Coco Racer #11001

There’ll be no prizes for guessing who this swimsuit pattern is named after. She was instrumental in testing the first samples for me…over…and…over…again, during the past 18 months. This design has taken time, but in the end we nailed it. No underarm or neck chaffe, no pulling on the shoulders, no constricting the shoulder blades, no wedgies, no catching water in the bottom or through the neck.

We like it best made fully lined, as the design instructs. However, I have made a “racing” version of the suit by just lining the crotch and omitting the front and back lining. It’s a nice suit that looks good and performs well.

I have several more swimsuit designs in the pipeline, both for kids and adults. I’m also considering putting together some kits since I have a stash of the most beautiful Italian swimsuit fabric on hand (chlorine resist, UP50, recycled). As soon as I finish juggling some of life’s curveballs, I might get on with it! ūüėČ

Death by dryer: to mini Rigel Bomber

Remember this awesome Rigel Bomber? I made it¬†a long¬†time ago, but¬†it’s had an awful¬†lot of wear since then. The outer cotton fabric is heavy and durable. My mistake was in lining the jacket¬†with a slippery viscose. I don’t regret it though. That viscose remnant I used was totally luxurious and something I noticed every time I slipped that jacket on.

Unfortunately, viscose can be a little more delicate than other fabrics when it comes to laundering. I made¬†sure I¬†prewashed¬†everything¬†first, but it¬†didn’t occur to me to dry the fabrics¬†in the dryer. I¬†rarely used my dryer in Australia. Even in Winter, with three kids, I could¬†efficiently¬†line dry all of¬†my washing.¬†This is starkly different to where I live now, where most people almost exclusively use their dryer. I initially¬†fought this practice, but when your neighbourhood has a no clothesline policy, it’s hard not to succumb to the convenience.

So to cut this rather long story short, my bomber found it’s way into the dryer (I do my laundry on autopilot and sometimes there are casualties). The outer fabric was still perfect, but the viscose lining shrunk significantly. Death by dryer.

I wasn’t going to waste my precious fabric-of-the-year though and decided to have a shot at modifying it into a mini-bomber. It worked pretty well. I was a bit scissor happy on the sleeves, because I had to guess the length while the recipient slept. It seems this child is longer than I think. The sleeves are just long enough. The proportions of the whole jacket are¬†also¬†a little off because I wanted to preserve the ribbing and pockets, and I could have slimmed the sleeves and torso down a little more, but¬†otherwise it’s not too bad.

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So what did I do:

1) I cut off the wrist cuffs and the bottom ribbing

2) I unpicked the centre back neckline and took about 2″ out of the back (and the ribbing)¬†by sewing a¬†CB seam. I added a bigger pleat to the lining but otherwise left it alone.

3) I unpicked the zipper, reattached the lining to the front fabric, and then simply overlapped it to fasten with buttons. Overlapping it at the front also helped balance the fact that I took a chunk out of the CB.

4) I brought the side seams in on the outer fabric by about 1″ (but could taken more out). I made most of the modifications to the outer fabric only. That way, if the viscose decides to shrink more, it won’t matter.

5) Lastly, I reattached all the ribbing, did some buttonholes down the front, and sewed on buttons.

Miss Seven is absolutely in love¬†with this jacket. I think¬†this is¬†because she remembers me wearing my version so much. From my perspective, it’s delightfully weird to see her wearing one of my favourite jackets in a mini-size.¬†But at the end of the day, she was desperately in need of a Spring weight jacket, so I’m glad that this is the one to fill that spot.

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Kwik Sew 2422 and 1615: swimsuits for my big girls

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer: I was given this fabric for¬†free by Funki Fabrics in¬†exchange for making something and blogging about it. How could I say no to free fabric, particularly with swimsuit season upon us.

We all know it’s hard to be completely objective about something if you’ve been given it for free, but I’ve tried my best. For a little more information, it’s also worthwhile checking out Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow’s review here.

