Jolie Skirts for My Girls by Filles a Maman (FAM)

This is the first pattern I tested* for 2016, called the Jolie skirt by Filles a Maman (FAM). I can’t believe I am only just writing about it considering it was designed to be Issue 10 of the One Thimble e-zine. At the time I had to be secretive about it until the official release but that has long gone now. If you haven’t seen One Thimble yet and sew for children I think it’s a must have, it’s great value and Issue 10 alone has 11 patterns and 25 articles.

I was drawn to this pattern as it is a basic a-line skirt with two design options, either with or without a centre pleat. It can be made in either woven or knit fabric and there is an elasticised waistband which is secured with three rows of top stitching plus it caters for 12 month to 14 years, a lifetime of wardrobe staples!

My oldest daughter is growing at a rapid rate at the moment and desperately needed new skirts. Thanks to this pattern I was able to add 2 new ones for her and also for miss 2.

There aren’t very many pages to print and assemble as far as PDF pattern goes, so it is a very fast process. There are pictorial instructions, accompanied by clear written instructions. I found the measurements to be pretty spot on for my kids. Some testers added a contrast fabric to their pleat which is a really nice effect. The tie at the centre is for aesthetic purposes and doesn’t have any function. There is a nice 1 inch hem and the waistband is top stitched which subsequently avoids the elastic twisting.

The first version for miss 4 was using a duck canvas navy/white stripe (100% cotton) I’ve had in the stash for ages. I only just had enough for this skirt but if I had more I would have made the stripes go horizontal instead. I used some cord for the tie as it felt like a bit of a nautical vibe.

Blue white stripes

Version 2 was made from some lightweight rustic print floral denim (cotton/polyester). I wanted to personalise this skirt a bit so added lipstick broadcloth (100% cotton) self-drafted pockets with a pleat design to match the skirt.

                              Denim floral with pockets

Version 3 was made from wool blend mixed boucle in black and white (8% wool/92% polyester). By this stage sewing them takes no more than 30mins from cutting the pattern to snipping that last thread. Such a satisfying sew which the girls love.

This boucle fabric comes from my Big Little classic ladies cape and I knew at the time exactly what I was going to sew with the scraps and that is why I kept them. I barely had enough to cut this skirt out though and had to cut the back in two pieces, added a 1cm seam allowance. It worked perfectly!!

                                                      Black boucle

I did have to serge all the pattern pieces before starting construction as this fabric frays like crazy, which is why I chose this pattern. There are minimal pattern pieces and it is such a fast sew that the fabric doesn’t require a lot of handling.

For miss 2, my version 4 I used some light weight summer vintage flower african wax print denim (polyester/cotton) and sewed on a ribbon for the tie.

                                                    Printed flower denim

Last but not least, version 5 was made from some black and gray flannel check E44 (unknown composition). Nothing Black plaidnew to say other than I had to serge all the pattern pieces prior to assembly because my fabric frayed so much.

This is really a no nonsense skirt, quick and simple to make with lovely results.

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*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

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Walker Kids Jeans by Momma Quail

Although winter is a few months off yet, my miss 4 is seriously lacking in the winter wardrobe, and I’m trying to be organised. The Walker jeans from Momma Quail Patterns were just the pattern I needed, I put my hand up straight away to test* them.

They are a relaxed fit jean with a bootcut and straight leg option in both full length jeans or shorts. The other thing is that there is an adjustable buttonhole elastic waist, full functioning zip fly and five-pocket styling, just like real jeans!!!! . The jeans are drafted for boys sized 12 months to 14 years but as you can see, they are perfect for little girls too. The PDF pattern has no-trim pages, always a bonus! and a layered printing option and also instructions for distressing your denim.

Lace pocket front   Lace pocket front 2 Lace pocket back

For all of mine I used the straight leg pattern. I made version 1 using a pair of my jeans that I have hardly ever worn. It’s a nice soft denim with cotton/elastane. I managed to get a size 5 kids pair from a women’s size 12 jeans. I followed all the instructions as specified and can confidently say you will find making these surprisingly easy with all the pictorials and thorough instructions. I wanted to add a bit of interest to these so made lace bows for the back pockets. I accidentally also hemmed them a bit too short but have since let the hem down.

