The New Sewing, part 2.

So, my sewing fervor is still in full swing and I have three new products to show & tell: two for me, one for the babe. They are a step up in complexity from the pjs (patterns! patterned fabric! lining! buttons!), but I stayed true to my rules and finished them as nicely as I could. I’ve decided to keep a scorekeeping record of my projects on a scale of 1 – 10 for future reference, making a note about things to fix next time around. So far, the scorecard looks something like this:

1. Knit longsleeve baby shirts: 7 / 10
need to use thicker ribbing, make general fit and neckline larger, and find a way to finish the ends of the serged seams

2. Knit baby leggings: 8 / 10
make waistband higher, make elastic a little tighter than I think it needs to be, and find a way to finish the ends of the serged seams

I have three new projects to add to the list, and I’ll start with the most complex:

3. Anna Maria Horner “Four Corners Nursing Top”: 6 / 10

This top is modified from the pattern in Anna Maria‘s awesome new book Handmade Beginnings. There are some really nice maternity and baby patterns in it, but the thing that first caught my eye was that she actually took the time to design a few tops for breastfeeding women. Genius! As someone who has been needing to find clothing with, um, access for 11.5 months now, I can tell you that there is a serious shortage of cute nursing gear. I feel like I’m on my way to the office in most button-front shirts and while knit shirts are usually better, you run the risk of flashing someone with a bit of blindingly white postpartum tummy. Which is about as attractive as it sounds.

Anyhow, I didn’t follow the pattern in the book exactly: I decided to join a lot of the little pieces in the front so that I ended up with just two big pieces, the band/yoke at the top and the gathered fabric at the bottom, mostly because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to match my print up exactly. I also reduced the gathering in the front and lengthened it a bit. It’s hard to tell, but the thing that makes this a nursing top is that front is basically one big panel that can be lifted up on either side since it lays on top of two side panels that wrap around you pretty securely. I reduced the gathering on the side panels as well since they can add rather a lot of bulk unless your fabric is quite thin.

[And now we come to the awkward I-need-to-take-a-photo-of-myself-in-this-shirt shots. You know, where I set up the tripod, try to settle on a not-too-dorky expression, fiddle with my new remote (which, incidentally, is MUCH nicer than setting the timer and sprinting toward the wall), and contemplate how much I need a haircut. Seeing photos of yourself is always a helpful boost to the humility levels, right?]

The front (okay).

Aha, I forgot that I also made another big modification. The front panel has to have something to keep it from fluttering up and in the original pattern it’s a set of ties. I happen to not care for ties, however. Whether you tie them in a knot or a bow, they always leave a lump in your sweater and are uncomfortable to lean back on. So I made the side ties thicker and much shorter and added a third one that wraps around that back and connects at the sides with buttons. Presto! Problem solved.

The back (good).

Alas, I am afraid that the back side is the cutest part of the shirt. Keeping rule no. 4 in mind (“make sure that the fabric is appropriate to the project and a wearable print”), I picked this totally cute Anna-Maria-meets-Jonathan-Adler cotton print out at Joann’s while it was on sale for $3.50/yard. I thought that the fabric was thin and just a teeny bit drapey, but evidently I was wrong.

The side (ugh).

I will be the first person to admit that I do not have a flat stomach, but it doesn’t stick out this much. Either I should have completely eliminated the gathers under the placket, used a much drapier fabric, or both.

I spent a long time matching up the pieces.

It pains me to say this after having spent a ridiculous amount of time carefully matching up the pattern on all my pieces, but I think this one is going in the maternity box.

At least I have a new maternity shirt to look forward to, right? (In addition to another baby.)

4. The Eugenia Kim cloche: 8 / 10

I have a little problem with hats. I often see such cute ones at the store (Liberty had some adorable sunhats at Target), but it seems that I have an enormous head because hats that aren’t stretchy very rarely fit me. One day, it occurred to me that I could actually do something about this problem and sew my own.

The Eugenia Kim + Denyse Schmidt hat.

This sunhat was based on the basic cloche pattern in Eugenia Kim’s Saturday Night Hat, a copy of which was kindly sent to me by a friend. To make sure that it fit my giant noggin, however, I measured my head, divided by six, added my seam allowances, and adjusted the pattern accordingly. Oh, and I made a muslin. As a result, the fit is quite precise albeit a bit perky at the very top.

The top side is made from some polka dot Denyse Schmidt fabric from my stash and the underside is unbleached linen. The linen makes the hat a little floppier than I wanted, but since it’s a pretty beachy-looking thing I decided that’s okay.

Almost...but not quite.

Once again, I worked hard to match up the prints and I *almost* did it.  I give this an 8 / 10 for the floppiness factor and minor fit issues, but I plan to make it again out of a stiff wool for the winter and I think everything will be solved then.

Home-sewn shirt + hat.

6. Oliver + S ruffled halter: 10 / 10

I saved the best for last because I looooooove this shirt. I have been wanting to try an Oliver + S pattern for a while and am saving up for the Ice Cream Dress. In the meantime, this pattern came with the last issue of Stitch magazine, which was available at Joann’s (where I happened to have a 40% coupon and a gift card…with me, proximity and price almost always win out in the end).

Oliver + S ruffled halter.

There was one catch, however: the pattern is sized from 18 mo/2T up to a 12, but I wanted it to fit an 11 mo baby. So I cut out the pieces in the 18 mo size and then pinched 2 inches from the main body, 2 inches from the top ruffle, 3 inches from the middle ruffle, and 4 inches from the bottom one. (You could just cut it, but the pattern is a download and I’m lazy and don’t want to print it out all over again when she’s two.)

On the model.

And as a result…it fits perfectly!

The back has elastic for a nice, trim fit and an adorable tie at the nape of the neck.

So cute from the back!

I initially wasn’t so keen on the halter idea, but I just love seeing her little white shoulders. I want to eat them.

A cascade of ruffles.

The ruffles are all cut on the bias, which give them a nice drape and means that you don’t need to hem them.

This project was so successful (in my mind, at least) that it has been banished to the closet until her first birthday party, which is coming up soon.

If it gets a stain on her birthday, at least I will feel like it was for a good cause.

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4 thoughts on “The New Sewing, part 2.

  1. The halter is so cute! I’m a little befuddled by the top myself – the shape seems kind of boxy, even for a maternity top. Maybe in a really lightweight fabric and if I pulled out the pattern pieces and looked them over. Even the Mariposa I’m not sure about, but I’m thinking of making it in a knit? We’ll see.

  2. I’ve thought about making the Four Corners top in a knit as well and I think it would be a lot less poofy. The gathering over the stomach should really be left out, though…I don’t know how it’s going to be flattering on anybody. The Mariposa is really cute but I can tell that I would need to take the shoulders and bust in for it to fit me. If you make any of the patterns up, post a link. I’d love to see how they turn out!

  3. I was toying with the idea of making the four corners top but wondered if it would feel too maternity-ish. I agree with you. Leave out the gathers in the front. You confirmed that I should probably stick the sewing for the girls since pretty much anything I make them fits.

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