School Bus T-shirt Review

This is continuing the theme of t-shirts that are long enough to cover my daughter’s upper body.  Given that it has been 90 degrees for the last few days, these were made last fall when it was still cold.  If she needed short sleeve shirts for summer, I would make this pattern again.  The School bus t-shirt is a simple pattern that will be in use for a long time.

Pattern: School Bus T-Shirt from Oliver and S

School Bus T-shirt

Pattern Description (from designer): This basic kid’s T-shirt sewing pattern can be made several different ways. With a long-sleeve and two short-sleeve options, you’ll get endless use from this easy and quick-to-sew style.

Pattern Retail Price: $8.95

Fabric Required: 3/4 yard for up to size 8

Amount of fabric used: I got away with about 1/2 yard, would be less for short sleeves.

School Bus Tee

Sizing: Comes in 6 month to 4 years, then the next size range is 5 years to 12 years.  I made a 2T based on chest measurements with 4T length.

Alterations: I added another inch to the second one because the length on the first one was perfect for now.

Instructions: This is a simple shirt, but the instructions are detailed and have enough information for someone who has never made a t-shirt before.

Pattern Issues: None.  I had to add a lot of length, but I have to do that to all patterns and store bought shirts are too short.

Fabric Choice: I used pink thermal and deer thermal that I bought from Nature’s Fabric last year.  I had a yard of each, and made a long sleeve shirt last winter and this winter from them.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I have enough useable scraps to keep using these fabrics.  I should buy more of the deer while it’s in stock, because she loved it.

School Bus Tee

Finished Product: The school bus t-shirt is a cute, simple tee that is long enough to wear in public (because I can make it longer!).

Notes for future makes: Add more length –  4T + 1″

Final Thoughts: I’m happy to have a simple t-shirt pattern to use until she hits size 12.

 

2+2 Blouse Pattern Review

My daughter thinks that dinosaurs are awesome, and loves purple.  Luckily, Lizzy House made this amazing purple dinosaur fabric while she is in this phase!

2+2 Blouse

Pattern: Oliver & S 2+2 Blouse

Pattern Description (from designer): Here comes the school bus! Girl’s tunic-length, A-line blouse features neckband ties, gathered front with applied patch, and button back, options for long and short sleeves.

Pattern Retail Price: $13.95

Fabric Required: 1 yard for 2T, view A

2+2 Blouse

Amount of fabric used: I was happy I had the full yard because I wanted to make sure the dinosaurs lined up.

Sizing: 6 months – 8 years

Alterations: I added extra length so she can wear it longer.

Instructions: Mostly easy to follow.  The gathering in the front was a little confusing the first time I did it because I was having trouble picturing what fabric was ending up covered versus needing to be finished.  It’s not quite as neat as I would like, but next time I make this I’ll be fine.

2+2 Blouse

Pattern Issues: None

Fabric Choice: This is a quilting cotton, which works well for this pattern.  Does it get better than purple dinosaurs?  Not for my purple-loving, dinosaur obsessed daughter!

2+2 Blouse

Finished Product: This shirt is adorable.  My daughter is not quite sure what she should do with the ties though.  Sometimes she ignores them, some days she pulls on them continuously.

Notes for future makes: Add more length.  I think I made it 2T with 4T length, and I wish I had added a little more length so she can wear it longer.

Final Thoughts: I wasn’t sure how my daughter was going to feel about the buttons all the way down the back, but she doesn’t seem to even notice them.  This is a cute shirt, and even though it’s a bit of work, it’s adorable and I want to make it again.

From the Bookshelf: The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

This Spring, I had the opportunity to view a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting prior to its release.  Both Angela Walters and Christa Watson are incredibly talented quilters, so I was very excited to see their book with tips on both sit-down and long-arm quilting.

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting cover

Photo credit: Brent Kane and Martingale

I have to admit, I was initially a bit skeptical that a book split in half aimed at both long-arm and sit-down quilters could truly have enough information that was applicable to both types of quilters to make it valuable to everyone, but these ladies have figured out a way to do it.  The fills and designs that they use are almost universally applicable (except for the spiral design Christa uses on the Exploding Star quilt – that is too much of a hassle for a longarm!).

