggy look and feature big side pockets and interesting panels. Pattern pieces for bow or buckle strap details are included, plus there are squillions of ways you can monkey with this pattern to create different looks. 

Sizing info: 

This pattern is graded for sizes 62 to 116, which refers to the child's height in centimetres, and roughly equates to ages 0 - 3 months to 5 - 6 years. I would DEFINITELY recommend going by height and waist measurements rather than age with this pattern. Going by height on both the occasions I made this pattern I ended up making a size smaller than Frankie's actual age, and the fit has worked out really well. 




Fabric info:

This pattern is designed for wovens, and includes cotton, double gauze, flannel, denim, ribcord (needlecord?) and linen as suggestions. This pattern is excellent for scrap-and-small-piece busting. The various panels that make up these shorts means that you can cut the pieces from weird-shaped offcuts from previous projects, or even pieced together from a mix of fabrics that are different colours or prints, but have a similar weight. 
I'd LOVE to make some from African wax fabric, perhaps mixing up scraps of different print designs. 

This pair photographed in this post are made using a small length of quilting cotton. I didn't have enough to concern myself with print placement particularly. The previous pair I made him using cotton/linen mix worked really well, but the black stretch denim version was a tiny bit on the thickness side. Those previous two pairs got use from another child after Frankie though. 

Findings:

This Olli pattern is a really good advert for Misusu patterns. The instructions are so clear and well illustrated, and all the pieces come together flawlessly with everything matching up as it should. I love the look and fit of the finished garments, and it's wonderful to have a pattern that can be squeezed out of leftovers and remnants that you may already own. The basic pattern itself is interesting enough that a fantastic result can be achieved without needing to add anything. However, you can also get super creative and have a lot of fun dreaming up a really unique garment. The gusset panel allows for a lot of movement which I think is really important for kid's clothes. 




Customisation ideas:

Rare is a pattern as customisable as this one! Here's some ideas:
  • Go crazy with your scraps and make a mash up of different prints for each of the panels
  • Alternatively, play around with colour blocking by using two or more solids fabrics
  • Monkey with the rules and ignore the grainlines to make interesting effects using striped, checked or printed fabrics. I'd love to do this with needlecord
  • Add single or double rows of visible, contrast topstitching. 
  • Insert piping, braid, ric-rac or pom-pom trim into the vertical seams
  • Apply braid, ric-rac, lace etc at the back of the top edge of the pocket piece so it peeks out from behind, or stitch it across below the opening of the pocket piece.
  • Add a button and buttonhole or snaps to each pocket so they can be closed up
  • Stitch on ready-made patches, or insert labels or tabs into the seam like I did with this 'Yo Mama Made It' Kylie and the Machine label (pictured above). 
  • Shorten the pants version to 3/4 or 7/8 lengths for capri or clam digger styles. 

Would I make it again?

I can't remember if I used the 4-5 or 5-6 size for the anchor pair, however I'm pretty sure he'll get another summer's worth of wear after this one from these so it'll definitely be worth it to make another pair. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for leftovers from my forthcoming adult garment projects. 



Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Hula Leftovers Marcel Top

 

Honestly, I don't know exactly when I made this top, but I know it's taken me at least 18 months to get some photos of it. I haven't worn it much either, probably because it doesn't usually feel very tropical here in the UK, plus we haven't been abroad for three years. However, in advance of our trip to Italy next week during which I predict I'll wear this a lot, I thought I'd share this project. 




I also want to highlight a sewing pattern that is a great potential scrap buster. I had some weird-shaped leftovers of Hula viscose crepe from my Helios dress. The tank top view of Chalk and Notch's Marcel pattern was a great basis for making a casual, hot-weather top from those leftovers. It's formed from panels, although this busy fabric print obscures the seam lines so it's hard to tell. The volume is created by gathers into the front and back yoke, and this, combined with the flow-y nature of the fabric, will hopefully make it a breezy top to weather in the hot, Italian summer. 




I love how making your own clothes means you can customise details you might otherwise not think to alter on a RTW garment. I have one shoulder lower than the other. This means that one of the straps of shop-bought clothing (and a few handmade ones also before I realised this about myself!) would repeatedly, and annoyingly, slide off my shoulder. To correct this, I made one of the straps considerably shorter than the other. I also took care to fix the strap to the back yoke to follow my bra strap position to provide almost-complete bra coverage. 

This project might also look cool using different scraps of viscose for each of the pieces and panels. 

