Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Henry Shirt: Review

Henry Shirt

The Sewing for Boys sewalong pattern this month was the Henry Shirt. The pattern was labeled Advanced . I was afeared. Very afeared. 

I decided to solider on, though, and I even splurged and bought fabric especially for the project--Michael Miller's Baby Backyard collection (trying to entice myself to actually finish it?). I put several colors and versions of it on Fabric.com swatch wall and told Will he could pick one for the shirt. He didn't like any of them and selected a fabric with a construction-equipment print. Sigh. So, I picked my favorites of the Michael Miller fabrics and bought some of Will's choice as well.

Ok, so this pattern got hard even with the cutting out. Some pieces must be cut on the bias. Now I know what that means in theory, but when it came to actually doing it.....let's just say it would have been a big help to see a diagram for how to do it. I wasn't sure what part needed to be on the bias, and I was having trouble visualizing how the raglan-sleeve yoke piece was going to be put together, so I couldn't even use the usual "yoke" shape I see as a guide.  Apparently I got it enough on the bias, as I didn't have any trouble getting my sleeves/yoke to sew into place.

Henry Shirt
I do love the look of the contrast yoke!

I also had some trouble with the box pleat. Now, if I'd taken the time to go Google what a finished box pleat looks like (or better yet, found a tutorial for one--I'm sure it's out there), I would have known what I did wasn't correct. I made my big pleat, ironed it to one side and sewed it down. No squishing it out to the sides. An additional diagram of the process would have been very helpful. I also looked at the 3 pictures of the finished shirt to try and see what it was supposed to look like, and the pleat wasn't visible in any of them.

 Henry Shirt
The screwed-up "box-pleat." Oops.

Shockingly, I didn't have any real trouble with the body, except for turning and flipping parts and referring back to the pattern pieces to try and figure out how the sleeves and body went together. Once I got that figured out, it worked out just fine.

I ran into more problems with the collar pieces. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the top and bottom of the pieces were (I'm sure Soren screaming and holding onto my legs wasn't helping). I didn't want to sew it all up incorrectly, so I gave up for the night and left a comment on the this post asking for help. Karen LePage, one of the book's co-authors, emailed me the next day with an explanation and an offer to call or text her if I had more problems! Now that's what I call customer service!

All in all, I think this shirt took two to four hours (including cut time). It's hard to estimate time when my sewing time is so interrupted!

In terms of fit, the shirt is intended to be wide so that it can worn on top of a long-sleeved shirt for year-round wear. And it's definitely wide on my skinny boy. My fit might be even more blousy than it should have been because of my box-pleat fiasco--I'm not sure.

Henry Shirt
Will still seems not quite himself this week. Strep's effects lingering on?

Henry Shirt

Henry Shirt

 I would probably not make this pattern again as is, just because I am not one for layering  clothing, so there's no point in making it this large for my kids. As far as the looks go, it is really cute, and I love the little pockets and the inside yoke. It really looks nice.

Screw-ups: Box-pleat fiasco, collar got wrinkles ironed into due to an interfacing problem I had, collar and snap tabs didn't quite go together perfectly, and my pockets were attached slightly too low and the bottom finished edge ended up getting turned under into the hem so they wouldn't be sticking out lower than the rest of the hem.

Henry Shirt

All in all, I think I did ok considering I am not an "advanced" sewist by any means. It's definitely wearable and cute!

Henry Shirt
The coathanger Will is holding in these pictures is his "bow and arrow" he created after watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  That boy can weaponize anything!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Toddler Blazer Review

Melly Sews Toddler Blazer

I saw Melly Sew's Toddler Blazer on her blog and thought it was cute. I was intimidated by the idea of constructing a blazer, though--it seems like it should be pretty hard. Then I saw this version by Pinafore and Pinwheels and drooled. The whole outfit is darling, but I loved the blazer, and she said it was not difficult. So at the end of the school year, I rewarded myself for a hard day of grading by purchasing the pattern (nothing like a little retail therapy to dissipate frustration just a bit, and now that shopping time without kids is so hard to come by, it has to be online retail therapy).

Time: When Granny kindly offered to entertain Will and let me sew, I packed up the boys and we went down for a couple days. I got the pattern cut out and put together*  and my pieces cut out over a couple of hours, and spent probably about 4 hours (maybe less?) actually sewing.

Pattern: I found the instructions to be fine, although if I was a total beginner I think they would not have been sufficient. There were a few parts where I had to re-read several times when putting the lining/exterior together, but I think this was a user and not instruction issue.

Melly Sews Toddler Blazer

Melly Sews Toddler Blazer

Construction: The hardest part of the pattern was definitely fitting the sleeve into the jacket. I hadn't ever done this kind of sleeve before and found it extremely frustrating on the seersucker portion of the jacket. I had to fight against gathers and still ended up ripping out and resewing portions of the seam multiple times. The linen sleeves went in just fine, so that was clearly a difference in the fabric characteristics.

Otherwise, construction on this was very easy. I did skip the handstitching and simply top stitched everywhere hand stitching was called for.

Fit: I'd say this is pretty close to other 3T patterns I've used and RTW clothing, especially taking into consideration it's meant to go over other clothing. My model is still sick and was not going to deal with getting a whole outfit on. I will have to take better action shots another time.

Melly Sews Toddler Blazer

Modifications: I did not make any modifications to the pattern on this run. Next time, I plan to add either welt or flap pockets since pockets make all garments much more attractive to Will. Actually, I guess I did use a snap instead of a button since the huge, cute button I  picked was too big for my buttonholer to accommodate. I just sewed the button over the top side of the snap.

Melly Sews Toddler Blazer

Fabric: For the exterior, I used the thrifted seersucker (that I used in Soren's Suspender Shorts, the tie shirts, and Will's pair of matching shorts). I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that $3! The lining is a nice linen that I snagged on super-duper clearance at JoAnn's a couple of years ago. I made a ring sling for myself, Rachel, and a mini one for Ella and STILL had a long piece left. The only thing I bought new for this was the pattern and the button, so I think the whole thing only cost about $7.

Assembling this PDF pattern was a chore: it goes together quite differently than most PDF patterns I have worked with, and I assembled it completely wrong the first time and had to reprint and cut again. Argh! Read the directions before you assemble, don't just wing it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nerds: Born or Created?

Either way, Will is doomed, I'm afraid. He already has quite an obsession with the Star Wars trilogy. He knows what color light saber everyone uses, and the light saber that appears on the cover of each DVD is how he identifies which movie he wants to watch ("I want the one with the green light saber, Mama"--that's Return of the Jedi).

Will's Darth Vader Shirt

Anyway, he wanted a Star Wars shirt, so I Googled and Pinterested and found a few different tutorials for doing a freezer paper stencil Darth Vader shirt. Here's a link to one of the pins/tutorials I found (http://pinterest.com/pin/39899146668988448/--this one is by Homemade by Jill). I also found a Silhouette heat transfer-version that had the "we have cookies" quote, but for the life of me, I can't seem to track it back down--my apologies to whoever you are!

I went and grabbed a stencil version of Darth Vader (I discovered that  "stencil" is the search term to use to get the right kind of picture). Instead of cutting it out on freezer paper, though, my plan was to try out my new Silhouette heat transfer material.

First, I had to import my Vader .jpg into the Silhouette Studio software and trace him to create the cut lines. I used the auto trace feature for the first time. It did pretty well, but I still had to go and touch up some of the lines a bit, which was very tedious on my netbook that just has a touchpad and not a mouse. I do not recommend that!

After I had my stencil completed, I cut him out of regular paper to test him. It seemed to work, so then I created the lettering using a Star Wars font I found for free here. At first, I tried rearranging my letters so that I could fit as many of them in as small a space as possible--I thought I was being all smart and conserving the really expensive heat transfer material. But I shortly discovered this was a really dumb thing to do. I cut that out of my transfer material and then started picking out my letters and Darth Vader design and was wondering how in the world I was going to get all those tiny little pieces to stick down where I wanted them to on the shirt, especially since they kept shifting around on the shirt. So, at this point, I consulted the instructions, and guess what? I was doing it backwards! You weed out the parts you don't want, leaving the parts on the plastic sheet that you want to adhere to the shirt. Then you turn the whole thing over and iron on top of the plastic sheet (well,with a cloth on top of that). So then, in my cheapness frugality, I started trying to fit the pieces I'd already picked off back onto the sheet. Then I realized that if I needed to flip my material so that the plastic side faced up, that meant the image was going to be backwards. No big deal, except that my letters would all be backward. Then I vaguely recollected having read that in all the stenciling tutorials--you MUST remember to flip your design before cutting. Argh. At that point, I abandoned trying to stick anything back down.

Since I had destroyed my only piece of black vinyl, I had to order more (I looked locally and did not find it at either Walmart or Hobby Lobby). So, when the new stuff arrived, I recut, this time with everything arranged just as I wanted it on the shirt--you know, the way the directions SAY to do it. After a false start where my mat slipped and miscut (I am not sure why that happens?? I'm sure it's user error), I finally got a good cut, weeded out my negative space, and ironed it on. And...........it worked! (So far, I haven't washed it yet.)

The shirt itself is another Sewing For Boys Raglan T, upcycled from a thrifted 25 cent knit dress. I HAD TO BE red, Will's favorite color. 

Will's Darth Vader Shirt

I know he doesn't look too thrilled in these pictures, but he really loves the shirt. He was diagnosed with strep the day before I finally finished this project and was not at his usual level of perkiness, poor guy.

Editing to add that after I made him this shirt, Will started requesting that I make some "Darth Vader cookies." I made some oatmeal cookies, and he's been calling them his Darth Vader Cookies all week. Funny boy!

This is my entry for the Pinspired and Rewired  contest (Fabric edition) at Family Ever After. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Boys (Er, Girls) Are Back in Town

Jimmie and Rachel and the girls moved back to OK a couple weeks ago, and since Jimmie & Rachel were going to a wedding in KS this weekend, Granny and Papa got to keep the girls in Stillwater. Jana and I took the boys to visit them.Although the last 20 minutes of an otherwise pleasant car ride were marred by Soren's screaming, it was worth it. They had such a good time!

After the kids played an hour or so, we loaded up to get some lunch (can't wait too long when you have little babies to get to nap!) at Eskimo Joe's. Although we had a long wait for a table, Will & Ella had a good time running around the restaurant gift shop. We finally got a table and after another long wait for food, it came and we dug in. While we were waiting, Soren was pretty fussy, so I got out the chicken curry cubes I had packed for him, which had almost completed melting at that point. He scarfed the curry down, and even wanted some of my food when it came. So when I saw him gagging, I thought he was choking on a piece of burger I'd given him. When a little pat on the back didn't relieve him, I got him out of the high chair and swung him over behind me chair and started banging his back in earnest. He spit up a bit, and I thought we had it. Then he gagged again and projectile vomited all over the floor by my chair. And down his shirt and my pants, of course. It was disgusting and embarrassing. And now I know what spit-up versus throw up looks like.

After eating, we went back and the big kids jumped right back into playing. We tried to talk to the kids into watching a movie and napping, but they couldn't stop playing. They played with light sabers, hunted for treasure in the backyard, played sick Will (Ella seeking a doctor for her poor sick son), we made oven s'mores which the kids didn't care for (what's up with these kids who don't like chocolate??) and instead went for Popsicles.

Pretty girl!

Papa cut open his watermelon, and the kids and babies quite enjoyed it! Nothing better than watermelon outside on a hot day!

