Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Fishtail Kimono by Chalk and Notch.

Today I have 3 versions of the same pattern so prepare yourself for a bit of photo overload but at least with different colors, textures and details to look at, ha.

As you can probably imagine if you are a regular reader of this blog and know my honest review promise and my super annoying (even to myself) critical eye, it is not very often that I open a pattern and actually start cheering. But I did when I opened the file to The Fishtail Kimono. 
It's not perfect but it is darn close! (and yeah I know perfection is very very subjective so I'm of course talking from my personal perspective!) More details to come along this post....

Let's start with the version that is the most close to the original. 
The pattern can be made both with knits and wovens which so rarely works but in this case totally makes sense because of the loose style and fit.

This one is made with a aqua cotton knit with silver spots from Fabric Depot.

My Janome cover stitch was again hard at work. You obviously do not need a cover stitch to make this style but it was very helpful for hemming, the back seam above the gathering (to stitch it down so it lies flat) and for the neckline and front opening rib.

So this is a near-perfect pattern to me I said, yes I did.
It is just SO full of information and not only information but the relevant kind of information.
Gabriela the designer has worked as a pattern maker before and that shows. The pattern pieces itself also have lots of information on them (e.g. hem SA info) which I absolutely love. Every time I don't have to look in the tutorial for info that I need to know to make the garment makes me a happy bunny.

I also loved the techniques she is suggesting in her tutorial, the use of fusible interfacing, the important notches are there and it is seriously just a pleasure to see such a simple style (nothing wrong with that just to be clear - they can be the hardest to design) be treated with this type of attention to detail!

The only time I was confused was when I tried to figure out the difference between neckband version 1 and 2. That information is in the tutorial but I had to look more for it than expected. Then when I realized that the difference basically was a matter of a button loop (but that very correctly does make a difference to how to cut and sew the neckline) I also understood why that information didn't have a more visible place in the tutorial. In other words this is a tiny detail but I thought I would mention it to avoid you coming in the same situation.

Let's move on to the version with a little twist.
 (Yes, the next version has a bigger twist.)

This one is made from this very soft and stretchy French terry and then with this beautiful neon coral crochet stretch lace from Mood Fabrics on the gathered lower back piece. And I know you are wondering why in the world I choose to put a similar color dress under this lace and make it so much harder to see....and I totally ask myself the same haha. 
I will say to my defense thought that the contrast between the neon lace and the red dress in real life was way more visible than on the photos, gah. But I have done what I could during the editing of these photos and I hope you get an idea of what it looks like!

Just a quick note about the red dress that is in fact handmade too but for unknown reason never blogged. It is the Celestial Tee by Figgy's extended to a dress.

For this version I didn't use my serger at all, only my sewing machine and my cover stitch. The reason for that was the lace. Since the lace is see through I would prefer to have the seams stitched 'away' from the lace so there is no chance of it being visible through the lace. So as you can see on the photo above, the seam above the gathered back piece is stitched up on the top back grey knit piece. And the side seam is stitched towards the front bodice. This is just me being very very detail orientated and you should not hold back making a lace version if you don't have a cover stitch machine, ok! You could just serge the seam and then use your sewing machine to stitch afterwards.

Okay, the last version and I'm literally giddy to show you......

Because it has faux shirt sleeves!!!!

I know you are suppose to be a bit more down to earth about your own genius ideas, bahaha but man I love this detail and one day I WILL make one for myself!

The smoky blue knit is a stretchy Rayon Bamboo French Terry from (the same quality as the red dress in the previous outfit) and the stripy woven cotton voile is from Mood Fabrics. This blue color looks like it is sold out but HERE is a link to the other colors. The quality is beautiful!

I knew very early on that I wanted to make a version that mixed knit and woven shirt fabric but it was only during cutting, when I realized that I didn't have quite enough of the blue French terry and had to cut the sleeves shorter, that the idea about adding faux shirt sleeves came.

The pattern drafting is very very simple because you only need two measurements. The width of the kimono's sleeve by the hem (which you measure on the paper pattern) and then the length of the faux sleeve extension. Make a rectangle with those measurements, cut two of those and you are in business.

I thought it would look the best if I sewed the faux sleeve to the kimono sleeve by the hem stitch and not at the very bottom of the kimono sleeve. So if you look at the photo above you can see those 2 cm of the very bottom hem of the knit kimono sleeve is not attached to the woven sleeve. Okay, this is super hard to explain but I think you understand, right!

I finished the woven sleeve with a bias covered slit and a bias tape tie band

For the front I used a knit rib that I cut a few centimeters shorter than the pattern piece (since the pattern piece is not originally drafted for a rib) and I knew the rib would stretch. Sewn on with my sewing machine and then stitched with the cover stitch.

 And can you believe that these denim Ash pants that I blogged about in June are already too short. Argh, kids stop growing!

Okay, so there you have three versions of the Fishtail Kimono. And I kind of feel like I want to make more. It is a fast (depending on details, ha) and fun sew and you are in very very good hands throughout the process.

