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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