Friday, 1 July 2022

Free Pattern Friday: Full Moon Bag


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult'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. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

(image source: All Well Workshop)

I first heard about the Full Moon bag pattern(s) by All Well Workshop through a conversation I was having on Instagram with someone about teaching kids to sew. Sadly I can't remember who it was with, but the person was saying that they used the pattern as the basis for a sewing party for their child's birthday. Impressively, they had borrowed a bunch of sewing machines and managed to get a group of kids through the steps to make their own versions. When I checked out the pattern for myself, I really loved it, and quickly convinced myself to make one as an alternative to my ropey ol' backpack. I felt it was the ideal basis for using up some scraps and I imagined that I'd use it for travels and days out when I didn't need to carry much. Unfortunately, I've got so used to carrying my water bottle everywhere that it hasn't proved quite as useful as I'd predicted. So it's become the bag I take with me when I go for a drink because that's basically the only time I don't bother to take my water bottle with me! Anyway, the lovely little bag pattern comes in two sizes, and can be accessed for free when you sign up to the All Well newsletter. 



Pattern type:

The Full Moon bag pattern is a simple, circular shoulder bag that comes in two sizes. Both feature zip closures and interior and exterior pockets. Instructions for applying a leather strap or making fabric ones are included. 


Sizing info:

The smaller is 6.5" across, ideal for travelling (very) light and for kids. The larger is 9" across.




Fabric info:

The pattern advises using canvas type fabrics around 10oz-12oz in weight. I used scraps of rust denim and striped cotton twill, and I think interfaced the base and zip shield pieces to help them keep their shape better. Like a number of other people who shared their versions on Instagram, I also decided to adapt the construction to add a lining. For that I used some scraps of fawn coloured linen that worked tonally with the rust denim. 


Findings:

This was a really fun little project and a great opportunity to use some fabric leftovers. The pattern is well drafted with both A4 home printing and A0 copy shop file options. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, making this very much a beginner-friendly option. The only real challenges are handling layers of thick fabrics and making/applying the binding to finish the raw edges inside. This would be a wonderful project for making speedy gifts for adults and kids. 



Customisation ideas:

  • Add a lining! This was very easy to do and gives body to the bag and a more finessed finish. 
  • Use zips to make the external or internal pocket more secure.
  • Use sliders and rectangular D-rings to make the strap adjustable.
  • Insert piping into the seam around the edge of the bag for a professional look and give more stability to the circle shape. 

Would I make it again?

I'll most likely use this pattern to make one for my daughter, or as a gift for a friend. It's such a cute style and genuinely useful scrap buster. 

Monday, 27 June 2022

Leopard Print Bikini


I'm going to make this a speedy post but I wanted to share a recent make. I'm lucky enough to have a holiday to Italy booked for later this summer and the accommodation we'll be staying in has access to a swimming pool. I decided to continue my exploration into swimwear making and make this, my second two piece set. It also gave me the opportunity to finally use this piece of leopard print swimwear Lycra that's been in my stash for over ten years! 

 

Patterns:

A few months ago I made the Vernazza two piece pattern by Friday Pattern Company, proof of which you can see on my Instagram account here. It came out far better than I expected, particularly the bottoms, which I combined sizes to make. I traced the size M for the main part and graded up to the size L for the waistline and the fit is pretty much spot on. Therefore I went straight for the same pattern for this version, the only difference being that I inserted elastic into the waistband to make them feel more secure. 

The top half is made using the Helen's Closet Sandpiper swimsuit pattern. I received this pattern for free sometime ago, and hadn't initially considered it one I'd be likely to make. But the relative simplicity of the style appealed and I felt it would be a good canvas for this fun print. I initially attempted a wearable toile of the pattern using some solid black swimwear Lycra, thinking if it worked I could then make the leopard version and have some mix and match pieces. Sadly that wasn't the case as my first version came out too tight. I guess that there must be a lot of variation in the stretch and recovery of different swimwear fabrics, and although I measured myself carefully, the size my measurements corresponded to was just too small. 

So for this version, I recut the pattern for the next size up AND added some additional length to the elastic that is enclosed in the armholes and neck hole. It worked well and this version looks and feel much better, although I don't feel super secure at the bottom edge to I might insert some elastic into the bottom band at some point. 



Fabric:

As I mentioned above, I've had this length of swimsuit fabric in my stash for an embarrassingly long time. It's survived a number of destashes over the years because I always knew I'd get stuck into making swimwear at some point. Both halves of this bikini are lined with basic, black, swimwear/dancewear lining fabric that I bought on eBay. 



Thoughts:

Unsurprisingly, I'm excited to try this bikini out when I go on holiday! I'm also committed to try swimming in the sea here in the UK this year, which is something I don't remember ever doing, despite living close to the seaside almost my entire life. 

