Saturday, October 26, 2013

Disappointed: Review of Ottobre "Forest Path" Pants, #19, 4/2012

Every now and then, I am disappointed by the fit of an Ottobre Design pattern.  Usually, the problem occurs in the waist or the rise.  For the longest time, I was altering patterns for my older daughter to make sure that they came to her waist--particularly leggings and panties--assuming that she was just long-waisted.  And that might have been part of it.  I don't know that I've made her pants in a while--she's now 8 and I have found that Wal-Mart jeans fit her, as do Gymboree pants (now sz. 9).  I did find that some Ottobre Design pant patterns fit her just fine, while others were low in the waist.

My younger girl--almost 6 years--is the hard one to fit now, with her little round tummy.  She's in kindergarten, and just fits the clothes that her sister wore at the *end* of kindergarten (right when we discovered that she could fit Gymboree).  But this year's Gymboree pant styles aren't fitting my 6 yo at all.  So I decided to try the Forest Path Pants from the Autumn 2012 Ottobre children's issue.  They didn't take long to get together, particularly since I omitted the front pockets.  The only other modification was to the waistband.  They are supposed to have a drawstring. I also had narrower elastic (by 1 cm) than what the pattern called for.  Even so, I think the pattern could have been drafted with 1-2 inches more in the rise.  Here are my results.

They look fairly cute, if a little plain without the front pocket.  I was using a fine-wale corduroy from my stash, and I just barely had enough fabric for the pants--hence the pink waistband.  It's probably obvious why my daughter thought they were "sleep pants"...  *sigh*

The pocket and yoke details are nice in the back (though hard to see with the print):

But here's one problem.  They really are lower than I would like.

And the back pockets are positioned more on her legs than her bottom!

So what was the problem here?

Well, looking back at the magazine, I fear that this is how they were drafted, in part because they are primarily designed for younger children.  She is at the top of the size range, the next-to-largest size--at a European size 122.  The pants start at 92--which is the size her sister wore at 2 years old, just to give an idea.  The pants are pictured in the magazine three times.  First, on a toddler (they are unisex, which made me think they would be higher in the front rather than lower...):

It is pretty clear in the picture above that the pants come to the top of a diaper, no higher.  The second picture shows a boy wearing the pants.  I notice that he has his legs spread wide in the picture that actually features the pants, and that his hands are in his pockets.  You can tell that the top of the pocket is right under the hem of his shirt, which means that his waistband is only about 3cm above that point.  Still lower than I would like.  *sigh*

And the little girl who made me decide to make these particular pants?:

Her hands are in her pocket awkwardly as well, and her legs apart.  The top of her pants (you can tell by the drawstring) are right under the elasticized bottom of her top, though it is clear that they are sagging a little when worn like this.

I have to conclude that the pants are simply low-waisted, which I would have noticed had I looked harder at the picture rather than the drawing.  

The other thing is that the girl is wearing a sz. 110, the older boy, a 115, and the baby a sz. 92 (though his height is 88 cm--so maybe it runs small??)  None of the models is 6 years old, making me think that it really is a more juvenile design.  The pocket placement on the smaller sizes appears much better than on the sz. 122.  Oh well.

In the meantime, it is wearable with a longish shirt.  She doesn't have a longish shirt, so we'll have to work on that.  But lesson learned--scrutinize the design as shown in the magazine.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Nancy Clancy Trench: Ottobre 3/2008, #40 "Birdwatcher" Linen Jacket

Every year my girls' school has a "book parade" at the end of October.  It's part of their "say no to drugs" week, which I'll excuse because the concept is so neat.  The kids and teachers dress up as book characters and then have a parade.  This is going to be the third year for my now-2nd grader, and though my youngest has seen the parade twice, she will be in it this year!

So while little sister will be the Cat in the Hat, wearing a hat and bowtie that I made for her last spring, big sister will be "Nancy Clancy," the detective incarnation of the Fancy Nancy character.  For her costume, I made a trench coat using Ottobre's "Birdwatcher" Linen Jacket pattern from the Summer 2008 issue.

I seem to be opting for more details and complexity these days, and while the prospect is always a little daunting, it pays off!  I cut out the pattern last weekend, and pretty much avoided doing anything with it until 6 P.M. this Saturday.  I worked on it for about 6 hours on Saturday, and then much of the day (excluding meals and Mass) until 9 P.M. on Sunday.  The only thing I modified was the length--which is longer--and the beltloops.  The pattern calls for 4, but instead I made two fat beltloops and placed one on each side seam.  I think I could have placed them a little higher, but it still looks good.  Here are the results, including the most intimidating feature of all--the sleeve. I think it's fancy enough for Nancy Clancy!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Overly-Ambitious Treat Bags

So as of last night, the mustache/monacle and keyhole treatbags are officially done!  The birthday girl confessed to me that, although she does like the moustaches, she isn't crazy about the treat bags.  Maybe it's the monacle?  Some of them look a little cyclopic.  What surprised me most about these is how much string/binding//ribbon it took for the drawstrping backpack.  Almost 1.5 yards each!!  I was fortunate to have a friend give me some spools of ribbon that she had, and I managed to use some I had lying around and bought some from Wal-Mart (for $1 less per spool than the same stuff at JoAnn's!).  Otherwise, it might have been pricier than I expected!  I will have extras, too.  This one is my favorite:
And this one is the favorite of the birthday girl's little sister, who picked the colors herself!:

The birthday girl herself can't decide which one she wants.  She likes the pink on turquoise, but prefers the keyhole to the moustaches.  I might have to make one more... *sigh*

I had these in the back of my head, I think:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mystery Birthday Party Preparations

There is a sewing and crafting blog I love.  It is Ikat bag.  The author of this blog makes wonderful, fun things!  Her girls' birthday parties are always amazing! And she has a guide to surviving creative birthday parties, too.  After a while, the party bug rubs off...

Two weekends ago, I made these:

Last week, I was busy finishing a jumper, so this Saturday, I did this:

And this:

And this!

And all from materials I already had.  :)  I might have to buy some more fleece the next time JoAnn's has a sale!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Finished Products!: Ottobre Design - Autumn 2010 - Vahvero linen Romper

And to think I thought I would be posting this in a few more stages...

This is a pattern I have been wanting to make since I first saw the "sneak peek" images in August of 2010, but it is one I have put off because--well, it's a little initmidating!  Sometimes, I look at the Ottobre designs and I undestand the phrase "the devil is in the details"--but the details are so nice.  And this pattern, though it did have elastic shirring, and it did have fancy pockets, just called to me.  So here it is, finished...

 Front and back.

Two of them, in fact!

So I learned a few things along the way, one of which I already mentioned in an earlier post.

Another thing was that not all elastic thread is created the same.  I have made garments with shirring before, and it came out... okay.  The main problem was that the shirring was not durable.  It broke.  And then, the garment was basically ruined--three knit shirts for my older daughter when she was in Pre-K had shirring on the sleeve, one woven shirt for me and three more (woven) that I made for the same daughter a little earlier than Pre-K also had shirring, this time on the bodice.  And, well, I wasn't very happy with the result.  THIS time, it occurred to me to look up brands of elasticized thread.  And Lo!  I discovered that most people were recommending Güterman.  Had I known that Güterman made elasticisized thread, I would have bought it from the beginning, but I was focusing on the elastic part, and not the thread part, so I bought the cheap stuff that JoAnn's had by the elastic.  This time, I bought the Güterman, and the difference is already noticeable!

So here is an intermediate stage, with the side-seams sewn.

And here are some of the details that make these jumpers so lovely.  The pockets:

The shirring at the ankle (or slightly above) that give them that "bloomer" look:

And here, the shirring again, with the straps attached:

The button fastenings (I had no idea how these things were fastened, and they fasten surprisingly easily!):

I learned another lesson while making these, and that is to make sure the straps are long enough, even if it means making them too long.  I remember, now, a cute purple jumpsuit that my mom made for me--it had puffed sleeves, if memory serves, and a long zipper up the front.  Besides the whole using the bathroom issue, I remember when I began to outgrow it, how uncomfortable it was to have the all-in-one garment--and I remembered it, unfortunately, as I was fitting my younger daughter with her gorgeous purple jumpsuit.  It was very nearly too short in the rise.  I moved up the straps in the back, attaching them much closer to the top of the jumper than the directions specified.  Even so, I was only just able to place the buttons where they were marked on the pattern, which will allow me to move them once for adjustment when she grows.  My other daughter, who I think has a long torso, fits hers very well, with ample room to grown in the straps, which is good.  It may simply be that I should have cut a size larger in the smaller jumper.  But... c'est la vie! She should still be able to wear it a good many times--and boy, is it cute.  No clown pants here!!  Now to find (or make) cute shirts to go under...

Sewing Pleats and Tabs: Ottobre Design - Autumn 2010 - Vahvero linen Romper

So after a hiatus of a couple of weeks, I've moved on to the second "step," if you will, of the Ottobre Design overalls I'm making for my girls.  At this stage, I make pleats on the front of the pants on either side that open up to the side seams.  There are a couple of things here that I have to interpret.  The first is the "depth" of the pleat.  It may seem silly, but I did think about this for a while.  The pleats are supposed to be 1 cm deep, so from outer-fold to inner fold, I measured 1 cm.  I think that's right.

The other puzzle is where to stitch down the pleats.  The directions say to "stitch across the pleats"--okay, got it--but where to stitch is a little fuzzier:  "plac(e) the first row 3.5 cm down from outer edge of seam allowance on top edge of front panel and spac(e) the rest 2 cm apart from each other below the first row."  What I don't quite get is what, exactly, the "outer edge of seam allowance" might be...

