Monday, September 15, 2014

Flip This Pattern: Hosh Pants into PJ's

New pajamas for The Boy have been at the top of the sewing list for a while, and when I got some awesome Japanese printed gauze and some coordinating super-soft knit out in Nippori Fabric Town, I knew what materials I would use for said jammies.  But I left all of the patterns I had drawn out over the years back in Portland when we moved overseas, so it was time for a new PJ pants pattern.

Flipping through my digital pattern files, I realized that I bought LouBee's Hosh Pants a while back, but had never tried them out.  They only go up to a size 6, which is already pushing it for my boy, so it was now or never to make him a pair.  I got some denim for a pair of jeans for him, but I thought I'd try out a simpler version of the Hosh to start with, to see if it would work as a jeans pattern down the line.  And what a good excuse to join the September Pattern Flip link-up!

In order to flip the Hosh Pants into pajamas, I added just a little extra width when I cut out the pattern.  My gauze doesn't have stretch, but it does have what I would call "give"--it just feels comfy. I made a knit waistband with elastic inside instead of the elastic-tabbed waistband in the pattern.  And at the ankles, I made some knit cuffs.

Since my boy is tall, I just cut out the size 6 length, and with the cuffs they were the perfect length.  But if you are making the right size for your kid, you will want to cut a little length off of the pattern so they aren't too long when you add the cuffs!  I think knit cuffs are a great way to make pajama pants last a little longer--you can make longer legs, but they won't dangle on the ground because the cuffs are snug on the ankle.

I think that using the Hosh pattern gave the pi's a more modern look than the traditional wide-leg jammies.  I love the knit skinny jammies on my kids, but I do have to admit that as my boy gets bigger, the knit ones do look a little too young for him, so this is a nice in-between step from a plain T-shirt and pj pants.

The top I made from a raglan tee pattern.  I started with this one but adapted the shape to fit my boy better--longer arms, narrower and longer body.  In the back I put a panel of the gauze, and added a pocket on the front to tie in the print (even though it's kind of silly to have a pocket on pj's!)  I used french seams when attaching the gauze since it's a loose weave, and I didn't want it to fray.  The inside looks so nicely finished as a result!

Oh, and don't you want a close-up of that fabric?  I fell in love with this print!

Kobayashi Wild Boar and Piglet Double Gauze from Japan
Less than $6 a yard in Tokyo's fabric town.  I LOVE THIS PLACE!  And the knit for his shirt was about $1 a yard!   Oh, and Little Sister wants a coordinating pair of pj's--I'm pretty sure I have enough left over for a nightgown!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Totoro, Totoro!

I'm so excited for a new season of Project Run and Play!  I will definitely be sewing along for at least some of the weeks, including the first one, '80s cartoon theme!

I had a few ideas right off the bat for an outfit inspired by an '80s cartoon, but I had a brainstorm when I realized that the amazing Hayao Miyazaki animated film, My Neighbor Totoro, originally came out in 1988.  My kids (and I) recently saw this movie for the first time (the version with English dubbing that Disney put out in 2006)--we thought that since we were living in Japan it was part of their cultural education!  Totoro is huge here, and for good reason--that movie is SO GOOD!  My kids can be sensitive to scariness in movies (my son can't handle any of the bad guys in most of the Disney princess movies), and this one has the perfect balance of humor, mystery, and magic.  They have watched it several times since our arrival, and they can often be heard humming the catchy Totoro theme song.

There's a memorable scene in the movie with Totoro and the kids at a bus stop in the rain, which inspired this photo setup.

From the movie--Little Sister wanted to wear her green leaf headband just like Totoro :)

I was originally inspired to make a Totoro-themed jumper for my daughter, but I realized that my son loved Totoro just as much, and would be jealous if his little sister got something and he didn't!  So I ended up making two items.

I started with these sketches--pretty close, huh?

The t-shirt was pretty simple--I used this free printable pattern for a size 6 raglan sweatshirt, but since I was making just a tee for my lanky 6-year old, I made the body and sleeves a little slimmer and left off the band at the bottom (adding length to the body pieces to make up for it).  The body is color blocked to make the Totoro face/belly combo.  However, I cut the sleeves too short so that's why the cuffs are so long!  I could tell the pattern pieces looked too short for my guy--I have got to trust myself on these things!  Since his shirt was jersey and wouldn't fray, I left the appliqués raw-edged, and added a little embroidery for Totoro's face.  I cut the gray appliqué at all different angles--I thought it added a little whimsy to have the stripes going every which way.

