Sunday, January 27, 2013

2-in-1 Jacket: Review

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
The Froggy Coat

I am going ahead and blogging this even though it's not quite finished. My buttonholer is absolutely refusing to make even one buttonhole on this, let alone 5, so my new plan is try get some heavy duty snaps, but that's going to require a trip to the store or maybe even some online shopping, and the deadline for the sewalong is in a few days.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
Pockets! This red was really hard to photograph. 

My review...

Pattern: Unlike the robe, there were no issues with the pattern pieces in this one, except for pocket placement. Thankfully, I looked at a couple of tutorials dealing with the welt pocket, and they noted that the pocket placement was going to be wrong if you were doing anything but the biggest size, so I used their notes for moving mine over. I think I it about 2.5" from the edge, which was just about perfect. One of my pocket linings was pretty close to getting in my seam allowance, though, so I had to trim it down and then shove it out of the way when I was sewing the front together.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
You can see the pockets here

Instructions: I thought the instructions were pretty straightforward. The welt pocket is the only tricky part of this pattern, and I don't know if I didn't do it right or what, but it seemed pretty easy to me?  Ha ha--I kind of assume I'm doing some wrong if other people are saying it might be difficult, and I didn't find it to be that bad.

Fit: Definitely big and wide. I didn't want to go with the 2/3 since I was really thinking of this more as being a coat for next year, but it's really too big to look at all fitted this year. It's not just really wide on him, but the shoulders are falling off. I would certainly expect a 5 in RTW to do the same thing, though, so I don't think it's that off. The length on this was pretty decent, although it would probably be fairly short if he were 5!

All in all, I definitely recommend this pattern. It was quick to sew up, and if my buttonholer would cooperate, it would have been done in a very reasonable 2-4 hours (it's really hard to gauge total time when I only get to work in 5-45 min spurts). 

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
Sweetened up with his bribery candy. You can see a little bit of his ninja costume he's sporting underneath this. I don't know how anyone ever gets their kids to cooperate with styled action shots.

Froggy's Best ChristmasMy construction details: Will has plenty of jackets in his current size, so I was mainly making this to complete the sewalong and as a trial run for a nice one (maybe in wool?) for next year. Therefore, I only wanted to use stash fabrics (free!). I am still kicking myself for spending about $25 on the robe in November. :-(  Looking for something that might be appropriate, I turned up this red/black plaid flannel and some navy blue corduroy. No, they do not coordinate. I decided not to care. I don't have time to go to the fabric store, and I didn't want to spend even 40%-off price on something that matched. Of course, Will chose the flannel for the outside since it's red. I told him he'd look just like Froggy from the Froggy book series, and so the Froggy coat was born.

I was looking for something warmer than just two layers of fabric, so I interlined it with leftover flannel from the ill-fated Jedi robe.

This was my first attempt at matching plaids, and it went, well, not particularly well. It took me forever to get the pieces cut out, between reading tutorials on how to match patterns and fiddling with the pieces. Then, because I was looking at the interlined sides when I was stitching it up, I completely forgot I was supposed to be matching plaids and didn't remember till I had already inserted both arms and checked to see how it had turned out. Apparently I did well cutting on one side, as it matched perfectly, even doing it blind, the other side is off by a good 1/4". I thiiiiink I fouled up in trying to cut 2 layers at once, and I'm not sure the plaid was actually straight to start with. Grr.... I briefly considered ripping out the arm and the side seam and trying to work it so it would mostly match, but, being me, I of course quickly decided not to.

I barely have the time to get anything sewn, let alone done correctly! I was reading an old blog post on the Coletterie where Sarai was talking about sewing being an art, and meditative, etc, and we should take the time to do it correctly and fix mistakes. Clearly, she has never tried to sew with two high-needs kids under 4 before. Sometimes when I'm sewing, I literally have Will sitting on my shoulders or climbing me like some kind of spider monkey, and I'm snatching all manner of pointy, sharp objects from Soren and his long monkey arms. I do everything as pedal-the-metal-fast as possible and consider it good-enough if it's just complete. Maybe someday I'll have time for contemplative, enjoy-the-process sewing, but not any time soon, I fear. /grumpy-mom-rant.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
I asked Will to stand by Soren so I could get a picture of them together. He very deliberately positioned himself in front of his brother and then cheesed for the camera. 

Brothers, in a rare non-forced picture. I got them both to smile and was a hair too late in taking the pic to capture it. Sigh. 

