Where’s Spot (Kids Clothes Week: Oct 2014)

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When you work as a teacher in the primary system and you build your own classroom library, you tend to have a lot of picture books. Which can make it hard when people want to buy books as gifts. When people asked what to get for Squirm for his first Christmas, I started thinking about classics we didn’t yet own – one was my little sister’s favourite series – Where’s Spot by Eric Hill. As Squirm’s grown older, he’s fallen completely in love with his Spot books and it seemed like an excelled Kids Clothes Week choice.

The plan for this outfit started with the shorts. I wanted to include the lift-the-flap feature which the Spot books are so well known for. The obvious place for these was the pockets and I decided to make them so they lifted up completely with text underneath. I used stash fabric for the shorts and fabric from an old pair of shorts of mine for the pockets.

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I used the Clean Slate shorts from Blank Slate patterns – the version with no front pocket or fly – and drew pieces to create the back and front of the pocket. Each piece had 2 pieces of fabric (4 altogether since there were 2 pockets) and then the top of the pocket was top stitched to the bottom. They were then basted to the top and sides of the shorts so they would be held by seams when it was sewn together.

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Under the pockets I cut out 2 ‘speech bubbles’ done in ‘Spot style’ and stamped ‘Where’s Spot’ on one side and ‘I’m hiding’ (one of Squirm’s favourite sayings on the other. I sewed these on, first with a straight stitch, then a very short zig zag. Then I just sewed the rest of the shorts together as normal. I’ve become a real fan of these shorts – there’s a lot you can do with the variations offered and they’re really easy to make up.

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For the shirt, I used the Blank Slate ‘Just a Jersey’ pattern. First, though, I created the end of Spot’s tail to tuck into the yoke of the shirt. I used a scrap of stretch corduroy for the tail, topped with some more fabric from my old shorts. This was backed with the same fabric as the yoke, so it didn’t end up too thick. Then I sewed the neckband onto the yoke and arranged the tail, sewing it on before I added the front and back of the shirt.

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Squirm absolutely loved this outfit. He loves finding Spot’s tail, loves holding up the pockets and was 100% happy to pose for photos. Again, I think I’ve created shorts that will go with a lot of other clothes, but they have a lovely little twist you don’t find in RTW. I’m really looking forward to making more clothes like this even if it’s not Kids Clothes Week.

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Sadly, I won’t finish the last piece I started for KCW before we head away on holidays. It’s partly finished, but needs a neckband and arm bands before it’s complete. I really like it, though, so I’ll make sure to share it when it is complete.

Rules of Summer (Kids Clothes Week: Oct 2014)

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The theme for Kids Clothes Week this season is Storybook, and it’s one I’m embracing whole-heartedly!

Each Christmas we have a tradition of Squirm receiving a book from us, but my husband is the one who chooses it. Last year he chose the (now award winning) Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan – one of our very favourite authors. This is a richly-illustrated, look at relationships between siblings and free time and story telling and I highly recommend it. It’s also one of Squirm’s favourite books.

So, it quickly became an obvious choice for this Kids Clothes Week

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The actual outfit was pretty basic – shorts made from the Clean Slate pattern and a t-shirt from the Tee Times Three pattern, both from Blank Slate Patterns. However my original idea for the t-shirt changed when I started putting together this pile of fabric

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Using red and orange fabric from my stash and orange and red-pink fabric from old clothes of mine, I decided to colour block the front, back and sleeves of the shirt in rough strips. I traced the pattern, drew in cutting lines, then traced it again to include seam allowances. I was absolutely sure I’d made mistakes doing that, but in fact it all came together really nicely. Some of the strips I joined ‘back to front’ so that I’d have the dark overlocking stitches as features. They were then sewn down, extra strips of fabric were added and rows of stitching were included.

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Once I had the pieces all together, it was a pretty simple job of making the shirt. I did sew one sleeve on ‘back to front’ to get the same overlocking feature. All was going incredibly well until I broke my first overlocker needle which meant the neck wasn’t quite as neat as I’d hoped, but it still came together nicely.

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With such a busy shirt, I wanted more subdued pants. I also wanted some shorts which would go with a lot of Squirm’s wardrobe – I’ve felt like we’ve been going a little too ‘novelty’ with some of his shorts these days. I started with this picture:

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I wanted to use the quite subdued colours with the splashes of red. I decided plain shorts, but with red and orange ‘ears’ poking out of one of the pockets. Then on one leg I wanted to include the clothesline and the red sock – which of course started it all . . .

The main issue with the shorts was the fabric. It was scratchy and frayed, so I underlined it with a cotton print. It worked okay, but I would have chosen something with more quality if I’d been buying fabric for this project instead of clearing out my stash.

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I really love these shorts and the little touches which connect them to the book without being in your face.

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Finally, Squirm is old enough for me to get some really good photos. He wanted to walk to the local playground this afternoon, so I dressed him in his new outfit, took advantage of the overcast sky and realised just how much Shaun Tan inspiration you can find in your local suburb. (Warning – the next bit gets really picture heavy – I was overwhelmed with the toddler who’ll let me take photos and the inspiration of Shaun Tan)

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I had an absolute ball making this outfit – I was almost sad when I was done. Shaun Tan writes and illustrates such beautiful books – it was so much fun to be inspired by that.