I let him pick what expression he wanted Totoro to have.
The gray stripe was a knit fabric I had brought from the states--I ordered it from Girl Charlee before I left, and it was a really nice soft jersey with a little bit of thickness.  I found the cool textured off-white knit in Nippori, Tokyo's Fabric Town, for only 100 yen per yard--score!

I needed something to use for lining on the jumper, which was the impetus for my fantastic trip to the aforementioned Nippori in Tokyo, otherwise known as Fabric Town.  You guys!  It was my best day in Tokyo so far.  This place was awesome!  There was an entire store of bargain fabrics, most for 100 yen per meter (so about $1/yard).  I bought tons of linings, and even some fun prints.  The main store had great prices too, and was divided into floors--one for amazing Japanese cotton prints, one for knits (which had its own 100 yen section), one for special occasion fabrics, and so on.  Lining the street on both sides were individual stores for trims, home decor fabrics, leathers, notions, knits, etc--it was a little overwhelming, but mostly I just wanted to grab everything I could get my hands on.  I brought home over 24 meters of fabric, and spent less than $40!  It was wonderful, and I'm already planning my second trip there!

The fabric I decided to use for the lining was this beautiful buttery-soft printed double gauze.

The selvage tells me it is Fuwari, printed in Japan.

It's soooo nice, and it was less than $4/yard!

I already had the main gray fabric--it was a remnant just under a yard that I had brought from Portland, but the white corduroy was another Nippori find (200 yen per yard) to use for the tummy panel, which I made into a kangaroo pocket (also lined with the printed gauze.)

Perfect for carrying a little friend :)

The pocket has piping around the outside for a little extra definition, and I appliquéd Totoro's signature belly tufts onto it.

Happy about the pockets--she is a girl after my own heart!
His face is hand-embroidered--something I SUCK at but it was simple enough to get the idea across!

 She chose the "little O" mouth for her face.

Are we done taking pictures yet?

Pocket lining--I had to put a coin in there to get her to show me the inside ;)

For the basic shape of the jumper, I used this free pattern from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.   In addition to the obvious addition of the kangaroo pocket, I also traded out the buttons in the back for a zipper, and added a ruffle just for fun.

Back view--I love the yellow zipper.

I installed my zipper with a total cheater method, which I will describe below [edited--this post got so long that I'm just going to do a separate post with the zipper installation tutorial!] --I was amazed at how well it worked!  I am afraid of buttons--I do not have the patience to get everything lined up properly so mine always look wonky and messy.

We definitely had fun at the photo shoot--we walked to the large park near our apartment, where I had scouted the bus stop from the beginning of the post, but the kids were excited to find their own Totoro-esque locations too, like this little path tucked into the greenery...

They also had fun showing me their best Totoro faces.

Big Totoro Teeth!

This is Little Sister's favorite Totoro face--the tiny mouth.  It's what she chose for her embroidery.

This was the most fun I've had trying to take photos of them in a while--they were totally on board today.  I guess I should make clothes with their favorite characters on them more often!

It helps that Baskin Robbins is right by the park--good bribery for photo shoot cooperation!  In case you were wondering, Totoro seems to like the Cotton Candy flavor.
Well, I was going to do a tutorial for my cheater zipper method here, but this post is already sooooo long--I think I'll just make a separate post and link to it here.

Be sure to check back when all the other Project Run and Play sew along projects are linked up, and vote for the awesome competitors as well!  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day Of School Dress!

This week, the kids started school at their new international school here in Tokyo.  I wanted to make some back-to-school clothes, but The Boy will be wearing uniforms this year, so I only had to worry about Little Sister's wardrobe.

It's been a little tough to do any fabric shopping in the last few weeks, with family visiting and kids out of school--I don't think they'd have much patience for a trek across town on the trains to visit a fabric store--so I had to make do with what I had.  I brought one box of fabrics from the states, and I have some scraps from my fabric shopping earlier in the summer while the kids were in summer school, so lucky for me, Little Sister likes having matching outfits with mom!  Her back-to-school dress was made with a piece of knit fabric I brought from home and the leftovers from my deer-print Sorbetto tank.