As I was reading though this book, I was quilting “Forging Steel”, and used it as an opportunity to try out some of their suggestions.  Angela is well known for her point-to-point quilting, and she shows a couple examples of it in the book. I used it in one of the blocks for my quilt as well, although you can see it far better on the back of the quilt.

Forging Steel Milliefleur

I also used the wavy lines for another block.

Forging Steel Milliefleur

I like the clamshell design, so it’s not new to me, but it was a good reminder to see it as an option.

Forging Steel Miloliefleur

In addition to numerous quilting designs, there are also 10 quilt patterns.  They are generally simple, because they are meant to be quicker to sew so you can get them pieced and start practicing quilting faster.  I can definitely see myself making one of these patterns in the future if I need a quick baby quilt.

You can see some of the quilting better on the back of the quilt!  Busy fabric tends to hide dense quilting.

Forging Steel Milliefleur

I don’t always agree with all advice given in the book – Christa presses her seams open, and I am a devoted press to the side quilter, but I know that is an age old argument so I won’t hold it against her.

Overall, this was a good quilting book.  I would say it is aimed a more of a beginner-intermediate level quilter, so if you are a masterpiece quilter you will probably not get very much out of this book unless you want to learn more about the modern style of quilting.  If you are starting out, I think this is a great resource because they do a really good job of making quilting accessible, and challenging you to do some free motion quilting instead of just straight lines.

If you are interested in the Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, it is available from Christa, Angela, their publisher, Amazon, etc.

Eleanor Dress

This winter I was really tired of buying shirts for my daughter that were too short, so I made several shirts and dresses for her that are long enough for her to not immediately grow out of.  I had made a previous version of the Eleanor Dress pattern as a shirt, but can’t find a picture of it – despite the fact that she wore it all last winter!  I really like the dress version of this pattern.

Pattern: Eleanor Dress from Shwin Designs

Eleanor Dress

Pattern Description (from designer): Everyone loves a knit dress, comfy and easy to wear. The pattern also has the option for a top. This knit dress pattern comes with many options to create simple by stylish knit dresses. From an oversized collar to ribbing at the neck, long or short sleeves and every combination of them all. This one pattern will take you through many seasons and with the sizes 12m-8years included it will take you through many years of wear.

Pattern Retail Price: $9 for PDF

Fabric Required: 3/4 yard for 2T

Amount of fabric used: I was using leftover fabric from another project so I don’t know exactly what I had, but the amount seems accurate.

Sizing: Includes 12 months to 8 years.  My daughter’s chest was in the 2T range, and that’s what I made and I am pleased with the fit.  Due to the stretch of the fabric, she is still wearing this dress even though she is now wearing 3T and slim-fit 4Ts in RTW.

Alterations: I made this exactly as designed.

Instructions: They are step by step instructions with a photo for each step.  The samples are in a solid color so it is easy to see what is happening, and I like that the short sleeve and long sleeve samples were in different colors so I skip the instructions that didn’t apply to the version I was making.

Pattern Issues: None.

Fabric Choice: I used an athletic fabric that I bought from Fabric Mart last year on a super sale.  I think it’s meant for leggings, but it makes a really cozy shirt/dress.

Eleanor Dress
Finished Product: This dress is cute.  My daughter loves the pockets.

Notes for future makes: Baste the pleats down prior to sewing the skirt to the bodice.

Final Thoughts: I will probably make the short sleeved version again as it warms up.  It’s a cute dress that my daughter didn’t want to take off after trying it on to make sure it fit.  Now that she is getting into the “dresses are the best” phase, she likes it even more!  I like it because it is a dress that she can still run around with her friends in.

 

Afternoon Blouse Pattern

Pattern: The Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Vintage

Afternoon Blouse

Pattern Description (from designer): An easy summer blouse perfect for afternoons sipping tea (or cocktails), the Afternoon Blouse has been designed with beginners and advanced sewers in mind.  For the beginner, the flowing design will help to build sewing confidence with its choice of two decorative necklines and 1940s-inspired kimono sleeves. For the advanced sewer, this gorgeous blouse can be made in one afternoon using silk or rayon – a luxurious, quick and satisfying make.  While the Afternoon Blouse has been designed to be tucked into high-waisted skirts and pants for a vintage look, it also works perfectly worn loose with jeans and sandals for the modern gal, making it a truly versatile blouse.