I made two little swimsuits with my fabric, and I have a little bit more to go yet. My first make was for Miss Five, using Kwik Sew 2422 (complete with a big raspberry drip of melted icy pole on her leg). She was quite specific about the exact style she wanted (down to the actual pattern and strap design). She also chose her own fabric; digitally printed neon tetras. She wanted to be in camouflage for her swim lessons. Obviously.

My only modification to this pattern (from last time) was to raise the neckline by 1.25 inches. Then I just measured the old neckline curve, compared it to the new, and adjusted the length of neckline elastic by the difference. I should have also narrowed the neckline a little as I raised it. Next time.

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The second pair was for¬†Miss Seven, using Kwik Sew 1615, with the same (added seam) modification I’ve used in the past. I think she looks very chic! I only lined the front of the swimsuit bottoms, but due to the light colours, I realise now that I should have probably lined it all. At the moment,¬†they aren’t see-through when wet, but I will have to wait and see how that goes as the print fades.

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I’m pretty fussy about most fabrics, and swimwear is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised with this haul. The prints on the fabric were spot on and exactly as I expected (I could have ordered swatches but I didn’t bother as I was mainly sewing for kids. Yes, double standards abound in this house.).¬†For me, the¬†enormous variety of printed lycra and foiled dancewear fabric¬†are the¬†best thing about Funki Fabrics. I will say though, that their website is a bit awkward, and it does take a bit of time to navigate.

Quality wise, I¬†think the¬†swimsuit fabric is good. In comparison to a RTW surf rashie I own, the fabric is better. But it’s not the best I’ve ever had. I think this may come from the fact that Funki Fabric is all about variety and fabric design. It appears to me that they have the same white, base fabric that they apply all their prints to. It’s a little bit thinner than some other swimsuit fabric¬†I have in my stash, so if¬†using it for myself, lining will be a must.¬†For my kids though, this fabric is more than adequate on it’s own.

Overall, I’m actually very happy with this product.¬†The fabric has a lovely, smooth hand, good stretch and recovery, and the printing is beautifully done. The lighter print (black hearts on cream) feels a little painted on, but not terribly so, and I suspect this is intended to improve the opacity of such a light colour.

We’ve already taken the new swimsuits for a few test runs (which I was waiting to report back on) and they’ve performed very well.¬†¬†I can’t confirm that they helped the “big arms” actually¬†make it¬†out of the water, nor did I lose sight of my child amongst all the other neon fish at our local pool, but I¬†am happy to say¬†that there¬†have been¬†no saggy, baggy bottoms or immodest see-through togs.

Little gathered top: Part 2

This little dress/tunic is the perfect example of why I shouldn’t sew when I’m tired. But thankfully I have a very easy to please middle child. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to call it a dress, even though it wasn’t intended as such, and it is quite clearly too short to be one.

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I sewed it up in a size 6, which is a smidgen too big for Miss Five, but close enough for me not to bother with grading it. My plan was to recycle the circle overskirt that was originally intended for this dress.

This started out as a good plan, but to cut a long story short, I quite simply stitched the skirt on back to front, and then serged the seam before checking. The end result was an ultra short, but ultra swishy dress. Miss Five LOVES it. Thankfully, she also has some little shorts to wear underneath it.

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Part 3 of this adventure will no doubt be along sometime in the future because I’m still very much in love with Miss Seven’s little linen version.

Little gathered top: Part 1

I’ve been playing around with a little top design for my girls. I wanted something that would look cute with shorts and skirts, but wasn’t¬†your¬†typical¬†cotton t-shirt. I also¬†had some lovely little scraps of linen and cotton¬†that¬†I wanted to make use of.

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My first version of this top¬†was for Miss Seven. I¬†used some lovely soft linen.¬†I forgot to include an allowance at the CB for a button placket in my original plans, so I¬†had to make do with a hand-worked loop and button. It works, and I really love the look of the little loops and buttons, but they aren’t quite as sturdy as a placket. This top has to hold up to some serious physical activity.