Little Cutie1
Bonus baby cuteness!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sew Liberated Art Satchel: A Review

I decided to make two of the Art Satchels from Growing up Sew Liberated for Ella & Aubrey for Christmas.  I did some quick Googling to see if I could find any reviews before I started, but all I turned up was a bunch of bloggers from the book's blog tour saying they had made the Art Satchel or that they wanted to make it. That seemed promising, and I have liked most of the other things I've tried from the book. So Will and I went and purchased fabric (he picked out the fabrics and did such a great job--that boy really has a good eye for color!), and I planned to get going. Unfortunately, the final product left a lot to be desired.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel

Cutting took forever, but I think there's no way around that since there are a ton of little pieces. However, it would have been nice to have included the shapes in the pattern rather than just giving dimensions, so people wouldn't have to do as much measuring. Once I had cut out my first batch of pieces, I just used them as templates for the next batch. When I got finished cutting out, I was in shock at how much fabric I had left! Almost 1/2 yard of each of my two main fabrics! You can definitely safely purchase 1/3 of yard less than called for at minimum. If you're not doing any fussy cutting, you could go even less than that. Interfacing just needs a small scrap--the only two peices you'll cut from it are 4.5x3" and 2x2".

Then I started sewing and the problems with the pattern instructions started showing up. The first problem was in Step #7. The instructions say to sew down the elastic at 5.5" below the top right corner. When the crayon roll is complete and the button sewn on, this will result in the elastic being below the button by about 1", which makes the crayon roll hang all whoppy-jawed, as my mother would say. I played around with a piece of paper and think changing the original measurement to be 4.5" from the top right would correct this.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Check out that funky-hanging crayon roll.

I also was not able to get as many crayon holder-slots out of the fabric as I was supposed to (I assume sloppy seam allowances caused this, but the measurements could have been off here too--who knows; I didn't go back and do the maths on this issue in my post-mortem). Since the author then would give directions based on the number of crayon slots, I had to eyeball it when deciding where to fold and sew down my crayon roll. Actual measurements from the edges would have been much more helpful than "from the fourth crayon slot...."

The second problem was in Step # 14where the instructions say to put the contrast and main fabrics right sides together. Doing this will result in the right side of the contrast fabric stitched down out of sight against the satchel, with the wrong side visible inside the marker pouch. I believe it should be wrong side of contrast to right side of main fabric. Too bad I didn't realize this till mine was already hemmed backwards. Grrrr!

The last problem I had was with the snap closure on the outside of the art satchel (Step 30). The instructions say to fuse the interfacing to the body panel and 2.5" from the left edge and 7 5/8" from the upper and lower edge. Ok, so I did that, but what the instructions don't indicate is what portion of the 2x2" square is at that point, so I aligned it so that the square didn't start till 2.5" from the edge. After not being able to close my satchels, I'm pretty sure that the author meant for there to be 1/2" from the edge to the beginning of the interfacing, and then the square would end at 2.5". This placement would have allowed plenty of room for the tab loop to close. I know this is probably my own fault for not being able to visualize how this would work in the 3D version, but the author really should have indicated the measurement on her diagram with brackets showing where the measurements indicated fell. I made it as I thought the instructions were indicating (being very careful with my measurements) and the tabs would not close on my satchels--frustrating!!!

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Holding the tab down since it was too tight to close. :(

An additional problem I ran into was that when it came time to stuff my "plexiglass" into the satchel and close it up, one of my sets wouldn't quite fit in to the satchel height-wise. There is NO wiggle room in this pattern for not cutting super-well or taking any too much seam allowance. I would definitely recommend cutting your stuffing material 1/4 to 3/8" shorter than what is called for. Luckily, my dad had cut mine and was able to go back to the shop and take off a hair more, but if I had this cut at a glass shop, I would have been SOOOO frustrated! 

The satchels did come out very cute, aside from the problems noted and their non-functional clasps. However, considering the amount of time and expense I put into these, they were quite disappointing. I didn't realize how expensive these little suckers would be either--I had about $35 of material (and that was with two pieces of my fabric at 30% and 40% off!) in them, and that was with the "plexiglass" for free since my dad did it for me with materials from his shop. I had priced a piece at Hobby Lobby, and they told me it would be about $25--jaw drop!, so I knew I'd be doing some sort of cheaper option.

So, while cute, I do not recommend this pattern because of the mistakes and level of frustration that it caused me--frustration that was definitely not entirely user error.