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How my week looked: October 19

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My week started with a toddler-free trip to Spotlight. My husband was home on Monday (he does FIFO work at the moment) and stayed at home with the toddler so I would have the freedom to hunt down patterns. When I got there I discovered that all the patterns – including Vogue – were on sale for $5 each. And once I used my Spotlight card that came down to $4.50 each. So I splurged a little, got some new shorts to play with, some hat patterns, jeans, blouse and a shirt dress. Lots of fun in store. Plus there were some lovely fabrics in the clearance section which I just had to bring home with me . . .

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My Kids Clothes Week (starting tomorrow!) will be cut a bit short this week because we’re heading away at the end of the week. So I’m only really preparing two outfits and anything else will be a bonus. Going with the Storyteller theme I’ve planned one outfit around Where’s Spot and another around The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. The latter involved every scrap of red or orange knit fabric I had and my son absolutely fell in love with that pile. (If you haven’t read Shaun Tan’s books yet, I recommend getting right onto that!)

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My fabric from the Remnant Warehouse sale arrived. It was pretty, especially the pink and green jersey.

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My sewing plans for the week changed slightly when we were invited to the birthday for a 3 year old girl. I had dreams of making a pretty dress, but I don’t know the girl very well and had to guess her size. Because of that, I decided a knit pattern would be best especially a pair of nice pyjamas and a bag to put them in. The present was very well received and should fit *phew*!

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One final piece of sewing – I finally hemmed my second pair of wearable Thurlow shorts when I realised all my shorts were in the wash. They fit really well, but sadly the fabric pilled where it rubbed together which was deeply annoying. Guess I’ll just have to make more of them . . .

Finally, here’s my lovely Squirm wearing his mum-made-outfit at the party today. It was held at a lovely boat themed park on the Brisbane River and he was terribly excited about all the boats – play and real.

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Have a great week – I’m not sure if I’ll post photos next week or the week after, I’ll see closer to the time. In the meantime, there should be some Kids Clothes Week posts

How My Week Looked: October 12

It’s been a funny week. I finished a couple of things, but nothing I really feel is worth blogging (though, maybe I should talk about the Belcarra Blouse . . . I like it, but I have thoughts)

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I finished up two pairs of (fruit-themed) shorts for Squirm. Fruit themed shorts is definitely what happens when you let your toddler choose the fabric. These are Kids Shorts (with a cloth nappy alteration) from Dana Made and I could probably sew them together in my sleep. I use french seams on all the inside seams for comfort and contrasting fabric inside the pockets.

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I finally finished up my second Belcarra blouse. This is pretty much a wearable muslin and it’s a bit tight at the side. I just used pre-made biased binding for the neck and then added a couple of buttons near the neck for interest.

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Then it was on to making another pair of Thurlow shorts with a few alterations – I still wanted the leg to be longer and a bit thinner and I widened the darts a little. I used a blue drill from my stash and used some patchwork cotton (which I’d bought to make shorts for Squirm) as the lining. (BTW, you can get the lining out of 1/2m of fabric if you cut creatively). I always struggle making darts and pockets with chalk, so I gave tailor’s tacks a go (using the Sewtionary) while watching Gilmore Girls (it’s my first time watching it – avoiding spoilers is hard). The tailor’s tacks worked really well, though I might use a few more loops on the ends of things. I also changed my overlocker thread for the seam finishes.

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Some parts of the making went really well, but others left me a little more ‘meh’ – my standards keep getting higher🙂 I need to go back to my original pattern and play with a few things where I think I’ve become inaccurate with my tracing and altering. I love the pockets though.

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An almost final shot with just hemming to go. The waistband feels much more secure, but I need to play with the legs more – there’s more fabric on the inner legs than I like. I probably need to do some more adjustments in the front as well. The back looks great, but I had a shocker of a time trying to get a bum selfie🙂

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My husband was home from working away at the end of this week, so we went for an adventure into Brisbane City – coffee, play at the Botanic Gardens, raid two bookshops (Folio Books has some GORGEOUS fashion and design books) and massive burgers for lunch. Then yesterday we celebrated his birthday with family and a lopsided very chocolatey cake – nice way to end the week!

How My Week Looked: October 5th

I want to try and share more of my sewing life on the blog. Too often I don’t blog things I make because I haven’t got photos all done nicely. Or I do photos and it’s been so long since I actually made the item, I forget all the making details. So, I thought I might just share some photos each week, some of items, some of sewing. A bit of a glimpse into sewing and my life, I suppose🙂

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I got the waistband onto my Thurlow shorts and got to tent them out properly . . .

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. . . before getting into ‘scary-buttonhole’ territory – which really isn’t that scary . . .

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. . . and I had a pair of finished, wearable shorts (blogged here) which I could wear in the big scary public.

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And I celebrated by taking my son to a usually busy playground. Which was empty. During school holidays. It was strange. (He enjoyed climbing though)

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I played with lengthening and (unsuccessfully) curving the Scout Tee pattern and making it from a rather ‘meh’ feeling Spotlight knit. It works, but I’m not thrilled. I’ll see how I feel after a couple of wears and washes.

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I did learn an important lesson about checking the tension dial after a toddler’s been near your sewing machine, though . . . (unpick, unpick)

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I prewashed some fabric and took advantage of gorgeous weather to hang it

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There was an ongoing discussion about who needed the tape measure more. Apparently it makes a wonderful dance prop

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I organised my patterns finally and cleared all the fabric off the couch in the living room

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And finished up with a little toddler shorts sewing. Fabric chosen by a 2 year old.

So that was my week. Completely normal, but with a real highlight in finishing the shorts and a feeling of ‘phew’ with organising the patterns.