The pattern underwent some minor changes such as narrowing the outer hip/leg so I made up another two pairs. The dark blue was using some rigid blue denim (unknown fibre content but stiff – we need to wash them a few times). I did some decorative pocket top stitching which is hard to see and am waiting to get some iron-on sparkles to highlight this.

                                        Blue front              Blue back

My third and final pair was made using a light weight summer vintage flower african wax print denim (poly/cotton). My theory behind this pair was that it would be a trans-seasonal pair of jeans that could be rolled up for warmer weather. Love how they turned out.

  Floral front      Floral back Capri front Capri back

So we have quickly ended up with 3 new wardrobe items. There was another change from the versions you see here to the final pattern and that was 1/2″ was removed from the front rise and the back yoke.

This is truly a great pattern, well thought out and drafted with great instructions, a large size range and unisex. A complete package. Don’t miss out and get the pattern 20% off up until the 14th March 2016.

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Black Birkin Flares 

Many of you may share my sentiments, others not so much, but I really hate shopping for jeans or any pants for that matter. My body is hard to fit, I’m a typical pear, and often is the case with jeans, I have major gaping issues at the back waistline, tight fit across the thighs and calves and the dreaded “plumber crack” with the “trendy” low cut versions. Not a classy look at all!!!

promo

Let me introduce you to the Birkin Flares by Baste + Gather. Flares aren’t my go-to jeans silhouette normally but apparently boot-cut styles are the most flattering for pears as it balances the hip. When the testing call went out I was happy to be accepted for the second round* but would have purchased the pattern regardless along with some of the other patterns in Lauren’s shop, which coincidently are 50% off (no code necessary), along with a discount code of “birkinrelease” to get $2 off your Birkin pattern, but both these offers are only until 11.59pm PST on Sunday, December 13. I have been following Lauren’s blog and Instagram for quite some time, mostly because I’m amazed at her work output whilst being a wife and mother of three gorgeous children.

Birkin front 2

                      Birkin front   Birkin back (2)

The instructions are really thorough for the Birkin Flares, that even an adventurous beginner could tackle these, there is lots of hand holding which is greatly appreciated. I had recently tested another jeans pattern so the process was fresh in my mind. Surprisingly jeans are no more difficult to sew than a well fitted dress, just a bit more fiddly and time consuming, especially when switching between regular and top stitching thread.

The pattern pieces fit together perfectly from printing and taping the pattern, to sewing. For my tester version I used 8oz black stretch denim (not sure of compostition but had 5% spandex) and didn’t make any changes to fit and didn’t even bother grading between sizes. My only change was to shorten them by 5cm, with shorten/lengthen lines provided on the pattern pieces, I am wearing them with heels in the photos. These are pretty close to the final pattern version that was released with adjustments/changes being predominantly made to instructions and construction techniques. Lauren really has put a lot of energy into getting this pattern perfect, being actively involved in the testing process and communicating quite regularly with testers.

I used some black top stitching thread so the details aren’t highly visible, but I was going for a dressy pair of jeans. Likewise, I chose to omit the rivets for the aforementioned reason but mostly due to my lack of access to hardware locally in the testing time frame. Although these are high waisted they aren’t uncomfortable by any means and are figure hugging in all the right places.

Birkin back

I have nick named them “Flaretastics” as they appear universally flattering and all the tester versions have turned out wonderful (check out the Baste + Gather blog to see for yourself). If you would like to empower yourself and make a pair of “designer” one-of-a-kind jeans that fit I suggest you buy this pattern and give them a try, especially if you have been intimidated with sewing jeans previously. Lauren is also drafting a skinny leg pattern so stay tuned for that which is next on my sewing list with washed and dried blue denim at the ready.

