Handmade Gifts

Over the past couple of months, I’ve made a lot of gifts for people. My nieces birthdays are in November and then Christmas I made gifts for people and some of those overlapped into January for me to finish them. Then my sister’s birthday is at the end of January. I still have one more thing to get done, but it has to wait… again… I’ve had a shirt cut out for my husband since uh… early 2015….oops.

My nieces are 14 and 7. I had a big dilemma regarding the 14 year old and what to send her for both her birthday and Christmas. I chose to make them both pajama sets for their birthday. Last year for Christmas, I sent all my nieces and nephew pj pants and they went over really well.

For the older niece’s top, I used Lydia #3197 from Burdastyle. I then graded the top down a couple of sizes for a 14 year old. I’ve used the Lydia pattern quite a bit for my Star Trek uniform shirts for the women in my troupe; I made a bunch of them in the fall. The Lydia is a nice basic long sleeve t-shirt and works well; it has nice hip shaping for the curvy among us and is very flattering.

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The top is made from white jersey with spandex in it (same fabric from my Simplicity 1812 top). It’s an awesome shirt fabric and has great recovery. It also washes well and doesn’t stain easily. I used my serger for the construction and my machine twin needle for all the topstitching. Although, I was disappointed with the lack of stretch in the twin needle. I think I should have increased my stitch length or used a different width of twin needle.

For the pj pants, I made an XS with the Simplicity free pattern (which isn’t available on their new site since they updated it). It’s the same one I used last year for Christmas. Then I freaked because they looked super small and added a four inch panel to each side. I figured bigger with a drawstring was probably fine. She says they fit okay. Phew.

This picture was taken before I added the panel:

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The pj pants are made with super soft blue and green plaid flannel. It was originally a double-sized flat sheet that I got at the thrift store. I used french seams in the whole thing. I hope I have enough of this fabric for a button-up top or a pair of pj pants for me or a top of some sort. I adore it. So soft. Excuse me, I need to go pet this fabric….

For my younger niece’s pj top, I used another Burda pattern: Raglan Tee 03/2014 #138. The pattern is really good. It includes two versions in it (here is the other version). I really love Burda kids patterns. They sew up very easily and fit my niece well.

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For the pj pants, I used Livi Stitches’ Avery Lounge Pants. I used the same pattern last year for her pjs, but forgot to talk about it. It’s an easy pattern with lots of sizes included in it. It is unisex and goes from 6-12M for an infant all the way to 12 years for a kid. I will be using this pattern for years to come. The plus about the pattern is that you only need to print the size you are making. Now that does mean there are no nested sizes, unfortunately, but fitting kids is super easy. The sizes are pretty spot on with RTW kids sizes, which is pretty important to me when I make stuff for my niece or anyone else’s kids. They need to be close to RTW or else it is too much guess work and measuring. The pattern also has great options for length and adding cuffs and ruffles. It’s well worth the $5 I paid for it.

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Both top and bottom are made with purple cotton ribbing and blue cotton interlock with some machine embroidery detail on the hems of the sleeves, shirt, and pant legs. I tried to top stitch the neckline with it, but it failed and I had to cut off the original neckline and sew on a new one. Worked out fine and made for an even nicer neckline, but I was bummed that I couldn’t use the embroidery stitch there. It was the same flower chain stitch from my green circle skirt. I used my serger for the construction and my machine for top stitching.

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Their gifts were fueled by Reese Peanut Butter cups. Yum!

For Christmas, I made two more pj sets for my younger niece. I used the Avery Lounge pants again, but for the top I made a change. My sister informed me that my niece loved her pj set so much, but that she didn’t really wear long sleeve tops to bed. I found a free pattern for a kid’s tank top for sizes 3-8.

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One pj set includes a pink tank top made with poly rayon spandex jersey and fleece cupcake print fabric. Both are from Fabricland. Since Fabricland moved into Honest Ed’s at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor here in Toronto, I’ve been visiting there about once every month or two. It’s easier to navigate than the other fabric stores in the Fashion District and often has good sales. I am still frequenting King Textiles, Neveruns, and Affordable Textiles every once in a while, but Fabricland is also part of my rotation. Findings, notions, and trims are still kind of expensive at Fabricland. I find more of a price difference in the knit fabrics. Knit fabrics in the Fashion District are a little on the pricey side. The other advantage to a chain store is the sales. The independent places rarely have sales and their marked down stuff is pretty low quality sometimes dusty as anything from streetcar dust on Queen St or sun bleached. It’s pretty disappointing. It’s nice to get bigger discounts at Fabricland. I’ve been avoiding shopping online since the Canadian dollar is not doing well at all. Sadly, even the Black Friday and post-Christmas sales were too expensive for me after the exchange rate and shipping. I’m hoping the dollar is on par again soon. I have done some online shopping, but only for bramaking stuff.

