Baby Gift Making

I was going to post this on Wednesday, but as I watched news coverage of the mass shooting in Vegas this morning, I decided to post it today instead. Baby makes are smile-producing and hopeful. On sad days, like today, they can offer a bit of levity.

These two makes are certainly cheerful creations. The tiny size alone makes them adorable. I’ve heard humans are programed to react favorably to small humans and their accoutrements. Apparently, it triggers our biological instincts to protect and nurture. Whatever the reason, small is always super cute.

As a sewists, I view a baby shower as a chance to flex my making muscles, so when I recently received a baby shower invitation, the first thing I did was plan my gift makes.

Rosebud Cardigan

Over the years, my shower gifts have consisted of baby blankets of various types. I’ve made blankets with ruffles, lacy stitches, cables, and monograms. I decided to branch out a bit with this make and knit a baby sweater. I’ve knit adult sized sweaters, but this was my first tiny sweater.

fullsizeoutput_1416I used the Rosebud Cardigan pattern from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight. I purchased this book locally a while back from my local yarn store, Fibre Space. It is also available online (see link above). I have previously knit another pattern in the book, the monogrammed baby blanket which turned out well.

This simple cardigan sweater is knit in five pieces (two arms, two front panels, one back) and then sewn together. A collar and button bands are added by picking up stitches once the sweater is sewn up.

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Sweater images from the book

The pattern calls for the use of a silk or mercerized cotton yarn. Fibre Space carries a large selection of Miss Babs yarn and, after much deliberation over feel and color, I decided on a scrummy skein of Woodbury, a fingering yarn. Woodbury’s fibre content is 65% merino wool and 35% tussah silk. This dusty pink is called “sugar.”

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I made only one change from the pattern as written. When shaping the raglan armholes, the pattern directs, “Decrease 1 stitch… at each end of the next and every following alternate row.” This direction would have me knit two rows for each decrease. I did a quick estimation of how long this would make the final arm measurement based on my gauge and decided to ignore the directions. Instead, I decreased by one stitch at the end of every row. I’m glad I deviated from the pattern. If I hadn’t, the arms would have knit up exceptionally long. I don’t expect baby to have octopus arms, so this wouldn’t have worked out well.

For such a small sweater, it took a considerable amount of time to knit. I binge watched several episodes of The Last Tycoon while knitting it up. (You can stream it here: Pilot.) The costuming on the show is fantastic!

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I finished the sweater, as the book suggests, with little satin rosettes purchased from my local craft store. I found some that look similar online here Pink Satin Rosebuds. The sweater could also be finished more traditionally with buttons.

Doctor Who Dress

I decided my second make for baby should focus on the dad-to-be. I find fathers get a bit lost in the excitement surrounding baby showers (especially when baby is a girl). For baby shower gifts in the past, I’ve sewn football-shaped baby blankets featuring dad’s favorite sports team. These blankets have been big hits at showers. I use the free directions and pattern published online here to create them. I highly recommend the pattern and instructions. Both are great.

This particular dad is not a big football fan, so a football blanket wouldn’t have been appropriate. He is, however, a huge fan of Doctor Who, so I decided to sew a Dr. Who themed dress.

Joann’s is my go-to spot for character fabrics. The section of Frozen fabric alone is mind blowing. I found a super cute cotton printed with the faces of all the different faces of Dr. Who throughout the years (including the most recent doctor). Unfortunately, this fabric is available in-store only.

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I did find another cute Doctor Who print that would also work for this dress and is available online.

Dad-to-be has an affinity for vintage, so I found some vintage reddish-orangish buttons at one of my local sewing shops, Stitch Sew Shop, for the closures.

You know I love a Burda pattern and my Burda Style stash is my first stop when looking for a specific type of pattern. A brief search resulted in the selection of a sweet smock-style dress with two little patch pockets and oversized button closures.

The dress pattern is from the March 2017 Burda Style Magazine. I sewed a size 74, the second smallest size available.

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Burda, March 2017

 

 

The pattern is rated as intermediate (three dots in Burda’s skill rating system) and I feel this is an appropriate rating. The pattern does require the use of piping, the creation of button holes, and the use of facings and bias binding. There is nothing particularly difficult or tricky with this pattern, but it does require some solid sewing knowledge. Burda doesn’t hold the sewist’s hand and assumes detailed directions are not needed. Despite the brevity of the instructions, they were clear.

The only thing I struggled with was the piping. My serger came with a piping foot and I was excited to try it out with this pattern. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to test it out on a scrap piece of fabric first. It did not go well.