Get your own version of The Fishtail Kimono HERE.

Thank you!

Monday, December 14, 2015

All You Need Jammies - Christmas pajamas 2015

Two christmases ago I made these ladies their first christmas dresses and this year I took the plunge and made them their first christmas pajamas.

It's not a tradition I grew up with - probably because Christmas Eve is the big event in Denmark with christmas dinner, dancing around the christmas tree and then finally presents. In other words there are no specific morning traditions.
I love love love the American/British way with presents in the morning and this year it will finally happen in mommy mades. 

And the name of the pattern is to be taken literally.
From this pattern you can make 5 different garments. Gathered and regular tee, leggings and lounge pants plus a gathered nightgown. 
That's impressively generous for little over $8 if you ask me!

And even better the pattern has an easy overview to which pages to print depending on what you need. I love patterns that do that. 

But before I talk more about the pattern, let's talk about this fabric!

There isn't a ton of cotton based knit fabric out there and even less with prints in my taste so I practically jumped when I found this Boxer Reindeer Jersey Knit at the peek-a-boo pattern shop that-now-also-sells-fabric. 
I asked Amy the owner if this would work for pajamas and I LOVE that she was honest and said, "It can be done but personally I think it is a bit too thin for the pants. What about using this great red knit, it would be perfect for pants." I had not even thought of that and I honestly think this is a much better result than the whole outfit in the reindeer print. Thank you SO much for perfect customer service and lightning fast shipping!

The Reindeer print does not have a whole lot of stretch either so the gathered top in this pattern package was oh so perfect.

I feel like these photos are a bit unfair to the fabric. They are taken in the afternoon after the kids had been wearing them since the morning and I don't think you can find much knit that would not have 'knees' in them at that point. We had even been trampoline jumping at this point, haha. It really is great for leggings, promise!

Okay, let's get back to the pattern.

Sizewise the pattern is big - which is not meant as a complaint but just a reminder that you in this case REALLY have to measure your child or do what I did, used an already fitting pajamas to compare the pattern to get an idea of what size to make.

The clear indicator I got that the pattern runs big was when I realized that my tall (90 percentile) almost 6 year old could fit the size 5 (also in length) in the leggings and top. Again, not a problem as long as you remember to measure.

What I do not recommend you to do though is to use a top with lots of stretch to determine size and then afterwards realize that the fabric you are using has little stretch, DUH! 
I had already cut out my size 5 top pattern and went totally rogue and sort of graded it up while cutting...sooooo if you noticed a little center front and back pleat on little sister's neckline you should know that is me fixing my own problems and not a problem with the pattern, ha.

When it was big sister's turn (almost 8 years old with average height and weight) I had (kind of) learned my lesson and made her the size 9/10 in the top (because of limited-stretch fabric) and ahem, then I might have used the size 5 leggings patterns and added a bit of width and length while cutting (at least this time it totally worked....seriously, sometimes 15 years of sewing experience have to pay off, right!?) 

I had a few problems with/comment to the patterns.

You know I from time to time measure my paper patterns before I even start cutting and I found that the sleeve is a bit too small for the armscye. It's not something you would notice when you are sewing it because the fabric stretch and you might not even notice it when it is sewn in unless you have a trained eye (or you saw a comparison between a sleeve that fit and one that is too small) but the feel from the wearer will for sure improve and so will the look if the sleeve fit.
An easy fix is to simply add a bit of width to the sleeve seam and maybe also raise the sleeve cap a tiny bit depending on how much you know about pattern drafting. Or maybe using a sleeve size bigger than your bodice would actually do the trick if you don't feel like doing any changes to the pattern.

Another small thing was the gathered pattern piece (the lower part of the bodice of the tee). It is shaped like a half trapeze shape which means when the side seams are sewn together it creates a pointy side seam. I know I'm anal here and most would just cut it off and make a straight line at the hem but I can't help thinking that if only the pattern piece had been made from a rectangle piece and then using the cut and slash method which keeps the corners in their correct 90 degrees state then no correction would be needed.
I did my little trick and raised/curved the top and hem seam gradually to about 1 cm / 3/8" towards the side seam and created those pesky 90 degrees corners that creates straight lines when you sew them together.

A third thing is the fit of the leggings on the front of especially my youngest (who wear the true size 5 pattern) but I must admit I didn't spend any time looking into possible fixes because hey, this is pajamas that they will sleep in under a duvet, ha.

My Janome Coverstitch was again hard at work and I used it both at the neckline rib, above the chest gathers and to hem the bodice and sleeves. 

And here is a closer look at that silly reindeer.

This photo might be a bit blurred but how could I not use that!? It's funny how photos (or looks on photos) can deceive because they they were craaazy during this first attempt of getting photos hence why we ended up jumping trampoline and only try again outside way later in the day but hey it all worked out in the end.

Get your own version of All You Need Jammies pattern HERE.

Thank you and happy holidays!