Purchase Price: Full price is $12.50 US, but she had a sale after Thanksgiving.

Fabric Required: Oddly specific… 1.58 yards of 60″ or 1.66 yards of 45″.  I would say the conversion from metric to US is why it is so specific, but the metric also goes out to 2 weird decimal places.

Amount of fabric used: I squeezed it out of 1.5 yards of 44″ wide material.  One of my facings had some imaginative cutting done to do so.

Sizing: I used a 16 for the shoulders (closer to my high bust measurement), then went out to an 18 at the bottom of the sleeves for my bust size, then came back in to a 16 for the hips.  It was really big in the waist/hip area, so I had to take it in some more.  It’s also a little bit shorter than I prefer my blouses.

  • There are no finished measurements, so I had to go off the size chart.  I guess I need to start measuring pattern pieces, but it annoys me to pay good money for a pattern then have to measure pieces of paper to decide what size to wear.  Anyway, the size chart recommended with my measurements to do an 18 bust, 20 waist, and 14 hips.  If I had done that, the shoulders would have been way too big and the waist way too big.

Alterations: Once I tried it on after sewing up the side seams, it was way too loose in the waist/hip area.  I took off the blouse and decided to trace the side seams off my favorite Belcarra Blouse.  That reduced the sizing from an 18 in the bust, to a 16 at the waist and 14 at the hip.  This helped immensely, but I still need to fix the tenting effect in the front of the shirt.

Afternoon Blouse

Instructions: The instructions are good.  This was the designer’s first pattern.  Most of my issues with the instructions are my personal preferences from sewing different patterns by different designers.

  • I personally prefer to hem the sleeve after I sew up the sides to avoid any interior seams showing, but doing it first does make it easier to iron.  I think the best solution is to iron the seamline early, then sew after the sides are done.
  • I also under stitched the neckline.  It was a little tough at the corners, but it really helped my blouse lay flat and keep the insides where they belong.  I think every pattern on earth, especially ones aimed at beginners should mention that step.  I think at the end, there may be a step (step 3 in the “To Make Up” section) that hints at under stitching, but it would be hard that late into the blouse.  It also mentions top stitching as an option, which I don’t think would look very good on this blouse.
  • Printing: I did like that the pieces were tiled so that I only had to print off the pattern for the front that I was using.  On a larger pattern, I would probably prefer some more overlapping to save paper, but on a blouse like this I really appreciated not having to print every single option.

Pattern Issues: Why does it not include finished measurements?!?!  I keep getting tempted by cute patterns without finished measurements.  I know it’s harder to do the bust measurement with kimono sleeves, but at least give me the waist and hip finished measurements so I don’t have to take the shirt in after I’ve already made it…

Afternoon Blouse

Fabric Choice: I used a wonderful 100% cotton lawn by Yuwa.  This stuff feels amazing.  It washes up beautifully, and I admit to googling the brand in an attempt to find more.  It’s that perfect lightweight cotton that isn’t completely see-through like voile, yet substantial enough that you can actually wear it outside of the house without worrying if your bra is showing through the fabric.  The one I purchased from Imagine Gnats appears to be out of stock, but Fancy Tiger and Miss Matabi seem to stock Yuwa regularly.

The other consideration is whether or not you want the neckline detail to show.  I love this fabric, but it is so busy you can’t see that aspect of the shirt.  A solid or plainer design would show that much more.

Finished Product: I like the neckline and kimono sleeves.  I am probably going to end up with way too many blouses with kimono sleeves, but I like them.  I can see making this shirt again, and maybe trying the other neckline option.

Afternoon Blouse

Notes for future makes:

  • Make a swayback adjustment.  Just make one in every single pattern you will ever consider sewing in your entire life.  You know you need it, so don’t be lazy and just do it!
  • Also, add a couple inches to the length.  I’m a shorty, but I have a long torso and a short human to chase around, and I like my middle to be covered.
  • It has a weird tent like effect in the front.  None of the pictures of other people’s versions seem to do this, so I’m not sure why mine is.  I think I will add a dart next time to take in some of that excess.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I like this blouse and plan to make it again with a couple fit adjustments.