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

McCall’s 6503 Denim Dress

This is another item to mark off my SWAP 2015. This is McCall’s 6503, I made view C, without the flounce, and the last minute decided to make a pleated skirt but had already cut out my pattern pieces for the view C skirt, more on that below. I used some broadmill denim (100% cotton) in indigo. Although I pre-washed my fabric, it was a bit stiff for this dress, probably better suited to jeans, Gingers here I come, but I’m hoping after some wash and wear it will soften.

mccalls 6503 front

                         mccalls 6503 side front mccalls 6503 back

I found the instructions really good as it allows for a nice clean finish on the insides of this dress. The only thing difficult for me was due to the thickness of the fabric, in some areas I had to sew through 6-8 layers (including interfacing) but my trusty cheapo machine was like a workhorse.

mccalls 6503 inside

The dress fit straight out of the envelope without major fit adjustments however I did make some aesthetic changes. I lowered the armhole about 2cm at the bottom and tapered to nothing at the sides of the armhole and these were bound with 12mm black bias binding, as instructed. I also chose to make the front placket non-functional by omitting the button holes and sewing the buttons through both left and front placket. I used silver 13mm buttons which don’t really show up too shiny in the photos but thought they were the best choice for this fabric. There is also about 5cm of the side bodice which is stitched together before the zip starts but found I couldn’t really get the dress on comfortably so decided to make the zip go right up to the armhole instead. Unfortunately due to the thickness of my fabric, the zip insertion didn’t go that well and doesn’t lay as flat as I would like but I can live with it. I added a hook and eye to ensure it stays closed. I’m not sure if an invisible zip would have been better but maybe again the multiple layers of fabric or the stress at that point may have had a similar outcome.

Zip

I didn’t want to lose any length of my skirt so I bound the hem with 12mm black bias binding which also had a functional role as it would have been very difficult to turn this fabric twice to stitch the hem as instructed. As mentioned above, I was originally planning to make view c but wasn’t sure if the gathers would sit right so just used the already cut out skirt pieces and put in 4 pleats at both the front and back. I probably should have aligned the back pleats with the darts but wasn’t too fussed. I probably should have also checked what the difference was between view c and d pattern pieces as I may have been able to use it to measure out the pleat placement on my skirt panels.

There were so many layer of denim that it was also hard to slip stitch the collar down on the inside and also the internal midriff band so I decided to top stitch both these areas. I just wish I had graded, or cut my seam allowance smaller for these midriff bands, as you can see from the photos the seam allowances are visible.

mccalls 6503 side front  2

Just for my own reference, I serged the shoulders and bodice sides before step 24 which is where you attach the front to back bodice pieces. I serged each side of the midriff bands after step 44 after they are attached to the bodice. Lack of concentration however had me attach the midriff facing to the bottom side of the already attached midriff band which I only noticed after understitching. Thank goodness this is a forgiving fabric. I also serged each of the skirt pieces prior to sewing them at the side seams.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress and the gap it fills in my wardrobe. I have worn it twice already since having been made 4 days ago. I also really like this pattern and definitely will be making it again and perhaps may make the midriff bands a little thinner next time too.

The Schoolday Skirt, First One Breaks the Rules, Second is Bright As ……

I read a post recently from Kristy, author of Lower Your Presser Foot, about how she has imposed some sewing rules, one of which was to deal with her fabric scraps. The funny thing is I made this a new years “resewlution” for myself too. I vowed to either use up scraps immediately in my next project OR cut the scraps up ready for quilt making if they would be suitable. The problem with option 2 is I have never made a quilt before and that means scraps will linger for goodness knows how long until I have enough to actually make a decent size quilt.