My starting point for this dress was the raglan tee tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional.  Since I left all of the old pattern pieces I had drawn up for the kids back in Portland, I drew a new raglan tee pattern using one of Little Sister's t-shirts.  Then I adapted the sleeve pattern by adding extra height and flaring up the opening a little so that I could use a woven fabric for the sleeve, and I wanted to get a little flutter in there too.   When I sewed the sleeve in place, I followed the directions just like I would have for a knit sleeve, but I reeeally stretched the neck binding all the way across the top of the woven sleeve fabric to create a slight gather.

The striped piece of knit fabric that I had was only about 15" long (it came from a box of quarter-yard cuts I had ordered from Girl Charlee a while back), so I just cut the bodice of the dress as long as I could while still lining up the stripes.  Luckily I didn't need to hem the bottom since I was attaching the skirt, so it didn't matter that I didn't have enough fabric to make a full-length shirt.  I cut the neckline binding from a pink stripe using the rest of the width of the fabric.

Check out that side-seam stripe matching!

The skirt is just a rectangle, again cut as large as I could make it from the scraps I had left over!  I cut one big panel, about 30" by 12", and put the seam in the center back.  I used the selvage edge for the bottom, so I didn't have to hem it.  I just gathered the top until it was a few inches bigger than the bottom of the shirt, then lined up the raw edges (slightly stretching the shirt to make it all fit) and sewed them together!  On the inside, I ironed the raw knit edge down over the raw woven ruffled top of the skirt fabric and added a top seam to tuck those loose ends inside.  I just can't get enough of this fabric, and I'm so excited that I had enough of it to make this dress for Little Sister.

I think the scale works so well, with the wide stripe and the dainty print, and the colors matched up perfectly.  Plus it was a quick sew!

Bonus?  Little Sister loved it so much that her dad let her wear it on the second day of school too!  Pretty sure you can only get away with that when you're four.

She didn't even get any popsicle on it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother-Daughter Matching!

I have to admit, I think it's fun to make matching clothes.  Whether it's coordinating outfits for the kids or in this case mommy/daughter dresses from different patterns with the same fabrics, I just get a kick out of it.  ESPECIALLY in this case, because Little Sister specifically requested a dress like mine--or as she puts it, "Let's be matchers!"  How could I refuse?  Especially when it's a way for me to get her to wear something that isn't pink or purple.

The Ruby Dress from Made by Rae and The Cupcake Dress from Baste and Gather

Sis has a couple of halter-style tops that she has been wanting to wear almost every day, so when I saw that Baste and Gather was offering a free printable halter dress pattern, I knew I wanted to make it for Little Sister.  I asked her to choose her fabric from the small stash I have here in Tokyo, which was when she found the leftovers from my Ruby Dress.  That fabric is PERFECT for this pattern--a floaty cotton that somehow isn't see-through at all.  This would be the most comfortable thing to wear on a steamy Tokyo August day.

However, Little Sister refuses to wear a dress without pants underneath it these days, for some reason.  AND she always wants to wear socks, and won't wear any of her sandals.  She is a total crazy person.  When we took theses pictures at the park, she was so sweaty, but wouldn't take the pants off.

It's HOT out here!

Definitely having a bath tonight.

Anyway, I made a few alterations to this pattern, the most obvious being the elastic halter strap.  I love the look and adjustability of the tie straps in the original pattern, but we are working on Little Sister's independence, particularly in our morning routine, and the elastic puts the dress into the "I can do it myself" category.  It was a little tricky to get the length just right--long enough to easily stretch over her head while still keeping the bodice up high enough.  The elastic in the back portion of the bodice helps with that too.  I keep debating whether to go in and shorten the neck elastic a little bit more--it does tend to sag when she's been running around, as you can see above.

Another alteration was that since I was using scraps of fabric from my dress project, I wanted to just use what I had.  My skirt pieces were about 6 inches wider than what the pattern calls for, and a couple of inches longer.  I just went ahead and used it all, rather than having useless scraps.  Little sister would never complain about another foot of fullness or a little extra length!  I'm really happy with the way the skirt turned out.

How do YOU feel about it?

I did have to cut off a couple of inches of elastic in my back panel--I cut out a size 4, and Little Sister is still on the small side so tightening up the elastic really helped with the fit.  I probably could have cut off even more, but I kind of like the way the lower back makes the skirt into a bit of a high-low skirt.

As soon as the dress was finished, Little Sister wanted to wear it to the park, and she insisted that I change into my matching dress.  I agreed, with the stipulation that she would have to pose for a few pictures with me to show off our twin outfits!

