Tuesday 23 July 2019

Denim Pinafore Cuteness

I've made Dolores a few garments in recent months that have not been well received. So annoying! Despite me running the garment concept by her first, by which I mean showing her the intended fabric and pattern, and her making subsequent positive sounds, she's then either down-graded the finished item to sleepwear, or flat out told me I can take it to a charity shop! (This dress is the most recent garment that she declared could be given away, although I'm hanging on to it and waiting to see if she'll warm to it when she grows a bit and the bodice fits her more closely.) 

I'm not sure if it's because the garments didn't end up looking like she pictured in her head, or that she was just being positive to make me happy when I first pitched her my plans. I've been careful not to let my frustration show, for fear of making the whole me-sewing-for-her thing emotionally charged in any way. Anyways, when she recently requested that I make her a specific garment, a denim pinafore like my denim leftovers Cleo, I was thrilled. I hoped that, if I stuck closely to her brief, I would be able to put some of my sewing time and energy into making her something that would definitely get some wear.


To fulfil the brief of child's denim pinafore, I bought the Freddie dungarees pattern by Two Stitches, which includes a pinafore version as well as the dungarees. I probably would have bought the Penny Pinny pattern by Made By Jack's Mum instead if I'd seen if before I'd bought the Freddie pattern, as it's closer in appearance to my Cleo. However, at least I now have the dungarees version of the Freddie pattern as well, that I could use for either of my kids in the future.  

(image source: Two Stitches Patterns)

The paper version of this pattern takes the form of a cute little booklet with stitched-in instruction pages, and a section where the folded pattern sheets can be tucked away. The booklet includes a page where you can add your own notes, which was useful because I found quite a few things whilst I used this pattern worthy of note. Generally speaking, this pattern was very pleasant to use, however I have one massive gripe which is the tiny seam allowance. I'd be cool with a 6mm seam allowance on a knit project, however on a woven garment like this that has lined section and parts that require turning through, it felt just too small. I wish I'd noticed this before I cut out my traced-off pieces, otherwise I would have added extra to make them 1cm or 1.5cm instead. 

I had a couple of other minor issues with this pattern that may or may not be worth mentioning: a flaw in the cutting guide/lay plan, plus no indication of how far from the edges to stitch the rows o topstitching. Previous experience of making adult-sized denim pinafores and dungarees lead me to make a couple of other additions/changes. I felt the addition of interfacing was necessary on the button plackets and on the inside of the front bib around the areas where the buttons would be applied. The jeans buttons that I intended to use get subjected to quite a bit of tugging, so I wanted those areas stabilised. I changed the method of construction for the straps, plus I made the straps narrower so they would fit the buckles without having to be scrunched up like the sample pictured on their website. I also added topstitching on the straps, and stitched through the elastic at the back to make gathering sit evenly. 


Aside from the additional dungarees view that's included, the other thing the Freddie pattern has over the Penny Pinny pattern is that it is comprised of lots of pieces and panels. On one hand, that made it more time consuming to trace and cut out, but on the other, it allowed me squeeze this pinafore from fabric harvested from a failed garment project. About four or five years ago, I got a length of bark weave stretch denim from Fabric Godmother that I attempted to make into some cigarette trousers using a pattern from the Gertie Sews Vintage Casual book. That project was a total bust. I lacked any knowledge of trouser fitting at that time, but even with both my mum and the Pants for Real People fitting book at my side for help and advice, we just could not work out how to improve the monstrosity that I was attempting to fit to my body. In the end, I just abandoned that project (and trouser making generally for a number of years). I'm so glad that I kept that fail though, as it was the perfect weight of denim for this project. The slight stretch content is going to make it extra comfy to move around in, plus I'm excited to see how the denim fades after a few washes. 

The fabric I used for the lining was also from my stash. This ditsy faux-liberty cotton lawn has been hanging out in there for years (I used some of it for this blouse, among other projects). After this pinafore project, I used the very last of it up by making a couple of hankies for a friend. 


Aside choosing to make deviations on the fly here and there, this was a very satisfying project. You know me, I loves me some topstitching. I'm still questioning if another pattern would have given more a smoother ride and a better finished item, but generally I'm really happy with how it turned out. In addition to the points I made above, I'm not sure that I'd line all the pockets next time. You don't really get to enjoy the floral fabric when using the pockets, and I kind of dislike the flashes of contrast that you get round the edges of the pocket (despite me cutting the pocket linings slightly smaller that the outer pocket pieces to avoid that happening). I'm not entirely sure what the point of the elastic at the back is either, maybe it makes more sense for the dungarees version. If I use this pattern again, I probably won't bother with the elastic in the back, as I just don't feel the fabric really needs 'controlling' back there. Speaking of fabric, I am thrilled from both a financial AND a sustainability angle that I was able to stash-and-scrap bust this whole project. 

But my thoughts on this garment don't really matter, do they? What DOES matter, is that Dolores seems to have embraced this pinafore (phew)! She wore it shortly after its completion when we went to visit some friends in London, and she looked so cute in her mini-me look. The weather has got super hot lately, so I don't expect to see her in it again for a while, but I hope she embraces it again, and can be encouraged to wear it with long-sleeved t-shirts and knitwear underneath when the weather cools back down. 

Friday 12 July 2019

Turquoise Ginger Jeans: Lounge Camouflage

It wasn't until I came to resize these images, that I realised just how similar my new jeans are to the colour of our lounge wall! However, this is the only decent spot in our flat for taking photos, plus if you'd seen how many toys I had to clear out of the way to get these pics, you'd understand why I'm not going to re-shoot them. 


Maybes you remember my first crack at the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern? Well those have been worn sooooo often, that I knew another pair would be in the pipeline before long. What I have found with my first pair though, is that the low-rise option (view A) really is low. I wouldn't feel decent wearing them without a vest (AKA camisole/singlet) tucked in to them, especially if I planned to sit or bend down. That's fine for the three quarters of the year during which I wear vests, however I wanted my second pair to have year-round wearability. My feeling was that the high-rise option (view B) of the original Ginger jeans pattern would have been too high for me, and I considered buying the mid-rise version until my friend Paula told me that Closet Case had generously published a blog post with a tutorial for drafting your own mid-rise version. Let's do this!

Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern // Technical flats // Closet Case Patterns
(image source: Closet Case Patterns)

To draft a mid-rise pair, it is suggested that you start with the original high-rise option (view B), as the proportions of the pockets and such are more suitable. I chose to make the rise exactly in between the views A and B. I took some additional body measurements to find out what I measured around the waistband of my view A pair, and what I measured around where I intended my new waistband line would be. That different of measurements was very useful when following the steps in the post. I should point out that Closet Case's tutorial doesn't include shortening the fly piece, which does need to be done. 

I'm not the first to say that each time you make the Ginger jeans, or any pattern that uses a fabric with some stretch content, it's important to have a mid-way fitting sesh. Even if the fit on your last pair was perfect, each stretch denim will have slightly different properties so can't assume your next pair will also be spot on. I was relieved that, after all that pattern tweaking and the different denim, the fit of my second pair before I attached the waistband was great. After I tacked the waistband on, I tried them on again, but found them too tight at the waist, so I unpicked and reapplied the waistband,  easing in some extra length. 

One fitting note that I didn't discover until they were all finished and being worn, is that I think they are too wide around the ankle. You can see it pretty clearly in these pics. At the moment the weather is pretty warm, so I'm wearing them with the hems rolled up a bit. However, when it cools off and I want to cover my ankles up again, I'll unpick the hem and take some of that width out from the side seam. 

For the topstitching on the back pocket, I used one of the downloadable designs that you can access from the Closet Case Patterns site when you sign up for their newsletter. I transferred the design to the pocket pieces using white carbon paper and a tracing wheel, and I'm soooo happy with how they came out. I would definitely recommend the designs that use straight rather than curved lines for getting a clean result.  

Fabric and Interfacing: 

If you recognised that this turquoise denim was one of the nine pieces of stash fabric I pledged to use up in my #2019makenine plans, then you get a million points. This project is my fourth completed project for that challenge, although a lot more sewing has been happening that aren't part of those make nine plans. This fabric is some turquoise-y stretch denim that I bought from Fabric Godmother a few years ago. Since buying it, I'd fallen out of love with it, but now that it's made up into a garment that feels good to wear, I'm a fan again. The elastane/Lycra content must be pretty high, because it has a kind of synthetic-y sheen, but because of that content, it feels like I'm basically wearing leggings rather than jeans. 

I had a long debate with myself about what to use for the facing and interfacing for the waistband. Feeling comfortable, particularly round my waist is of MASSIVE importance to me, and can totally dictate whether or not a garment I've made ever gets worn. I can't remember if I used interfacing on the waistband of my first pair of Gingers, however I used a non-stretch woven cotton for the waistband facing, so that waistband basically has no give. However, due to the fact that that pair sits so low, I still find them comfortable to wear, as long as I have a belt to stop them heading south.   

But because this second pair were going to be sitting higher up, closer to my natural waistline, I wanted to ensure more give so that I wouldn't feel constricted. I decided to use the same stretch denim to face the waistband, plus I applied fusible interfacing for knits to the waistband piece itself. The result is a pleasingly stretchy waistband that definitely does not feel constricting. Howevs.... they do start to migrate down a bit whilst they are being worn. I'm wearing a belt with them to counteract this, which slightly nullifies the point of a stretchy waistband. Any thoughts?!

Oh but wait! Did you see my pocket bags?! I got to use up an awesome remnant of quilting cotton that I'd bought from Ditto in Brighton yonks ago. It's got a cute 1950s kitchen print which is kind of at odds with a pair of turquoise skinny jeans, but I think that makes me like the combo even more. 


You've probably already gathered that I'm really into this me-made! I promise to dig deep and sort out the excess width around the ankles so that I'll like them even more. I find jeans making sooooo satisfying. This year's Me-Made-May challenge taught me that a pair of black skinny jeans would be a useful addition to my wardrobe. So when Autumn hits, I'll keep my eyes peeled for some great black stretch denim and use this pattern exactly as it is for those. 

Friday 5 July 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' 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 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.

If you're looking for a summer shorts pattern for younger kids that's more interesting than your standard basic shorts pattern, then if you haven't already, you're going to want to check out about the Olli patternMisusu Patterns have a very generous selection of free sewing patterns in their range, and after a very pleasant experience trying their free Rowan tee pattern, I was very excited to download this one also. To obtain this pattern for free, you will need to join their Facebook group, Misusu Patterns Sew & Tell, to access a code that you can then use at the checkout. Thanks Elles for offering this pattern up for free. 

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. 

Olli Shorts & Pants PDF Sewing Pattern 
(image source: Misusu Patterns)

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 rather than age with this pattern. After checking his height, I ended up making a size smaller than Frankie's actual age, and the fit has worked out really well. It might not be such an issue if you live somewhere that is hot for a large portion of the year, as shorts that turn out a bit big will get worn in due course. But where we live, the shorts-wearing window of time is limited to a few months, so I really wanted to make sure I was making a garment that he could wear, like, now.

Fabric info:

This pattern is designed for wovens, and includes cotton, double gauze, flannel, denim, ribcord (needlecord?) and linen as suggestions. Let it be known that this pattern is excellent for scrap-and-small-piece busting. Frankie needed plain-ish bottoms to go with some jazzier tops, so I used leftovers of army green cotton/linen mix from my Burnside bibs, and some black stretch denim leftover from some jeggings. 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. The versions I've made here are a little dull, but you could really go to town with the prints if you so wished. I'd LOVE to make some from African wax fabric, perhaps mixing up scraps of different print designs.  


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 Olli shorts and pants are clearly designed to be unisex garments, and initially I printed out two copies in different sizes (this PDF pattern has the layers function), one for Frankie and one for Dolores. However, after making Frankie's, I decided not to use this pattern for Dolores because she's annoyingly, stereotypically gender-minded when it comes to the fit of her clothing, and I know that sadly she wouldn't want to wear a pair of shorts with a baggy fit such as these at this point in time. 

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. I used regular sew-all thread on the army green pair because I wanted a subtle look, but you could use upholstery or full on topstitching threads for a bolder effect
  • 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 the pocket piece just below the top edge like on Frankie's black pair
  • Add a button and buttonhole to each pocket so they can be closed up
  • Stitch on ready-made patches, or make your own like I did on the army green pair by using a section of woven ribbon with a cute motif
  • Shorten the pants version to 3/4 or 7/8 lengths for capri or clam digger styles. 

Would I make it again?

A number of months passed between making these two versions, so technically I have already made this pattern again! But I definitely see more versions in the future. I may prep the next size up to have on hand so if I have any suitable leftovers from future projects, I can cut some pairs out in advance of next summer. 
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