Friday, 3 June 2022

Free Pattern Friday: Kid's Woodstock Swing Tee (PLUS 2 X Dress Hacks)


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult'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. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

The free pattern I'm posting about today is a revisit. I first posted about Hey June Handmade's Free Woodstock Swing Tee pattern two years ago. I'm posting about it again because A) the fact that I've used it again means it's an evergreen pattern that's worth downloading, and B) I've hacked the pattern to make two different styles of dress, making it even more useful. Thanks so much to Hey June for sharing this pattern for free. 


Pattern type: 

As the website says: 'The Woodstock Swing Tee is a casual trapeze-hem top for Juniors.  It features a wider neckline and short cap sleeves as well as a slight high-low hemline.' My daughter has worn her previous version many, many times in the last two years (yes, it's still fits, just about...) because it's such an easy, breezy style. 

(image source: Hey June Handmade)

Sizing info:

I love that the Woodstock Swing tee is graded form 6 years all the way up to 16 years. Plus, I think it's a style that would look good on both a 6 year old AND a 16 year old, opposed to looking too grown up for a 6 year old, or too childish for a teenager. The sizing goes up in twos, so ages/sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 are included. My earlier versions shows me that the sizing is spot on, if slightly small. For my now-8yo (although is 135cm in height and definitely closer to a 9-10 in clothing sizes), I cut out the size 10 pattern and the fit is excellent. 



Fabric info:

Designed for knits with at least 30% stretch, I would go a step further and suggest that it is most suitable for lighter weight jerseys that drape well. The black T-shirt is made using an old slinky top of mine that had become too tight in the sleeves. The nautical dress that she uses as a nightdress was made using an old dress of mine that I used to wear when pregnant with her, and the faces print dress is made using a remnant of viscose jersey crepe. 



Findings:

This pattern was really enjoyable to use. Accessing it through the Hey June Handmade online shop was easy, and the pattern is very professionally produced. The instructions and pattern pages are all in one PDF, and the pattern pages span ten sheets. Allegedly this pattern features the layers function, which allows you to save printer ink by only printing the size/s you need, but for some reason I couldn't get that option to work for me on this pattern. It also includes an A0/copyshop file version if you don't have access to a home printer, or you fancy sticking all those pages together. 

The instructions are clear and simple with each step demonstrated with an illustration. As with most free sewing patterns, I'd say this one is beginner friendly, and an enjoyably speedy make for more experienced sewers. You could easily whip up one of these the evening before going on holiday for example, without breaking into much of a sweat. 

I'm really pleased that I was able to make these super useful garments from clothes that I no longer wear, and the awesome remnant that's been sitting in my stash for yonks. All three items pictured in this post have been worn multiple times since their completion, and we're only at the very beginning of the summer. 



Customisation ideas:

As you can see, I hacked this pattern to make two different styles of dress. For the nautical print nightdress, I simply extended the side seams as long and as wide as the original garment allowed. For the gathered skirt dress, I folded the bodice pieces up so the waist seam would land around her natural waist, folded back the sides to create straight side seams (see picture below). I was working with very limited fabric so the skirt was formed from the widest and deepest rectangle my remnant would allow. 



Important note: if you're making a gathered skirt dress like this, add elastic into the waist seam to stop the waist line stretching out with the weight of the skirt. Cut the elastic ever so slightly shorter than the waist seam of the bodice. I zigzagged the elastic along the bottom edge of the bodice before attaching the skirt. 

More customisation ideas for this pattern that I'm stealing from my former self:

  • Use another slim-fit knit pattern with a long sleeve (like the Ester & Ebbe top pattern by Thread by Caroline perhaps) to make this into a long-sleeved top pattern also.
  • Add a ruffle around the hem, possible shortening it also so the final length remains similar to the original.
  • Add a ruffle into the sleeve seams (again, like the Ester & Ebbe top pattern perhaps). 
  • Add a patch pocket on the chest
  • Apply decals, screen prints or appliques to the front.
  • Create seam lines within the front and back pieces to create even more scrap-busting and colour-blocking opportunities. 
  • A tiered dress.



Would I make it again?

Most definitely! As I say, I'd like to try another dress hack, this time with a tiered skirt, possibly made of remnants and scraps like the one at the bottom of this post

Monday, 30 May 2022

FREE Resource: The Me-Made-May and Beyond Worksheet

 


Today is the penultimate day of this year's Me-Made-May challenge! If you've read this blog for years or you've heard Episode #36 of my podcast Check Your Thread, you will recall that Me-Made-May is the wardrobe challenge I inadvertently created thirteen years ago. Its purpose is to help participants improve their relationship with their handmade wardrobe, and learn lessons that they can apply to future projects. If you have been challenging yourself this year, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I hope you've had a wonderful, fun and insightful month.