Oliver & S Fairy Tale Dress Review

My first Fairy Tale Dress was almost a year ago, and I adjusted it to make my daughter’s baptismal gown.  At that time, I was still pretty new to garment sewing.  I think it was my third dress ever.  I chose to go from the Made by Rae Itty Bitty Dress, to the Made by Rae Geranium Dress, to the Oliver & S Fairy Tale Dress.  It was a pretty big learning curve.  Now that I have actually sewn the pattern as written, I feel better about writing a Fairy Tale Dress pattern review.

Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress

I have to say I was much more confident this time than I was last time.  Although, last time I had the advantage of ignorance – I didn’t know enough to know that I had chosen a challenging pattern with silk and “scary” invisible zippers.  If I had realized what I was doing was supposed to be harder, I don’t know if I would have finished it so quickly.

Pattern: Oliver & S Fairy Tale Dress

Fabric Required: From pattern (44-45″ wide): 1 3/4 yards of main fabric, and 1 yard of lining fabric.

Amount of fabric used: A little under 1 yard of main fabric (52″ wide), and a little under 1 yard of lining fabric.  If anyone has a use for just over a yard of silver silk dupioni, please let me know!

Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress

Sizing: I used the 12-18 month size for width, 18-24 month size for bodice length, and I added 2 inches to the 18-24 month skirt length to make it mid-calf instead of knee length.

Alterations: I had to lengthen the front of the bodice by 1/2″.  I just added the 1/2″ to the middle and tapered it to the normal length at the sides.  It was a small change, but helped fit over the toddler belly a little bit better.  I also tacked the collar down because it was flipping up too much for my taste when she tried it on pre-wedding.

  • Sash: I didn’t want to use either version of the sash as published in the pattern.  I was hoping to have my daughter wear this for Christmas so I didn’t want to sew the sash to the dress.  I liked the wide sash in the back, but sometimes the super wide sashes on the front of a dress overwhelms little girls.  I decided to use the pattern pieces for the back, but sew it to a narrower portion for the front of the dress.

Instructions: As expected with Oliver & S, these were good instructions.  I did use couple additional tutorials shown below.

Tutorials Used:

    • How to hand stitch a hem – I used the slipstitch to hem the outer dress.  I don’t hand sew many things, but it felt right for this dress.

Hand sewing silk hem

Pattern Issues: The only step that I had any issues with was attaching the zipper to the dress exterior.  In some of the diagrams it showed the seam finished, in others it wasn’t, and it didn’t mention in the directions the right time to finish the seam.  I was using a serger to finish the seams and chose poorly, because I should have finished that back seam before attaching the zipper.  I ended up serging from the bottom as close as I could to the zipper.  The rest of it gets encased in the lining.  This dress won’t be going through a washing machine, so it will probably be fine.

Although, I do have to add – why is there not a table with the width of the skirts for each size?  I hated having to print out 8 extra pieces of paper for the three skirt pieces when I knew I was just going to cut the skirt as one continuous piece.  This skirt doesn’t need side seams.  It makes it slightly easier to line stuff up, but as long as you mark where the side seams would have been there is not issue lining up the skirt to the bodice.

Fabric Choice:

– Outer: I used silk dupioni from NY Fashion Center Fabrics in 137 – Silver.  I was fortunate that they had a Labor Day sale that lowered the price point when I needed to order it.

– Tulle: I also ordered the gray tulle from NY Fashion Center Fabrics in the same sale.

– Lining The lining was a cheap voile from Fabric Mart that appears to be out of stock now.  I was too cheap, and should have used a better quality voile (even though it would have cost more).  It looks fine in the finished garment, but it was so thin that it was horrendous to sew and I was fighting it the whole time.  I think Tim Gunn has a quote that a successful garment starts at Mood, and he is so right.  I thought I had learned my lesson on cheap vs. good value fabric, but I’m still learning it over and over.

Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress

Finished Product: I love this dress as a party dress for a little girl.  The color isn’t the best color for my daughter’s complexion, but she was the flower girl for a wedding whose colors were grey and blue.  I only had 1/2 yard of the matching blue fabric, so I used that to make the sash.

Husband’s opinion: He loves this dress.

Final Thoughts: This is my second time making this dress, and I will probably make it again if another fancy occasion comes up.  I may have to use a different collar or something next time so people don’t realize I keep using the same pattern over and over!

Linking up to: Sew + Show Wednesday @ Straight GrainShow off Saturday at Sew Can SheThreading your way @ Threading my Way

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