So this project started off as a means to use my denim fabric scraps from this Kwik Sew skirt. I browsed online until I saw a pattern I liked. It’s the Schoolday Skirt from Blank Slate Patterns. The joys of PDF patterns is that I had paid, downloaded and printed all within a couple of minutes. Additionally because kids clothes are smaller, there are less pages to print and stick together.

blue denim frontNow here in lies the problem. This was a stashbusting project and I didn’t have enough of the indigo denim fabric (95% cotton/5% spandex). I cut the upper yoke, pockets and back but not enough for the full pleated skirt. I did what the art of sewing is all about and personalised/modified. For the inner parts of the skirt I used a shirt of my husbands that was in the mending pile for such a long time he’s obviously forgotten about it. The cotton fabric was probably a better choice anyway because the denim is quite thick on its own. The skirt is made up of two ruffle layers.blue denim back

I initially thought about adding some thin ruffle lace along the hem but that was getting lost within the second ruffle layer. Eventually I just decided to add a white bottom ruffle from cotton poplin (100% cotton), no bells or whistles. For the hems I did a rolled hem for both denim and poplin. All seams were neatened with the overlocker.

blue denim insideThe button decision was just as hard with nothing quite appropriate so I did make a trip to the store and  chose these blue eyelet ones as I didn’t want anything too obvious however I do wish they were slightly bigger. The buttonholes are not my best work (I should have interfaced the area) but are functional even though the skirt has an elasticised back waist.

                                                                                       I believe sewists are celebrating selfish sewing week but I seem to be doing the opposite as I quickly made version 2 of this skirt using some stash fabric. It’s a denim in neon pink (95% cotton/5% spandex) and this thing is just as bright in real life I kid you not! For the “lining” parts I also used stash broadcloth in lolly colour.  I used pink eyelet buttons and again should have interfaced the area for stability.

pink denim frontpink denim back

I followed the instructions as written and neatened all seams with my overlocker. The problem I had was getting crisp pleats at the hem as it is turned up 1/4 inch twice and then stitched so that area is quite thick. I think I will need to go back and to some heavy steaming. The skirt is well drafted although I went up a size for my daughter as she is on the tall side whereas width wise I didn’t think it would matter too much due to the elastic waistband. It’s a really quick sew and would look nice in some drapey fabric.

pink denim inside

Now back to some selfish sewing!!

Make it a Kwik Sew 3728 Skirt in Denim

I’m glad to finally be marking off an item from my 2015 SWAP. I used Kwik Sew 3728 which is now OOP and although originally planned to make view B, I made view A as I felt it could be dressed up or down a bit more.

front                       side  back

I fell into 2 sizes with this pattern and decided to go with the smaller of the two as the denim (95% cotton/5% spandex) in indigo colour, had a fair bit of stretch. The fabric was a remnant left from my Sewaholic Thurlow trousers I had modified into maternity pants with an elasticised waist and fake fly some 3 years ago, pre blog obviously. The reason I mention this is because I didn’t have enough fabric to get the full width of the skirt by about 1/2 inch (cut S instead of M for last part of hem), only a minor change really. I figured it wasn’t overly important given the a-line shape of the skirt and the front pleat, there is definitely enough fabric still in the skirt to not affect the fit.

skirt width

The other interesting thing was this little tidbit on the front skirt pattern piece. I have never seen it before and wondered why a company would print that given that not all the population can make a garment straight from the packaging and require fit changes. Does anyone know the reason for this? And is it printed on all Kwik Sew patterns? Now I’m curious and must check my stash to see if this is the case. Also I urge you if you are interested to check the Kwik Sew site as on the resources tab that have some educational material which is quite helpful.

info

The skirt went together really quickly and was finished in a night. I used a light interfacing for the waistband as the denim was already quite thick and didn’t want too much bulk. I inserted a 7 inch (18cm) black invisible zip as that is what I had on hand on interfaced seams to strengthen the area.zip interfacing

The changes I made were to hand stitch the waistband from the inside rather the instructed stitch in the ditch which never ends up neat and even for me. All seams were neatened with the overlocker and the hem was also serged and then turned up by about 8cm and then hand stitched in place. This skirt is a no brainer if completely done by machine as instructed.

The photos were taken after a day of wearing the skirt and there hasn’t been too much stretching out of the fabric. I can see there is a small gap between the zip and waistband but I’m not too fussed about it. I’m happy with the fit and style of this skirt and think if I make it again I would love to add some pockets.

back opening