I haven’t in previous years talked much about what next after Me-Made-May. I guess I always thought that everyone would have different takeaways because everyone’s pledge and challenge was different. However, after reading heaps of people’s Instagram posts about the challenge during this month, I think that there are a lot of experiences, lessons and takeaways that are fairly universal and common to most participants. I realised that there must be a way that I can help people drill down on what it all means for THEM. 


And after some chats and some brainstorming last week, I came up with an idea. And that idea has become a free downloadable resource for participants of MMM. Its purpose is to help us participants gain insights from our MMM experiences and capture the lessons we’ve learnt. It’s called the Me-Made-May and Beyond worksheet.


So here’s how you can get hold of it: sign up to the CYT newsletter from 30th May and the end of June and a download link will be sent to your inbox. To sign up to the newsletter, head to checkyourthread.com and scroll to the bottom of the page. Existing subscribers to the newsletter will have had the link sent to them automatically already. 


So get the download, have a go at the worksheet, then please let me know what you think! Email me at sozoblog (at) g mail dot com, or find me on Instagram @sozoblog or @checkyourthread.


Sunday, 15 May 2022

Leopard Print Ginger Jeans and a Realisation

It's slowly been dawning on me that I can't really wear the style of jeans that I prefer, and also feel comfortable AND have them stay on my body properly. And honestly, I think this has always been the case. What I mean by this is that, the slim/skinny legged jeans with a low-rise, hipster waistline which I love the look of just don't work for my body. I've always had a bit of a tum, even when I was in my 20s and weighed the least in my adult life. I've always found the waistline of jeans cut in to my tum uncomfortably. I got so used to undoing the top button of my jeans each time I sat down after years of doing so, but I've grown tired of that now. 

Through the power of sewing my own clothes, I tried to solve the issue by grading between two different sizes for the waist and the hips-downwards. This has never worked well because they end up too loose at the waist and often slip down a bit. 

Having gone on a journey which resulted in my workwear denim Lander pants, I came to the realisation that I need extra space around my tum only, not all around the waist. The full-tummy adjustment I did on the Lander pants worked really well, and for the first time ever I have a pair of fly-front jeans that I can sit down in without needing to undo the button of. 

Naturally, I wondered if I could apply the same magic to a slim/skinny legged pattern, seeing as that is the type of jeans I wear most often. And what I then realised it that I don't think I can make that adjustment on a low- or even medium-rise style and expect them to stay up. 

So what I ended up doing for this project was to trace the high-rise version of the Closet Core Ginger jeans pattern (which I have previously made with low- and medium-rises) as my starting point. I already own a medium rise version which are still in action, so I was able to try those on with the button and fly undone which allowed me to assess how much addition width I'd need to properly accommodate my tum, AND where the additional width should land. As I've discovered through watching videos and reading posts about full-tummy adjustments, I knew I'd also need to add some additional height at the front. 

Because the Ginger jeans pattern calls for stretch denim, I decided not to add the entire additional width it would appear I required, because the stretch content might result in them becoming too accommodating and therefore not staying up!

As you can see from the side view (pictured above), the side seam is pretty much in the correct position: perpendicular to the ground. That's one of the main clues that tells me this adjustment worked. The other is that I can sit down without having to undo the button!!! Woo hoo!!!!

The fabric I used was a seconds/remnant from Fabric Godmother. It's a very soft stretch denim with this super-cute leopard print pattern. I like how the jeans look like pretty standard blue jeans from afar, but the little leopard print becomes visible when you look closer. It was a remnant because a fade mark had occurred along the folded edge when the fabric was on the bolt. I was easily able to avoid the fade mark when cutting out these jeans, however. 

Although I still don't love the look or feel of high-rise jeans, I do love generally how comfortable these jeans are. I can wear them all day without wanting to take them off the second I get home. And honestly I never wear my garments tucked into my jeans as I am in the photos: I did that to show the fit of this garment around the tummy. I forgot to take a photo of these jeans shown seated, but I'm wondering if this adjustment might be of particular use to some wheelchair users who would like to wear skinny jeans but find them uncomfortable around the waist. I'm pretty evangelical about this adjustment because I don't think it's one that many sewers know about. 

Now that I have this adjusted pattern, I plan to make a couple more pairs in different colours to flesh out my wardrobe a bit. Currently I own a few tops and blouses that I love and would pair well with skinny jeans, but don't look good with the two blue pairs I know own.  

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