Christmas Gift Time: Kwik Sew 3935 x 3

Kwik Sew 3935

It looks like my orna-mints (mints, haha, get it?) got me in the Christmas mood after all.

Last year I made dresses for each of my cousins, all girls, all under the age of 10. They really liked them, although I think one of the dresses might have been a tad tight. I’m not sure how much wear they got out of them ’cause kids grow so fast but whatevs. I’d rather make clothes than try to buy princess toys.

One of my cousins even asked if I could make her a pageant dress (apparently they do pageants now, I’m going to try not to think of Toddlers and Tiaras…) but I’ll have to save that until later. That would require a lot more work and fitting.

This year I made it easier on myself. I made all three dresses from the same pattern, Kwik Sew 3935.

Kwik Sew 3935

One problem with not having my own kids is that I am lacking in models. So if you want to see what this dress ought to look like on real children you can see the Kwik Sew website.

Kwik Sew 3935

I traced each pattern, ’cause I’m a tracer now, not a cutter, and also ’cause I didn’t want to buy three copies of this pattern… ahem… in a M, S and halfway between a XXS and XS.

And I made every dress out of knit which is good ’cause I didn’t have to finish any edges on the elastic casings.

Kwik Sew 3935

The green sparkly knit is from Joann or Hancock, can’t really remember. The other two are both from Girl Charlee.

Kwik Sew 3935

I thought this design was pretty cute. There’s elastic in every opening and in the kangaroo pockets. It has raglan sleeves and a slightly hi-lo hem (why, how trendy). The pattern also comes with some leggings.

Kwik Sew 3935

Obviously it’s going to be difficult to judge the fit without the girls wearing them but these dresses are loose enough that I probably won’t have to worry about them being too small. Plus, as they grow taller they can use these dresses more like tunics and wear them with leggings or jeans.

Are you sewing any holiday presents this year?

A Monster Quilt in more ways than one, McCall 6411

Let me preface this post: Greta, if you or your children or husband are reading this – look away! And to make sure you get the chance to leave here is a cute photo of my cat, Peanut.

Ok, now that that’s over we can move on to business – this Monster quilt. It is both a “monster” because it features cute fuzzy monsters but also because of the monster amount of time and energy put into this thing.

McCall 6411

I don’t often sew quilts. Ok, I’ve only even finished like, what, 3 in my whole life??? But I saw this pattern (McCalls 6411) in the crafts section of the pattern catalogue at the store and thought “Hey, this would be so cute for my nephews!” They’re all under the age of 7 so a fun monster blanket would be good for them, right?

Oh, famous last words!

McCall 6411

I began this adventure in November of last year and it’s only been, let me count… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, April – SIX MONTHS!?! I know that intricately pieced quilts take quite a long time but I never imagined that something like this would take forever!

I worked on bits and pieces of the quilt every week or so until I’d get tired and frustrated. I had to sew on each felt eye, pupil, tooth, and scale. I had to hand stitch mouths and decorative spots with embroidery thread. I stuffed tails and horns and legs with poly-fill. And then I had to attach each monster to its base (some better than others) and add borders.

McCall 6411

Finally I had the quilt top finished but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I attempted sandwiching the batting between both layers and quilting.

Finally I decided to hand stitch the sides of the quilt closed because I didn’t want any visible seams. I think that was roughly 14 feet of slip stitching! I seriously spent hours non-stop hand sewing. If it wasn’t for listening to audiobooks I would have gone mad!

McCall 6411

Anyway, I’m glad this monster of a quilt is finished. Next time I’ll try to go the more traditional route sans-fleece (the fleece makes the blanket super warm, though). Although I think I’ve had my fill of quilting for quite awhile now!

McCall 6411

I’ve sewn with fleece before but never this much at once. Here are some things I learned this go around.

Dixie’s Tips for Sewing Fleece:

  • Use weights and a rotary cutter to get a precise cut. For smaller bits like monster feet and ears I used scissors as it didn’t matter if things weren’t perfectly square.
  • Have a lint roller handy. The fuzzy fleece shed like crazy on the cut edges and even the blizzard fleece left dust all over. All that fuzz will end up in your machine, too, so be sure to brush out or vacuum inside your sewing machine when you finish.
  • While you could sew through several layers without a walking foot, I highly recommend using one because fleece can get thick! Thank you to my boyfriend’s mom for gifting me one for Christmas last year. I’ve gotten so much use out of it on both quilting and regular sewing projects.
  • Fleece is a knit so use a ball point needle of the appropriate size. I read that fleece can wear out your needle extra fast. I found this to be the case and had to change needles a few times during the project because the needle would break or skip stitches. Frustrating!
  • I like using a longer stitch length. I think it helps to move the fleece under the foot better. I used a straight stitch for my quilt since the seams don’t need to stretch.
  • There are many types of fleece, some more stretchy than others. For example, the fuzzy fleece that has a pile on one side and a flat side on the other was more stretchy than my thick blizzard fleece.
  • If you use the textured fuzzy fleece with the raised dots, don’t iron it. I expected those dots to be permanent but they were not! Ooops. I found this out when using the crafty-fuse, double sided interfacing to attach the eyes to one monster as you can see in the photo below.
McCall 6411

If you have more tips to add leave them in the comment section, thanks!

I was out of town this weekend for the Easter holiday but now I’m back and I have a bunch of projects to get started on. Exciting!