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Oops! Piping disaster!

My piping was too thick for my piping foot and everything became a jammed up mess. I gave up and went back to applying the piping the old fashioned way with my zipper foot on my sewing machine.

I was in a rush finishing this dress and sewed on the buttons as my husband hustled me out the door for the baby shower, so I don’t have any in-progress shots and only one photo of the final dress.

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Despite the lack of photographic evidence, I am very pleased with how this dress turned out.

Hopefully, baby will look smashing in both!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that I will receive, at no cost to you, a commission if you click and make a purchase.

Pattern Review: Burda Magazine Flounce Sleeve Blouse 2017-7-119

The Burda Style Magazine for July 2017 contained several patterns that caught my eye. I shared a few of them on my IG Story and, with help from some IG friends, determined my monthly make should be the ruffled sleeve top, style #119.

Burda Style top
Image from BurdaStyle.com

Since I have a healthy stash, I didn’t want to purchase fabric for this top. I figured something I already owned should do the trick. After debating several options, I settled on a printed swiss dot I purchased at Joann Fabrics early in my sewing career, probably about five years ago.

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Light, with a gentle drape, this fabric has more body than the examples in the magazine. I was worried it might turn out too stiff, but, after spending some time this weekend in Georgetown boutiques and seeing one cotton ruffled and flounced top after another, I decided cotton was on trend for this type of top and would look fine.

 

The pattern is very simple. It consists of only six pieces and is pulled on over the wearer’s head without any zips or button bands. According to the Burda Magazine ratings, this is an intermediate pattern. I agree. While not a particularly difficult sew in a well-behaved cotton fabric, the sparseness of directions required significant sewing know-how to complete this project.

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The trickiest bit was the sleeves. I read the directions over and over. They could have been in the original German… I have no idea what they wanted me to do. The incomprehensibility of the directions was impressive. I have followed dozens of sewing pattern instructions over the years, spent over a decade teaching people how to read and write, and hold advanced degrees in English, but I could not figure out those sleeve instructions. No clue.

I finally figured it out by pinning the sleeves onto the bodice and fiddling with them on my dress form until they looked right. (Unfortunately, I was so in the sewing zone that I failed to take photos as I went. Sorry about that!) After much pinning, I decided to fold the sleeves back along the shoulder seam. At the dart in the sleeve, I folded the sleeve back over itself, lining it up again with the shoulder seam and allowing the excess fabric to drape down. This created the sleeve flounce. I basted the shoulder seam, now three pieces of fabric thick, together. For the back sleeve, I folded the fabric back over the shoulder seam and continued the fold around half of the back neckline. At the sleeve dart, I folded the sleeve back over itself and basted all three pieces of fabric as one. The shoulder seams were then sewn together. Each shoulder seam consisted of six layers of fabric! Luckily, with this light cotton, thickness wasn’t a problem and it sewed up easily.

After spending ages scratching my head over the sleeves, I was in no mood to fuss with the fabric loop for the front closure. I found a piece of thin black satin ribbon that I decided would do the job. When sewing the facing to the neckline, I pinned it into place between the two layers of fabric. I positioned the loop facing away from the neck opening. Once sewn together, I turned the facing right side out and the loop was in the perfect spot. The directions for attaching the loop are poor. They tell you to attach it, but don’t describe how. This sewing knowledge is assumed. I strayed from the directions by understitching the facing. This resulted in a crisp facing fold at the neckline.

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Directions on how to construct the bottom of the flutter sleeves were given but, I ignored them. The directions suggest folding over the fabric once and securing the fold with a short zigzag stitch. I worried this would produce a messy finish. Instead, I serged the hem of the sleeves. Then, I folded the serged ends to the inside and secured them with a straight stitch. I think my method produced a neater finish than the recommended method. A rolled hem would also look nice.

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I am wearing a navy camisole under the top due to the depth of the open neck. I think I can get away without it for casual wear.

The finished top was too long on me. This wasn’t surprising as I am shorter that the measurements Burda uses to create patterns. I cut 1.5 inches off the bottom length. I thought a deep hem might balance the heft of the sleeves, so I folded and pressed the hem by 1/2 inch. Then, I folded it over again by 2 inches and sewed it down. This produced a wide 2 inch hem and provided the visual balance I was seeking.

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I finished this make with a round pearl-white button at the neck.

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I like the final shirt so much that I forgive Burda for the poor directions.

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Did you sew a style from the July issue? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO