Friday 6 December 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Ester & Ebbe Top

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 into making kids' clothes, then you're in luck. I've got an awesome and very useful pattern to share with you today. We're talking a unisex pattern in a wide size range that's thoroughly customisable. AND it's available in Swedish as well as English. You're welcome! Obviously, full thanks should actually be extended to the generous designer: Threads by Caroline. If there's a scamp in your life that likes comfy clothes, do read on...

(image source: Threads by Caroline)

Pattern type: 

The Ester & Ebbe top/T-shirt pattern makes a great, basic, close-fitting, knit top. The side seams are straight (no shaping), the neckline is finished with a knit band. Two sleeve lengths are included as well as optional sleeve-head ruffle and patch pocket pieces. 

Sizing info: 

The pattern is graded between EU sizes 74 - 146, which equates to height in cms. This translates to approx. 9 months to 11 years. I've found the sizing to be spot on, aside from the length (more on that below in 'Findings').  

Fabric info: 

It is advised that knit fabrics with at least 30% stretch are used. With a close-fitting style such as this, ignoring that recommendation would probably result in an uncomfortable top that needs to be wrestled on and off! Caroline has helpfully included two neck band pattern pieces, depending on the amount of stretch your chosen fabric has, so you could go for a rib knit neckband if you wished without fear of a baggy neckline. Phew. 

For most of the versions I've made that you can see in this post, I used fairly light-weight jersey with elastane/Lycra/spandex content. The pink and red deer fabric used for the long-sleeved version made for a 6-year-old's birthday present (pictured above) doesn't include elastane, but I think the jersey had sufficient mechanical stretch to work ok. However I didn't trust the 100% cotton jersey for the neckband, which is why I went for a contrast effect using a jersey with elastane for that crucial piece.  

Dolores's stripy long-sleeved top (pictured above) started life as an adult's Boden top that my best friend no longer wanted (pictured below). The glittery lightning flash print was awesome, and I love how its scale is so massive on 6 year-old Dolores's top! I also used the Ester and Ebbe pattern to get me out of a minor parental emergency when it was announced that Dolores and her friend Samuel's class would all need to wear plain black tops for their school dance concert. Samuel's mum and I were determined not to promptly file into H&M or Primark like the other parents, so I volunteered to whip up two of the these tops from repurposed fabrics instead. Dolores's was cut from a previous adult-top-project-FAIL, and Samuel's was made from one of Zoe's old nightdresses and a bleach-stained old maternity dress! 


You can access the Ester & Ebbe top pattern by signing up for their (unobstrusive) newsletter in either English or Swedish. Both the top pattern and their free Vera skirt pattern will be emailed to you shortly after. Alternatively, you can access both patterns by signing up to their Facebook group, if FB is your jam (it is not my jam). Both patterns include print-at-home and copyshop files, plus the print-at-home version of the Ester & Ebbe includes the layers function, which stops you wasting ink by allowing you to print only the size(s) you require. Both the pattern files and instructions document are beautifully produced: it really feels like you're accessing a high quality product for free. 

I've made a fair few knit tops in my time by now, so I must admit that I didn't follow the instructions word for word, however they appeared very thorough and seem to give clear guidance for each construction step, including how to add the optional shoulder ruffles and chest pocket. I have yet to try out the shoulder ruffle style because I recently made a similar top also with a shoulder ruffle for Dolores and the jersey curled quite a lot, and I didn't trust any of these jerseys not to do the same. 

As for the garments themselves, I think the number I've made so far shows that I'm a big fan of the finished product. I love the skinny fit through the body and sleeves. The shoulders are quite narrow, which suits my little scamps but might be something to keep in mind if your child is a bit squarer. The first two I made were Dolores's long-sleeved, upcycled, lightning flash version, and Frankie's short-sleeved, black-and-white-with-lemon-pocket version. As you can see in the pictures of Frankie above and below, this pattern does come out pretty long (I may go back and shorten his before the summer), and I have removed 4 or 5 cms from the length for all subsequent versions. 

Customisation ideas:

Aside from the two sleeves lengths, shoulder ruffle and chest pocket options already included, you could get yet more mileage from this pattern by trying the following:

  • Add a gathered rectangle skirt at either the empire line, waistline or dropped-waist/hip line to make it into a dress. 
  • Try 3/4 sleeves, as per the bird box stencil version pictured below.
  • Make different patch pocket shapes, eg, hearts, animals, clouds and so on. A classic hoodie-style kangaroo pocket would also be cute.
  • Get seriously scrap-busty and use a different jersey for each pattern piece to make a crazy (or subtly tonal) patchwork-esque version.
  • Screen-prints, decals, patches, applique would all pack a punch this simple garment style. I plan to add a cute, shop-bought, unicorn patch to jazz up Dolores's aforementioned plain black version, now that her dance concert is over.

Would I make it again?

Yes. Clearly, yes. This has become a firm favourite, and I can't imagine needing another skinny-fit tee pattern until they have grown out of the largest size. Between this and the more boxy, oversized (also free) Rowan tee, I feel that basically all my kids' jersey top pattern needs are covered. 
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