Friday, October 25, 2013

KCW Fall 2013 :: Little Gentleman's Vest

A full Friday of sewing and photographing and its come time to do my wrap up of my efforts for Kids Clothes Week.

Mission ::
Make waistcoats for my two boys for upcoming family weddings and keep the project on a ridiculously small budget.

Pattern ::
A quick search on Etsy threw up a few pattern choices, one that caught my eye covered sizes for both my two year old and seven year old, plus it included a pattern for pants, so it was the stand out winner - the Little Gentleman's Pants and Vest pattern is available from the Peekaboo Pattern Shop for $8.50 (AUD). It's an instand download, print and stick job and it's beautifully easy to work from with detailed instructions. I used the 3T and 7 sizes.

Materials ::
This was the most time consuming part, a thorough search through my local fabric store saw me come away empty handed.  They simply don't sell suiting type fabrics, there probably isn't that much demand for them.  I wanted something (a) lightweight for wearing in the summer weather; (b) washable because it's kids wear after all; and (c) looked like a man's waistcoat.  Brainwave - head to the biggest second hand shop I know and search through the men's suits section.  I was initially going to buy a suit jacket until I realised that jackets have a lot of seams and tucks and pockets and linings so there isn't a whole lot of usable fabric in them. The suit pants were really the thing I need.  I steered clear of anything that looked too worn out and anything that was dry clean only....and for the grand price of $4 I found myself a large pair of polyester/viscose men's trousers, black with a fine white pin stripe - perfect!.  A quick wash and line dry and I was in business.

The choice of lining fabric also saw me spend about an hour in the fabric store.  I could have gone the way of the novelty lining, and this idea had merit for the fun factor and the vests could have been used in the dress up box after their official duties were done with, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I also shied away from a silky lining, in my head silky fabrics are hard to sew and easy to wreck and I didn't need the hassle.  In the end I chose a simple charcoal grey homespun cotton from the quilting section.

Construction ::
I laid out the pattern pieces on the trousers, I cut the smaller size 3T vest from the lower leg and the larger size 7 from the upper leg because naturally the trousers are wider at the top and the larger size pattern is also wider.

I cut both layers of the size 3T at once, carefully lining up the pattern with the pinstripes and making sure the reverse side was also a suitable fabric to pattern line up.  The upper section of the trousers had a lining in them so here I cut the trousers at the outer and inner seams and removed the lining fabric.  Then I cut the four pieces I needed individually.  More time consuming but I really needed those pinstripes going straight up and down the waistcoat and that was the only I could guarantee a great result.  (Note: the back pattern piece was supposed to be cut on the fold but as this wasn't possible I cut 1cm out from the pattern edge and sewed the two back pieces together with a 1cm seam allowance which gave me a perfect back piece, you can hardly tell!).

The pattern instructions are easy to follow and a chopstick to poke out those corners and an iron for pressing are definitely good helpers in getting a nice neat shape to the vest.  I was floundering around for buttons...

...when I realised the pants had the perfect buttons already on them.

Two from the back pockets and one from the fly were enough for the 3T vest and I bought a card of four buttons for $2.50 at the store for the size 7.

Mission accomplished? ::
Oh yes!

I costed up what a shirt and waistcoat would cost from the department store - $56 (not that I think it comes in a size small enough for my two year old).  The average cost of my waistcoats (pattern and materials) was $11.  Throw in a shirt from BigW for $15 and my ensemble is  $26 for each of the boys.

But the best bit?  They're super cute to boot!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kids clothes week :: some progress

Wow, what a week, I had considered pulling out of Kids Clothes Week due to a lack of time but a last minute reshuffle of some long weekend plans means time for sewing has fortuitously dropped into my lap. 

I have moved my sewing machine temporarily upstairs to the dining room table to speed things up.

I'm going to one big wrap up tomorrow of what I've been up to, for now here's a few teaser pictures of my progress so far - big size pants, button holes and fingers crossed a perfect fit.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Op shop blues

A trip to the op shop yesterday yielded a few surprises in blue.

Three metres of a navy blue linen with a very pleasing white print.  At 140cm wide there's plenty of fabric here to make another summer dress (I admit that this summer I am becoming rather addicted to dress wearing!)

And a rather lovely, if not a little chunky, Arabia Finland teacup sitting amongst the Christmas themed pottery.  It wasn't cheap by op shop standards though, I can tell you!  I have managed to track it down to being a Sinilintu (bluebird in Finnish) teacup from the mid-60s, and I did see one website that described it as a chocolate cup.  It really does look like something for a nice hot chocolate rather than tea, don't you think?  It seems to be quite a rare item so I wonder how much it's actually worth?  I guess I'll never know.  This folky design is so me but I won't be becoming a collector in a hurry or I'd break the bank.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kids Clothes Week

As a rather late decision I have signed up for kids clothes week next week.  

I wasn't going to as the kids don't really need much in the way of everyday clothes right now. We do however have a couple of weddings to attend in the near future and I realised they are coming up faster than I was thinking.  So I'm going to be making something very specific and different and give sewing some formal wear a go.  A little challenge to make the boys some matching waistcoats at least. I'm not sure how I'll go for pants but I really don't think there will be time in my week for those anyway.

These pics are a little flashback to 2010, my then 3.5 year old Alex at a wedding in Bulgaria.  So cute!  Unfortunately this outfit won't fit my youngest boy just yet so I hope I can do a really decent handmade version.  In this quest the internet is my friend, lots of inspiration on Pinterest and a few patterns that look good on Etsy.  I've already scouted out for some fabric but this will be the more difficult part as so far I have found nothing at all decent.  I have but a few days to come up with some solutions and it might have to involve the second hand shop.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Holiday pet

So often I sew for the children, but hardly ever with them.  Last week, at his request, my big boy and I sat down together with sewing materials and made a little pet.  

The kids often flip through my Softies book and fantasize that I might be able to make them one of every toy (yeah right!).  A quick and easy project was the pattern for Arno the cat, no enlarging the pattern or special techniques needed, just tracing, cutting, sewing and stuffing.

He picked out fabrics from my stash cupboard and felt box and helped me to pin down the pattern pieces and push in the stuffing.  Any actual sewing was left for me to do, I didn't mind at all though, it's been ages since I made a softie myself.  He was keen from start to finish and I was surprised at his colour co-ordination, picking a blue felt for the face and the orange thread for the stitching.

We had fun and the result was perfect for my boy who loves a pocket sized, palm sized toy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cloud washi dress

Technically this post belongs to Selfish Sewing week, but technically I started sewing this dress before the week started and technically I am writing a blog post about it in the week after.  And, if you are a regular reader you will, technically, have seen a few shots of this dress already - but I thought I would share the pictures my man took of me wearing it on our regular Sunday walk up the hill from our place to the local church.

This little church built in 1867 is a top a hill in Mitchelton and you get a view right over our local area all the way across to the skyscrapers of Brisbane city.  It's the halfway point on our walk it's here we catch the very last rays of the afternoon sun and re-set for the week ahead. We stop and sit on the benches in the cemetery and the kids have a run around on the lawn, then we walk the through-way between the properties down the the street above ours and wander our way around and along back to our house.  Just us four together, nowhere else to be and nothing else to do but just enjoy the walk, its a lovely family ritual - of course made all the nicer wearing a new summer dress you've just sewn up for yourself.

I think that's it for dress sewing for now, the pattern papers are folded away and the left over fabric is in the stash cupboard.  Although, I've got some shorts that need shortening for my littlest boy and the bigger boy wants to make a softie so I won't be away from my machine for long.


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