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I’m very¬†pleased with the fit and I love the shape of¬†the little ruffle sleeves. I also like the high jewel neck. I wasn’t completely sure¬†that Miss Seven¬†would like the neckline but she seems very comfortable in this top and¬†I know it’s getting a lot of wear because I find myself ironing it every other day. I HATE ironing (except when in the process of sewing!), but I make the¬†odd exception with certain items of clothes that really need it. This is unfortunately one of them.

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Miss Seven’s birthday dress and her all time favourite makes

With the exception of the odd t-shirt, and winter coat, I sew pretty much everything else my daughters wear these days. Thankfully, they are all still at the point where they are delighted with anything and everything that Mummy makes, but there are always clear favourites that get worn day after day, literally until they are fraying at the seams. I always find it interesting to see what emerges as the winner, and why.

The big winners¬†over the past six months (based on frequency of wear)¬†are (working clockwise from the top left): her Twirl to Me dress¬†(I can’t help but feel a little chuffed with this choice),¬† her recent yellow cartwheel shorts (these surprised me!), the Oliver + S¬†Hide and Seek dress¬†(that retained it’s winning status even when I had to convert it into a skirt), a simple self-drafted¬†cotton maxi skirt, an Oliver + S Ice¬†Cream dress, her Rosie Assoulin knock off, a Go To mini Jaywalker maxi, and finally, that¬†Oliver +¬†S Hide and Seek¬†dress as a skirt and Daddy’s old Ralph Lauren sweater refashioned. My personal favourite is the Rosie Assoulin bow dress. I can’t help but watch her all day when she wears that.

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So what¬†got me thinking about her favourite makes? This Ice Cream dress by Oliver + S. I made¬†Miss Seven a new version for her recent birthday. Her earlier version really needs to be retired, and that’s saying something, because quilting cotton is hard-wearing. The dress¬†is¬†such a¬†practical and comfortable design for kids. It covers the shoulders and yet doesn’t restrict play. It’s¬†also a super easy sew and has become her go-to¬†school uniform.

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I used some beautiful charcoal linen and a little remnant of a floral linen/silk blend that I was lucky enough to find on the remnant table at Tessuti Fabrics many, many moons ago. I miss my weekly remnant shopping excursions. I had quite the stash of Tessuti remnants when I arrived in Kansas a year ago, but they are starting to dwindle now.

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Two little Jalie 3136 leotards

These leotards are such a quick and easy make. I love the opportunity to use contrast fabric, and I’m very happy with the overall fit on my tall,¬†slim girls.¬†I’ve made a few pairs already (here and here) so I knew what to expect. For Miss Seven, I stuck with a size 6, the same as last time. They fit her very well through the torso. The leg elastic is borderline too tight, but I think she’ll be ok with it. That’s the only thing I’d say about this pattern, is check the fit of the leg elastic before sewing it on.

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Miss Three LOVES gymnastics, more than anything else in this world right now.¬†Three year olds really don’t need gymnastics leotards¬†but I¬†couldn’t resist making her one, just so I could watch her impossible cuteness in it. She¬†wakes up everyday, puts on her leotard, and asks if its her ‘nastics day.

Her suit was made up in a size 3 and it’s a perfect fit all over. She is¬†on the 50th centile from head to toe, the true “baby” of this¬†family. Despite, LOVING this suit, and¬†actually being a very happy child all day, she¬†decided to practice¬†her grumpy, angry person poses for¬†the photos. I did my best, but there really isn’t any point negotiating with a three year old.

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Cartwheel shorts

I love having little girls to sew for, and lately I’ve been having a lot of fun creating new styles for their Summer wardrobes. I’m especially excited to be sewing shorts for them in the first time in FOREVER!

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Now I know there are already some great kiddie shorts patterns out there, but I kinda like to do things my own way. I get a big thrill out of making something completely new. I also had quite a few specifications from Miss Seven that simply had to be met, namely pockets, pleats, and cartwheel worthiness.

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These little shorts were also a pretty¬†good¬†scrap bust. You’ve seen the yellow sateen before (here and here) and the printed sateen trim has been around the block too. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all my scraps when these girls get bigger.