Sewing For Boys Book Review

I don’t really sew for children. Ok, I’ve made like four things and a couple quilts. But I liked this new book so much that I thought I’d review it. I know not every reader here has kids or sews for kids but if you’re interested please continue reading!

There aren’t many good clothes sewing patterns out there for little one, especially boys (not counting Oliver+S, which have super cute designs). Now, I know there are plenty of patterns for little girls, many from smaller companies but most of them have a problem – they’re uber-cutesy.

(sorry, pink fig)

I’m talking patchwork pattern catastrophes like one above (Good God! Why so many ruffles?! Ruffles on the legs, why!?! Make it stop!) which is just an excuse to use as much ridiculous quilting cotton as humanly possible. And I mean, really, what 7 year old would wear that? It looks like Raggedy Ann got in a fight with a bag of jelly beans.

I feel like the guy in those Dos Equis commercials only my tagline at the end would be “I don’t always sew for children, but when I do I prefer them not to look like clowns.”

My sincerest apologies for your children if you like sewing designs like those. If it makes you happy, go for it!

Anyway, this is supposed to be a book review not a rant so the point to all of this is to say that what I like about boy related sewing is that it rarely turns into a candy colored mess of crazy. With boys they get to dress like miniature men only a little more stylish because you can get away with shapes and fabrics and designs that a grown man might veer away from. Boy sewing can be really modern and stylish while the only thing juvenile is the male wearing the clothes.

Which is why I like this new book, simply titled, Sewing for Boys by Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage (who are also awesome kids pattern designers)

The book is organized with a little introduction at the beginning followed by a fashion photoshoot style layout of every project in the book over several pages. Next all those projects you just saw are organized in six sections with four projects each. The first four sections cover clothing by seasons. The final two sections are more crafty.

The sizing ranges from infant to age 7. Not every project is appropriate for a baby so if you buy this book for yourself do so when you’re kid is very young to take advantage of all the projects as he grows.

“Sewing For Boys” doesn’t teach you to sew and the instructions are very similar to regular clothes sewing patterns so the user needs some previous pattern experience. It does include a small glossary of necessary terms along with a helpful list of seam finishes, you know, if you forget how to do a flat fell seam for those Treasure Hunt pants.

This book would be good for both beginning and advanced sewers as the beginners can try new projects and the more advanced can whip out a boy’s shirt in no time!

Most projects are labeled “beginner” or “intermediate.” I only counted three “advanced.”

The patterns are printed on 8 sheets of sturdy, semi-transparent white paper (much better than tissue paper!) The large number of sheets makes it easy to find your project and I especially liked that the sheets were not very big at all, making them easy to trace and fold back up in to the envelope.

Ok, enough with the technical, let’s move on to the fun part – projects!

The styling of these adorable little boy models struck me as very “I’m from Austin/Portland/San Fran and I let my kid’s hair grow out and send him to Montessori school and for his fifth birthday we had a ‘make your own compost’ party.” You know what I mean. Which is totally fine because I am from Austin and if I had a kid I’d probably do all of those things (and I think the authors are from Portland). But if that’s all too granola for you, you can still easily adapt any of these designs for a more suburban, public school lifestyle.

I could see myself making nearly all of the clothing designs. I especially like the coat pattern and the hoodie. I’d probably skip the suspender shorts. They’re a little too Von-Trap family for me.

The clothes are pretty basic but have little twists that make them unique – a hidden pocket here, cuffs on the pants, piping, etc. Lots of possibilities for cool fabrics.

I also liked that they included many patterns for knits because kids practically live in stretchy fabrics at that age.

The crafty sections are more predictable. There’s a notebook cover with crayon holders, appliques on old t-shirts (being eco-friendly), a quilt made from out grown shirts, fabric belts made with d-rings. All stuff I’ve seen before.

The standout project from that section is the race car mat – something a kid can enjoy for several years. There’s also a hat project that’s great for using scraps.

This book would be great for a parent of boys or someone who loves to sew and has nephews or little cousins. Go check it out on Amazon or on the book’s website (they post a bunch of sew-alongs for projects in the book!).

Finally Finished – McCall’s 5613

McCall's 5613

Alright, so it’s not even December yet but I already feel a overwhelmed with my challenge of handmaking most of my Christmas presents this year. Luckily I finished my last of three little girl’s dresses, one for each of my cousins. You can see the other two here and here.

McCall's 5613

This dress was made from McCall’s 5613, version D. I liked that it can be worn in the hot Texas weather or with a sweater or shirt underneath for colder days.

The pink and yellowish-green fabric was a remnant from the store I intern with and the buttons were from a multi size pack I bought at Joann. I had a hard time finding the right color buttons.

McCall's 5613

Oh, and you know what’s annoying? When you buttons are too big to fit in your button hole maker foot. Oh, well. I made it work.

I really think it is a pretty cute dress and I’m sure my little girly-girl cousin will love the flowers and pink (she’s 2 and 1/2).

McCall's 5613

But phew, I’m glad to be done with other people’s clothes. I never realized how much I’d worry and fret over if I made the right size and I have no way to tell.

While these dresses are adorable I’m glad to be getting back into making clothes for myself. I’m halfway finished with a pencil skirt right now and I’m almost ready to launch my knits lessons and sew-a-long!

Now if only I could finish that darn monster quilt…