new shirts

I really like sewing for my kids when I know they'll wear what I've made. I have learned (the hard way) (more than once) that surprising them is not at all a good strategy. It's much better to present them with options for patterns and fabric/yarn, or at least color choice, and go with what they want to wear, which may or may not align with what I want to make. In the end, we're all happier that way.

Daniel has had an especially noticeable growth spurt in the last six months. I just bought him new tennis shoes THAT ARE TOO BIG FOR MY FEET. Sniff. He is 10 and in the upper half of the growth charts for his age, especially for height. There is no way he could possibly squeeze himself into the shirt I made him last fall. He needed a new one for picture day and piano recitals and whatnot this year. I had already made the biggest size available for that particular pattern, but I figured I would just find another one that comes in at least a size 12. 

Given the plethora of patterns available for what feels like every conceivable garment style, I assumed that finding a sewing pattern for a plain old simple button-down shirt for a tween boy would be relatively easy. No big deal, right? Wrong. Not a single pattern I could find online or even from the  Big 4 pattern companies went up to the size I needed. Most stop at size 8, though some go up to size 10. (The Sketchbook Shirt I made him last year ostensibly goes up to size 12, but I find that most O&S patterns run awfully small and I'd already made the biggest size and lengthened it by 3" to fit Daniel a year ago, so there was no way I could get it to fit him now.)

That's a whole post I need to write, about the sewing and knitting patterns available, who they're for, and how they're marketed. Some other time, perhaps.

Anyway, I poked around online and posted an inquiry on a Ravelry forum for people who sew, and a very helpful person sent me an eBay link to an old McCall's pattern that is no longer in print. Thank goodness she did because it was exactly what I was looking for.

Now, I've had plenty of complaints about the Big 4 pattern companies, especially when it comes to wonky fit and sizing, especially in kids' patterns. But this was my only option and with shipping it was still only about 10 bucks, so I figured I didn't have much to lose other than my time and less than 2 yards of fabric.

Luckily, it worked out.

I was a little out of practice with attaching a collar, but the instructions were clear enough, the pieces fit together, and I took it slowly and carefully enough that I didn't botch anything too badly. Fortunately, Daniel wanted short sleeves, so I was able to avoid messing with cuffs and plackets.

Believe it or not, I sewed most of this on election night. I was glued to the news and had to keep busy.  This shirt was one small good thing that came from me on Tuesday. And good thing I didn't have to do sleeve plackets or I might have come undone for sure.

Because I used black fabric (it's Cambridge Lawn by Robert Kaufman that I had on hand) and don't have close up photos, you can't see these details, but I used flat-felled seams to attach the sleeves, and French seams along the sides. My top-stitching on the pocket and collar was about as good as I can get, too.

He'll probably grow out of it by January.

Anya also got a new top! I made her a Mini Sutton Blouse, pattern from True Bias. She approved the pattern and chose the fabric (Robert Kaufman again, this time Radiance in the color "slate"), and is thus pleased as punch. I love that color on her.

My sewing on this wasn't quite as stellar, though it'll pass. Radiance is a lovely cotton/silk blend that feels so light and soft, but is a bit slippery and tends to fray. It also wrinkles. When I took the picture above, Anya had only been wearing it for a few minutes and it's not like she was doing somersaults once she put it on. 

The buttons are fancy.

The French seams are acceptable.

This picture below is where you see the real innards of the shirt and how I kind of had a hard time with sewing it. I had to serge the edges of the fabric down the sides before sewing the seam. Because there is a split hem, flat-felled or French seams weren't an option. My serger frustrates me and I want a new one but something like a new serger is cost-prohibitive so I'll continue to fight with my old one for now. Even changing the thread is a huge production, so I left the black thread in that was there from my jeans-making experiment over the summer, and made due with weirdly rolled edges it created. It's not perfect, but I can live with it.

Sewing comes in fits and starts for me. It's just not an activity that is easy for me to pick up and put down like knitting. I'll go weeks between projects and then slam out two or three things in succession in a spurt of energy. 

Garment sewing is stressful, though. I'm thinking my next project might be placemats.


Popular Posts