Beggaring watermelon from Papa

The babies eye the watermelon

Poor Soren couldn't hold his own piece and tried eating out the bowl.
Soren gets some watermelon

Nothing better than watermelon at the end of a hot day

After the watermelon, everyone needed a bath; 4 in a tub was a handful, but also very cute! The boys' clothes were pretty much stickified (and Soren had already used his spare outfit after the lunch incident), so they had to borrow from Miss Aubrey. I thought they made pretty cute girls, especially Will. Aunt Jana gave both Ella and Will pigtails, and they were Wilma 1 and Wilma 2. We then went to Freddy's for supper and a cup of custard for the kids since they needed MORE sugar!

Wilma 1 & 2

Wilma 1

It was a long day, but the kids did really super considering. I think they are going to have a great time playing together now that the girls are back relatively close! 

The Virus According to Will

When Will was sick a couple months ago, we were talking about why he was sick, and I told him he had a bug in his tummy that was making him sick. He wanted to see this bug, so I googled for virus images and showed them to him. He picked one out, declaring it his "buggy." This is the one he picked.

On Saturday night, he started complaining that his tummy hurt, so I sat him on the potty and had him try to go. While he was sitting there, he was crying and said, "My buggy's in my tummy again and hurting me. That green buggy with the pokey things--he's poking me in the tummy with his sharp fingers. It huuuuuurts." It was sad and funny and cute all at that same time. I am amazed at this memory and his imagination.

He has complained with the pain intermittently since then, so we're going to get it checked out today. Hopefully it's nothing!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shorts of May

Will is sadly lacking in the shorts department in size 3T. My buying ahead at garage sales and end-of-season sales seems to have slowed down drastically at 2s. Now that I know how easy it is to make a pair of shorts (and how much fabric I have waiting to be used!), I feel like I should make instead of buy them. Anyhoo, in May, I made six pairs.

In addition to the purple plaid refashion shorts, I made two pairs of upcycled shorts from the Made pattern.This orange pair is from a well-loved shirt of Bil's that ripped up one side. The fabric is so soft! It's definitely not bottomweight fabric, so I don't know that the shorts will last through the summer, but oh well. They were just headed for the garbage otherwise!

Shorts of May
I don't know why I can't get that silly front waistband to lay straight. No matter what I do or fabric I use, I get gathers/wrinkles in my front waistband on this pattern. 

I love the contrast stitching on these. I think it makes the shorts! So glad I got brave enough to try it.
Shorts of May

Next upcycle: these shorts were from a hideous, long denim jumper I got for 99 cents at the thrift store. I realized that although those things are ugly and completely out of style, they make a GREAT source of useable denim! I still have enough to do at least another pair of shorts.

Shorts of May

These are a direct rip-off of Swhin & Shwin's tutorial for embellishing boy shorts.

 Shorts of May
See more contrast stitching? And the orange shirt makes another appearance in the pocket linings & tab.

Shauna made the welt-pocket look so easy I felt like I could give it a try. I made mine a little bit too tall (I thought I wanted a LOT of orange showing), but it's ok, and now I need never fear the welt pocket again!

Shorts of May

Shorts of May
Close-up of the front tab. The two buttons on these shorts were also harvested from that orange shirt. You can't see it here, but they are a really nice (and perfectly matched!) pale orange button with a scroll pattern.

Also from the Made pattern was this seersucker pair to match Will's tie shirt:

Shorts of May

Although I love the Made shorts, I would like to find something a bit looser (and quicker) to make really roomy play shorts, so I decided to try Bobby's Bathers from Sewing for Boys as a shorts pattern.

Shorts of May

The blue plaid was my first attempt, and I added the patch pockets too high so they look pretty silly. I only added one to the madras pair, but it's in a better place. I added a faux fly to both of these, but you can't really see it because of the pattern (wasted effort, I guess). This is definitely a baggier pattern, but also much quicker to sew up.