Ottobre patterns don't include seam allowances.  You trace the pieces, and add seam allowances.  The recommended seam allowance is 1 cm, but not being a metric kind of gal, I tend to add 1/2" instead.  So is the outer edge of the seam allowance the edge of the 1 cm that I was supposed to add?  Which would mean that I would actually subtract the 1 cm I was supposed to add, add 1/2", and sew the first row at 1.5 cm + 1/2" from the very edge of the front panel?  Anyway, that's what I'm going to assume.  We'll see how it works out...

In the meantime, I have created a little tab with a buttonhole that needs to be sewn to the inside of the garment on the wrong side of the pleats.  Again, there is some confusion over where to place the button tab:  "2 cm down from outer edge of seam allowance on top edge of front panel."  Then, I "stitch tabs in place along rows of stitching sewn across pleats," which I believe means that I would turn the garment over and stitch the tab to the wrong side by sewing on the right side.  Well, here goes...

Okay, so as it turned out, I discovered that the "outer edge" is not the edge of the piece as I cut it out (including the seam allowance).  The "outer edge" is the edge of the pattern piece before adding the seam allowance.  The instructions are translated from Finnish--I wonder if this might be a translation error?  Anyway, I discovered this by happy accident.  As I was sewing the first piece--the brown pair--I accidentally sewed 5 rows of stitching across the pleats instead of 4.  And I realized as I did this that it just seemed natural to keep going to the end of the mark I made for each folded pleat.  And that mark ended just as I made the 5th line of stitching, spaced every 2 cm.  So clearly, the top row was one row too many.  When I measured from the line I had made to indicate my seam allowance to the 2nd row of stitching, it was exactly 3.5 cm.  Mystery solved!  And so I proceeded accordingly, measuring from where my seam allowance began, and starting the first row of stitching 3.5 cm from that.

The only thing of note when I sewed on the button tab was that it had to be positioned so that the 2 cm gap between rows coincided with the buttonhole itself, otherwise I would have sewn the buttonhole closed!  I noticed that right away, though, so I could adjust my rows of stitching accordingly.  In a perfect world, I wouldn't have had to do that, because my buttonhole and my lines of stitching would have been positioned perfectly.  *sigh*  Ah well, this will be one of those garments that comes with the disclaimer that slight imperfections make it unique, right?

Hopefully, I will be able to write about the elastic shirring adventure next time.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sewing with Linen

Sometimes, it's satisfying just to have some nice, crisp, ironed and topstitched pieces complete. These are the beginning of a new project that I'm making for the girls--linen jumpers from Ottobre Design Autumn 2010 issue. I have been wanting to make them since the issue came out, and finally got the nerve.  The color isn't good in the pictures, but the smaller pair--sz. 116--is deep plum, while the larger pair--sz. 128--is brown with silver roses.  My one concern is that the effect of the design will ultimately resemble clown pants. We shall see!

 I know--I really should stop putting images taken with my iPod on the blog...  Better pics next time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Easter Dresses - Final Product!

Okay, it's a little late, and I did have them done for Easter (about 2:30 A.M., to be precise...), but here are the finished Easter dresses!  The delay was caused by my woeful lack of photo editing skills.  I would like to have pixellated or blurred rather than cropping, but I finally settled on a combination of cropping and vignette in iPhoto.  Here they are, modeled!

Now, I must admit to cutting a corner.  I did not stitch the lining in.  It was very late when I was wrapping up...  So the bottom edge of the bodice lining is free-floating.  It should have been stitched by hand.  And I never can quite get the lining attached to the zipper correctly--which is part of why I tend to avoid lined bodices like the plague.  But it is almost impossible to tell when they're wearing them!!  A trained eye would notice the lining riding up.  *sigh*  I feel guilty.  Can you tell?   But otherwise I'm so happy with them.  They don't look like drapes at all! (That was a fear when I came home with my fabric choices.)  And Bellie (in green) wore hers for picture day last week, and was (appropriately) the belle of the ball!  At least two children wanted a dress just like it.  One little girl asked Bellie's daddy if he would buy one for her!  Needless to say, she was pleased with the attention.  And I was pretty happy with it, too!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Dresses - Penultimate Post!

When I post the next picture, they will be done and modeled!  Last night I assembled the back and front skirt panels before bed. This morning I stitched the side seams, gathered and attached the skirts to the bodices.  I am pretty happy with my gathers this time, but does anyone who sews not hate gathering??

I took a better picture--with my camera instead of my iPod--to celebrate my progress:

I still have to put in the invisible zipper and hem the skirt, and then they'll be done!  Ready for Easter after all!  Not so my first project, which was supposed to turn into bunny treat bags.  Oh well.  Maybe next year!