This fabric was a find at my local Walmart in Portland that made the cut for traveling to Tokyo with me.  I had two yards that I had bought at $4/yard, so I'm pretty excited that I was able to get two dresses out of it!   And now I have used every last scrap of it up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Couple of Summer Sorbettos

Colette Patterns has a great reputation, and I've had the free pattern for their Sorbetto Tank Top saved for AAAAAAGES, but never made one until now.  My main reason for putting it off was that, well, I guess I just didn't like it that much!  So why make it now?  I guess I'm finally confident enough in my sewing and fitting skills that I knew I could take the basic shape of the pattern, which is really well-written and clear, and I could adjust it to make it into something that is more my style.

The main problem, for me, with the original pattern, is that the shape is pretty boxy.  And I just can't do boxy--I never like the way that style looks on me, no matter how cute I might think it is on other people.   Also, I wasn't sure about the center pleat--it seemed to add to the boxiness somehow.  I saw a blog post where someone made the tank with an inverted pleat, and I liked that both for the subtlety and the shaping--it gave the tank a slight a-line, since the fabric isn't sewn in the middle all the way down, only at the top.

I also added quite a bit of length, based on comments I saw on other blogs.  I think I added about 4 inches, plus I made a sort-of curved hem, just for the fun of it.

I just COULD NOT get a good picture of how the side hem curved up and down with my remote!  You'll have to imagine.
I messed with the neckline a bit too--narrowing the straps and widening the neckline, and deepening it a little bit.  What can I say, I like an open neckline!

I like it best with a pencil skirt--this one is denim, so it's still a casual look.  It works well with a slim bermuda short, and I imagine skinny jeans would be good too, but I cannot FATHOM putting jeans on with the heat and humidity here in Tokyo in August!  Maybe I'll try that outfit in a few months.  

The best part of this top is this fabric.  I found it at Okadaya, a 5-story fabric store in Shinjuku, and I LOVE IT.  I can't remember what I paid, but I remember thinking it was surprisingly affordable--I'm thinking between $6-$8 a meter?  I bought 1.5 meters and used most of it, but I probably have enough left to make a fun bodice on a dress for Little Sister.  It's a really lightweight soft cotton--not quite a voile, but definitely lighter and drapier than a quilting cotton.  And with the breezy shape you get using the inverted pleat, it is SO nice for the hot weather.  It barely touches your body!  But check out this print--I love it so much!

Oh deer!
For my second top, I made a few more adjustments--I really like how the first one turned out, but it did still seem a little too big in the bust, and my straps came out a little wider than I like (it's a little tricky to keep my bra straps hidden).  So I cut a new pattern, slightly different than the first, but the style is closer to the original Sorbetto top.  

Thanks to The Boy for taking this picture while we were playing at the park--no official photo shoot for this top!

I thought I'd try the pleat after all, and what do you know--I actually like it!  I made the matching bias tape as well, and I think that looks great too, even though making the tape is a bit of a pain.  This fabric is one I brought with me from the states, and I used up every last scrap of it making this top!

And this photo credit goes to Little Sister.  Don't worry Sis, we didn't need to see my head.  
This pattern does have a wider, deeper neckline (and therefore narrower straps) from the original pattern.  I also added length here--about 4 inches again--and I cut the bust at a size 2 but widened out to a size 6 at the hip to get the a-line shape I like.  

And here it is in the wild--this was on our family visit to the Odawara Castle.

I made one more that I haven't managed to get pictures of yet--I omitted the pleat altogether due to the print on the fabric I was using, and I added an elastic waist and a skirt (with pockets) because basically all I want to wear in this weather is dresses.  So I'm happy to have another sundress in the closet too!  After spending my life in the Pacific Northwest, it turns out that the hot-humid-summer-weather portion of my wardrobe is woefully lacking.  And now that summer's almost over, I've just about got that situation rectified!

I've got another one laid out to cut now that I feel like I have my pattern just right.  I want to try this overlapping back technique--looks like a good way to keep it cool!  I also want to try another one with some smocking in the back to bring the top in a little more--I'm going to play around with some ideas I have about that.  Then when fall rolls around, maybe I'll try making one with a peter pan collar and some sleeves!  What's so great about this pattern is that since it is such a basic piece, with great directions, it's easy to mix it up and get lots of different effects.  So that it doesn't look like you're basically wearing the same shirt every day.  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway!