Pattern Review: Butterick 6659 Option F Girls Short Pajama Bottoms

Butterick 6659: I am using Option F, the baby doll PJ bottom.

My daughter likes to wear shorts and a t-shirt to bed.  This year we had plenty of tees, but few PJ bottoms.  To keep her from parading around the house in her unders, I decided to sew up some quick pajama shorts.

Previously I had made a nightgown from this pattern and was on the verge of discarding it, when I thought that it could easily be graded up slightly, (the original being so oversized,) and I might be able to make the panties into shorts by omitting the elastic at the legs.  Why buy a fresh gym shorts pattern when I already had essentially the same thing.

I also had a laundry basket of discarded summer tees.  For once, I had the spare fabric to finally perfect fitting the crotch seams for my daughter – something I can transfer to other patterns. 

The pink shorts are the RTW pair that I want to emulate. The first try at the unaltered pattern is the yellow pair and you can see how much larger they are than the RTW. The yellow pair bagged in the front waist when my daughter tried them on.

Pros:

Though this pattern was cut for a size 5, it easily fit my 6X/7 Slim sized daughter.

Very few seams making it a quick sew.  One for which you soon have a finished project and have not expended a lot of mental attention – perfect for mothers of young children.

One pattern piece along with a cut of elastic.

If you only have five or ten minutes to sew, you will be able to cut and sew this pattern in just a few sessions.

Cons:

If your child is a tricky fit there aren’t a lot of seams to work with.

The pattern sizing – sigh!  Has no one in the industry redesigned children’s patterns to match RTW?  The waistline of this pattern is at the natural waistline while my daughter and her little friends barely know where their waists are located.  They all wear their pants at the navel and I consistently have to adjust children’s patterns to follow suit.  This one is no exception. 

The length of the lower hemline option seems much too long to me.  Again little girls wear their gym-style shorts upper mid-thigh rather than towards the knee.

I didn’t dare try a 4-line stitched elastic waistband as the elastic grows and distorts whenever I try this.

Some Assembly Required:

I sewed the crotch seams, then inserted the elastic waistband.  The original RTW shorts I was copying have a 4-line stitching of the elastic.  I find the elastic grows and stiffens if sewn over so many times, so I settled on the simplest elastic application. 

Fabric:  Old T-shirt fabric.

Finetuning:

Sadly my serger appears to be going kapoot, so I did not serge the seams.  Instead I did a double line of zig-zag stitching.  It isn’t the most professional inside finish, however the material is knit so it won’t ravel.  And old t-shirt knit at that allowing me to more easily justify the simpler finish .

The final pair and how they compare to the original pink RTW. Much better.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes, definitely.  I finally got the pattern adjusted to fit perfectly.  Now I only have to grade up for at least the next two sizes.  

Advice to Others:

I sewed four pairs in all but one has gone missing.

Use an old tee to make the practice muslin if yours are wide enough for the pattern piece.  And if you do use a t-shirt, utilize the RTW hemline for the shorts hemline saving you an extra step and making the garment look more RTW, as I have always found that the standard mechanical machine’s zig-zag stitch does not much resemble a RTW finish.

Overall Style Grade:  Um, A – I guess.  This is such a classic that it hardly seems a style.

Results Grade: A, after you finetune the fit, you will get consistently good results.

My Daughter has Decided that She Isn’t a Ruffly Girl Anymore.

Should she be allowed to do that! 

All on her own. Without any say-so from her mother.  :-0

Here is a pile of patterns ready to donate to the thrift store that are no longer “her”.  “Those aren’t my style, Mommy.  I’m not a ruffly girl anymore.” 

What is wrong with a little ruffle?

And when did she get old enough to have a style?!

 I am not ready to go from this . . .

         to this. . . .

 

 What am I going to sew her now?  The dresses I made her last autumn to fit her this summer – she won’t wear.  Too ruffly, I suppose.

It also means she is growing up.  I love the family years and already feel nostaglic when I see signs she is no longer my itty-bitty girl.

What is a mother to do?

I guess hit a sale at the fabric store and buy more patterns!  Proof that every cloud has a silver lining. 🙂

Getting the Fabric for Free

The price of knit fabric has gone up in my area and the design of many kid knit patterns leans towards the dorky and ill-fitting. (I love you pattern companies – but sorry, it’s true.)  Additionally, children’s patterns are often so oversized that they are unwearable and the contours are not updated to current fashion.   The end product, though well-sewn, can look a little “off” and the kid just won’t wear the garments.  The “off”-ness also screams home-sewn, but not in a good way.

But having some basic knit patterns for kids can be essential.  Kids sleepwear can be as expensive as daywear and I sometimes want to quickly create an easy top or bottom for playtime or to accessorize a more intricate garment. 

That means I need to spend some time customizing some kid knit patterns.  I have chosen these to work with.

Butterick 5510: I am looking at the knit tee and bottom as a source for summer pj’s.

Kwik-Sew 3043: Kwik-Sew usually has such great standard patterns that I actually traced this one hoping to refine a top pattern that I can easily sew in my daughter’s school uniform colors.

Butterick 6659: I have made this before and it is hugely oversized. My daughter who is a 6X can easily wear the size 5. I am looking at making her a few sleeveless nightgowns and using the pants and panties as PJ bottoms.

And I am getting the fabric for free.

From where? 

From here – the great motherload of free fabric.

Our closet.

Summer is such a short season but my family sure runs through the summer clothes.  Between the summer gardening and the summer sweating we manage to grime up quite a bit of our wardrobe each season.   A recent purge of my husband and my closet resulted in the above basket of cast-offs.

I could have thrown them away or made more cleaning cloths, but this year I decided to consider this a source of free material to create practice muslins and summer jim-jams.  With the new baby getting any sewing time has been so hard, but I am hoping that these small projects can be managed.  And if I ruin it, who cares, it was a cast-off tee.

I am looking forward to getting started! 🙂

Pattern Review:McCall’s 5678 Baby Sling Option B

McCall’s 5678 Baby Sling Option B

McCall's 5678 Baby Slings

Option A, the green one the man is wearing, does not look like you can free your hands so I didn’t bother making it.  I have something a friend gave me, a serendipity wrap I believe it is called, it is about twelve feet of bright batik green fabric; if you wrap outdoors the fabric drags on concrete and my husband will not wear it because it the print is too feminine.  (But I included the  link just in case it works for you as it looks really cool on the babywearing site. ) Baby is approaching separation anxiety stage meaning I have to wear him to get anything done.  Option B looks like a rectangle with ties attached and I thought it would work up quickly and allow me to use up some of my stash.   Also my hands could be free at least some of the time.

Pros:

  1. After you make the first sling, you will find ways to shorten the process.
  2. You can make several in different fabrics having fun with various print and color combinations.
  3. It is washable.
  4. It can be adjusted to fit each individual unlike some of the commercial baby carriers where once you have the straps adjusted it is a pain to readjust if you want your husband to carry the baby for awhile.
  5. Your hands can be free some of the time, at least long enough to use a broom or mop.
  6. After you learn the technique it makes a great baby gift, though you will have to teach the recipient how to wear it, and remind her that it can only be used after the baby is 4 months old and can hold up his/her head well.

    Clearly I wasn't prepared for a photograph and I had to hold the camera at a strange angle but you can see the denim sling and that it does safely hold a baby.

Cons:

  1. Looks are deceiving.  This is not a beginner project.
  2. The instructions make it take longer than need be.
  3. The body is sewn like a pillow right sides together. On the final sew-around all four straps plus the padded top are shoved to the inside and keeping all of that stuff out of your line of seaming can be tricky.
  4. Babies have strong opinions on their slings, and you could spend the time making it to find your baby hates it.  My firstborn hated every sling we tried, but I had not used one like this which resembles a mei tai sling. (Here are some photos of that type.)
  5. You cannot bend forward with this sling.  You must bend at the knee with your back straight.  This is tiresome when doing certain household chores.

Some Assembly Required:

The instructions have you baste the fleece onto the straps before completing them.  Do it per the instructions the first time, but after that an intermediate sewer will quickly see how it can be done in one pass.

I took the extra time and basted the fleece onto the body both times as it is several layers of sewing on this piece. 

After inserting straps and padded top, create a double line of seaming topstitch the straps down inside the body for extra strength.

Fabric:

The body can be a bit stiffer than the straps but regular cotton will also do.  I recommend quilting cotton for the straps as you will be tying these and will need some pliability. I used denim and batik for the first sling, and a fanciful quilting cotton for the second.

The second sling in fun fabric. I forget who gave me this fabric with a print of dogs posing as cowboys but this is the only use I can imagine using it for.

Finetuning:

I used some of my stash for these two slings, but finding yardage long enough for the straps was a bit hard.  You can piece the straps towards the ends, but I would want one solid piece near the body.

Will I Sew it Again:

Maybe.  Depends on how long these two last.  I have a friend who is pregnant and I hope it is a little girl as I am dying to make one of these up in coordinating girlie pink fabrics. 🙂

Advice to Others:

You must give me grace because the baby kept hitting the camera though it wasn't quite this blurry on my digital screen. Hopefully you can still see my mistake where the red doesn't quite meet up with the blue. I should have taken more care in pinning and cleaning up the edges of my strap.

Remember after you sew the straps to tidy up the edges or you may have some skips in your seaming because your stitch line just missed the fabric edge. 

Mark the top of the body because once you take off the pattern you won’t be able to figure it out.  It is a little counterintuitive but the smaller end goes on bottom, so the baby’s legs can stick out, and the larger side goes on top to surround the baby at the shoulder.

If you have a post-partum abdominal separation (diastis recti) or weak upper back muscles you must remember to pull your shoulders back and down, and your bellybutton up and in when wearing the sling.  Check out Julie Tupler,  a physical therapist who helps pregnant and post-partum women get back into shape and reduce their bellies.  She warns that care must be used when wearing front carry baby slings.

 Overall Style Grade:  A, This could be very cute, especially if you bought some designer quilting cotton.

Results Grade: A, for advanced beginners or beyond.  If I were new to sewing I might find it a bit frustrating.

At What Age Did You Begin Sewing?

My daughter's sewing machine which I have been "borrowing" for the past two years.

I was nine, in third grade, when I began my first machine sewing project.  It was a tank top made of some horrible polyester and had facings, a term and technique that really bemused me, because as a nine-year-old I could not for the life of me see where these funny curved things had a face.  Much of my learning to sew has gone along these lines.  And I vowed to myself that I would teach my daughter so she wouldn’t have to undergo the agonies of the self-taught.

After my daughter’s first experience with machine sewing she decided to take a break.  A few years have passed and she is now seven and feels she is ready to face the machine again.   This is her first project completed with supervision.  (I serged the inside seams.)

Here are the photos.  She took the pictures.  They are very blurry but she was so proud of her pillow I told her I would post the photos.  

Little mermaid on one side.

 

 

Angelina on the other side.

 

 

Hello Kitty ribbons to close pillowcase.

I am curious.  Not only how old were you when you began sewing, but how much help did you receive?

I received very little help and it has left me unsure how to teach sewing to a young girl.  A family member helped me when she could but it was not often that I was at her home.  4-H at the time was not offering  much hands-on instruction in sewing, at least that was my experience.   Most of the easy sewing projects I can imagine for my daughter would he half her work, and half mine, for them to come out successfully.  If the sewing isn’t strong enough to withstand use, she won’t be able to enjoy her completed projects, and I fear she won’t want to continue sewing.   I don’t want her discouraged with poor results, but I also want her to own her victories when a project comes out well.

Did you have someone to lean on, or are you mainly self-taught?  If you had a teacher, how did your teacher go about teaching sewing?

Top Knit Picks for Spring/Summer 2012

Taking it easy on sewing lately due to baby care.  Though I am sorely tempted to try out those pattern sales, I do feel that I have enough patterns at home and that I should withstand the temptation to purchase some patterns that I might not have time to make.

So here are the picks from the pattern stash. 

Simplicity 3790

I have made both the surplice and the yoked top before.  Here is the review of the surplice which I have decided looks deplorable on me no matter how well fitted.  But the little swingy top flatters me and I still have my wearable muslin which I have worn to bits.

Simplicity 2283

And I have made the vest of this pattern but not the tops.  Definitely sewing the vest again.  I looked for my previous review but could not find it.  The top looks cute but I wonder how much time it will take.

There they are.  Unusual for me to only have two patterns in the offing but it is kind of refreshing to have just a few designs to focus on.  As Sister from Dr. Fun Living la vida loca commented on my last post, the anticipation is half the fun. 

Now I can enjoy rooting through the fabric stash and see what can be found there. 🙂

Crazy Ugly Dog Blankets

A basket of sheeting scraps from practice muslins and one of those stiff fleece blankets from the 80's.

Sometimes I like a bit of what I call “unskilled sewing.”   At least it looks unskilled when I do it.

Right now I can’t imagine getting involved in a detailed project as I am constantly interrupted by the baby.  But I want to sew. 

Rooting through my stuff I found this basket of scraps from my practice muslins.  Often I make random household stuff out of this material and after seeing the dog shivering in her bin once winter set in, I decided to do some dog blankets.

Now let me tell you – my dog chews.  A bad habit.  But in this instance very freeing for me.

Combining some of Eleanor Burns’ Log Cabin quilt technique  with  the “Quilt as You Go” method and adding in some Paper Piecing ideas I came up with these truly crazy ugly dog blankets.

One Crazy Ugly Dog Blanket. Now there are several more where this came from and I have a tidy little pile of blankets for the dog's delight.

Totally freeform sewing.  Whatever fabric piece I reach for first is the one I use.  Not bothering to match thread, I use up my spare bobbins and leftover thread spools. If I get the seam right, wonderful, if not, so be it.  If the batting is a parallelogram rather than a rectangle, I don’t bother squaring the angles.

My dog enjoys adding some cotton fiber to her diet.

The goal – nothing wasted.  The attitude – who cares what it looks like.  The caveat – the dog may chew it anyway.

Hakuna Matata sewing – no worries.  It has been a lot of fun.  Stuff that was once only clutter around my house has been brought into use.   The blankets are admittedly ugly, but the dog has already begun her chewing.

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