Baby clothes

So I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant and life is running by so fast with everything going on in our family – I was definitely feeling like this unborn child was getting less time and attention than my other two did. I mean, we don’t have a name shortlist, I haven’t had time to keep up yoga as I did in the past, I haven’t knitted anything for the baby, or even planned to – yup – the reality of a third pregnancy is that it just kind of happens while everything else is.  So I decided that I was going to make the effort to haul my exhausted self up the ladder to my sewing space and make some baby clothes.

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I have a lot of small or remnant pieces of knit fabric – jersey, french terry, rib knit, velour, so I knew that some pretty cute garments could be made with what I already have. I also have a huge stack of Ottobre kids magazines – which have heaps of well-drafted baby clothes so I really had no impediment to starting. (Actually I really wanted to buy Farbenmix’s Zwegenverpackung pattern, but it’s not available as a download, nor in stock anywhere in Australia right now – so I decided to suck it up and not buy another pattern that I don’t need.)

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These pants are from the Autumn 4/2012 issue and are 7. Crawl and roll – loose fit jeans for baby, available in seven sizes 56-92. They do indeed look like they will be very loose, baggy pants, in fact they look rather ginormous on the baby in the magazine, especially in the rise, but there is something rather adorable about that too. In fact they remind me a lot of the Bonds Roomies Cord pants which are quite popular, and Julian had a pair as a baby.  It would be an excellent pattern if you were using cloth nappies.

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The denim is extremely soft and lightweight, which it needs to be. I repurposed it from a skirt that a sewed for myself a few years ago that was not a success, the fabric was originally from Rathdowne Fabrics.  The striped rib was from Craftymamas Fabrics, I think it is Hilco Ringel.

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There is a fair bit of detail in these pants – the back pockets, knee patches, crotch gusset, and quite a lot of topstitching. Worth it though!

The t-shirt is from the same issue and is 1. Mint T-shirt, also in sizes 56-92. I made both patterns in the size 56, which given that my other babies were 52 and 54.5cm long at birth, I’m hoping will fit for the first month.

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This T-shirt has set in sleeves, rib binding at neck and sleeve hems and a back neck opening with a fastener.

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The body fabric is cotton-elastane jersey, probably from Rathdowne Fabrics and the rib is the same as before.

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I used a multistep zig zag stitch for the hem and a press stud for the closure – the pattern called for a snap or a flat button. I constructed the whole thing on my sewing machine as I find using an overlocker too cumbersome for something as small and precise as baby clothes.

Overall I’m really pleased with this little ensemble and think I might add a sewn jacket and hat. Does anyone know of a good pattern for little sewn baby shoes/bootees? It would be nice to have a complete outfit.

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Corduroy Chelsea Pants

Years ago I had a great pair of wide wale navy wide leg pants. They were mens pants and from Colarado (now defunct sadly). They fit me really well as they had a narrow waist and generous fit everywhere else and I wore them to death in my early twenties. Now I have recreated something similar from the StyleArc Chelsea pants pattern.

I intend to make these pants many times, perhaps as longer-length shorts for summer. This pattern is very me. In fact I have just put up a construction tutorial and a fly front tutorial so that I can whip these up forevermore!

They are perhaps not the most glamorous pant but they are sooooo comfortable. I’ve worn them for the last three days. Since wide wale non-stretch corduroy seems to be a pretty unfashionable fabric I was forced to shop at Spotlight. At least they stock it when no one else does (well Rathdowne Fabrics or GJs anyway).

I also think that I may be winning the pants fitting war after many years of pants failure. Success seems to lie in lengthening the back rise significantly before I start and then fitting as I sew. This is how I lengthened the rise with wedges.

Here is my previous version.

Pattern review is here.

Fly front construction for the Chelsea pants

I’ve made the StyleArc Chelsea pant twice now and the StyleArc Sally jean skirt. Both patterns have a fly front with a facing and a separate fly bearer which covers the zip on the inside, protecting you (and your underwear) from the zipper teeth. I really love this fly front – it seems like a ‘proper’ menswear style fly front zip, rather than most women’s sewing patterns which often leave off the bearer (compare to the Colette method here). The front topstitching for this method looks very much like it is constructed in the same way as my factory-made jeans.

StyleArc provide instructions and several diagrams for this method. but I found that it wasn’t quite obvious enough for me, so I wrote down these steps and took some photos (which are intended to augment the instructions in the pattern) so that I could do it perfectly when I make these again. I also added when to finish edges. I hope that this helps you too!

1. Overlock/finish curved edge of fly facing.

2. Sew fly facing to right pant front.

3. Turn to face and press.

4. Sew zip to left pant piece using zipper foot. You can line up the edge of the zip and pant piece due to 10mm seam allowance. Don’t sew to close to zip, I like a 2-3mm gap between teeth and stitching.

5. Fold fly bearer in half wrong sides together and press, overlock/finish bottom edge.

6. Cover zip with bearer and sew.

7. Turn to face and topstitch.

8. Zig zag finish inside seam raw edges on both right and left sides. (I find it too narrow and fiddly to overlock)

9. Attach right and left sides of pants along crotch seam, right side up so you can meet the seam line at the zip opening. Back stitch securely at zipper opening.

10. Attach fly facing to zip keeping bearer and right front free. Use a zipper foot.

11. With bearer still folded out return right front to its place and topstitch up to start of curve using zipper foot. (The straight line of stitching on the left in this image.)

12. Return bearer to its place and topstitch curve connecting right front to bearer, narrow zigzag to secure. (This curve is shown in white chalk in image above and below.)

Done!

Construction method for Chelsea pants

So I’m making the StyleArc Chelsea pants for the second time. I have devised my own method of construction that allows me to fit as I sew. This is tailored to my particular fitting needs (adding back darts, taking in the waist etc) but I’m putting it up here so that it may help others. I hate it how instructions never tell you when to finish seams, or choose a construction order that makes it really hard to fit as you sew. This method is just one I made up as I sewed along. I’m hoping to power through all subsequent pairs now that I have this worked out and documented!

1. Interface waistband pieces.

2. Stay stitch upper edges of pant pieces to prevent stretching.

3. Construct fly front. See separate post here. After this step the zipper is inserted and the front crotch seam is sewn and finished.

4. Sew and finish back crotch seam.

5. Sew and finish inseams.

6. Pin outseams (outside leg seams). Try on and adjust to fit. Check that the side seams sit straight on the body, I usually need to take in the front pant pieces at the side seams to get the seam to sit straight.

7. Sew outseams, try on to check, finish seams.

8. Try on, pin in some back waist darts (the pattern doesn’t have any but I always need to add them). Measure darts, straighten and repin, try on, sew darts.

9. Iron belt loops piece into thirds lengthwise.

10. Topstitch both sides of belt loops piece, cut into four equal pieces.

11. Pin loops to right side of waistband pieces at the top where indicated by notches.

12. Sew belt loops on, noting 5mm seam allowance.

13. Sew centre back waistband seam to bottom of cut out notch (10mm seam). Press open.

14. Sew same seam with waistband facing pieces.

15. Pin waistband pieces to pant top matching notches (10mm seam), keeping belt loops free.

16. Pin waistband side seams to match pant pieces (in my case this will involve quite a bit of taking in). Try on to check.

17. Sew waistband side seams, trim allowance, press open, repin to pant.

18. Sew waistband to pant (10mm seam), pant piece up so that you can see the stay stitching line.

19. Press seam, press allowances up towards waistband.

20. Pin waistband facing to top edge of waistband (5mm seam).

21. Pin and sew facing side seams to match waistband, trim allowances and press open.

22. Sew facing to waistband along sides and top (5mm allowance on top and diagonal seams, 10mm allowance on vertical seams but adjust allowance so that waistband centre front and back seams match pant pieces).

Sew very close to point of notch at centre back.

23. Press seam, clip corners, turn and press.

24. Turn under bottom edge of waist facing, press and pin.

25. Stitch in the ditch from the right side, removing pins as you go. I like to sew this in sections from right front to centre back, and from left front to centre back so that if I get any bubbling it is at the back where I it won’t be as noticeable.

Check that the facing is caught in the stitching all around.

26. Press under ends of belt loops. Pin and sew securely.

27. Mark and sew buttonholes.

For me this involves following this entire page on instructions – you may have a machine that does automatic buttonholes, I have heard about such newfangled devices. I do love my machine, but the buttonholes suck.

Sew on buttons. (Apparently some machines do this, I obviously do this by hand).

28. Try on pants, mark hem length, finish hem, pin and press hem, try on, sew hem (I like a hand stitched hem).

Whew! Seems like a lot but really it wasn’t too bad at any step. I hope that this helps someone else make these great pants! I intend to print this tutorial and then whip up a few pairs quickly without having to think over each step.

Sick….

Sewing and knitting and well, having fun, has been on hold for a while. I’ve been sick, just a random virus but a nasty lingering one. The kids have had it too but not as badly, thankfully. Last night I rang and cancelled all the fun stuff I had planned and went to bed.

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I did get a pair of StyleArc Chelsea Pants cut out on Saturday just as I was succumbing to the lurgy. I’ve made these pants pants once before and am hoping for an easy satisfying sew. Hopefully…..