All of this is to say that the cost of my niece’s outfit here was really low. Less than ten bucks and I get a shirt or two for myself out of the pink fabric. I’ve picked up different colours for myself.

The other fabrics for the second set are the same purple cotton ribbing from her birthday set and a flower power flannel both from the thrift store. It’s nice to stay on budget for the holidays for once! Thank goodness for my local thrift store.

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My older niece got a choice for her Christmas present, because my sister informed me she didn’t need anymore pj pants. I gave her the choice of either True Bias’s Hudson pants (which I hadn’t made before but I thought would be a good choice for a sporty teen) or a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress (my version was made for Jungle January last year). She was okay with either and gave the choice to me so I decided on the Violet dress, because I had made it previously and enjoyed the process. I used black poly rayon spandex fabric from Fabricland. Are you sensing that I love this fabric? This one was a little different: more lightweight fabric with a texture to it. I hope my camera picked that up okay for you in the picture below. It’s a lovely fabric and obviously I got enough to make myself a top.

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I did the neckline construction a little different than the instructions. I let the elastic gathering create the v-neck after I put the band on in the round. I had a bit of a messy neckline before so I wanted a nice professional one for this dress. The hem is finished with my serger.

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I can report that it fits her really well. I’m not going to share her picture, but it does look great!

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I also added some coffee beans to the package for my sister and brother-in-law and dressed them up like Rudolph. 🙂

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When I was chatting with my sister over the holidays, she asked in the most adorable way if I could make her a pair of pj pants. I think she might have gotten a little jealous of all the things I made the kids.

Instead of using the free Simplicity pattern for the pj pants, I wanted her to feel super special and give her a fancier pair. I went with Sewaholic’s Tofino pants for her, because I love the piping detail. I also knew the sizing would be a better choice since my sister is a pear shape.

I got the pdf version of the pattern. It was very easy to tape together. I had no issues with that at all. The instructions were really simple to follow. Definitely a great pattern. I’m a bit of a Sewaholic fan and would love to make more of their patterns in the future. I’m a little busty for them, though… But they are really nicely drafted patterns. Their current sizing is close to my measurements, except in the bust obviously. Tofino pants only go up to size 16, but I am confident on grading them up to a 20 or 22 for myself will work. I definitely want to make myself some in the future.

For my sister’s pants, I made size 12, but cut a size 10 elastic for the waistband. I made piping using red and white striped cotton fabric and a piece of yarn for the cording. I am a DIY queen when it comes to piping. Yarn as the centre works just fine for me!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to always match the stripes accurately, but I didn’t really fuss over that. With piping, it’s such a small band that shows and these are pj pants after all. My sister isn’t going to hang me for that small infraction.

The fabric I used is another thrift store find and was during a 40% off sale at the thrift store. I got it for $2.50. I received the elastic as a gift and the striped cotton was leftover scraps from my Nautical M6696 dress. Sending it to her in the mail cost more than the whole thing.

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She didn’t care that the fabric was Christmas themed at all. It’s super soft. Maybe not quite as soft as the plaid flannel at the top of this post, but so very close. Excuse me while I go pet this fabric…

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Construction took about 2.5 hours in total even with making all that piping. I like that the waistband is a separate piece. I like the panels and the deep hem.

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I topstitched the piping down to make sure the seam didn’t bother her while she slept.

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I shortened the pants about 3 inches, because we are a family of shorties. The deep hem also means that if they are too short for her taste, she can bring that hem down. 3 inches is my standard shortening process.

Another item I made that was so late was for my friend, Lyndsey, who freaked when I posted my Gryffindor cardigan in such a cute way that I offered to make her one.

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Here it is before the buttons were on. I made the same size 48 I made myself for the Sophie Cardigan using the same fabric and buttons. The only difference is that the patch was slightly different. I, of course, totally neglected to take a picture of it.

The second last gift I made is one I refuse to take a picture of, because it was boxers for my husband. I’m not showing you his underwear. I made 6 pairs.

I will report, however, that the boxer shorts pattern in Simplicity 2741 is great. I made a size L and the fit is spot on. Although, I did need to increase the crotch curve. And that is all I am saying about that.

The final thing I made was a Slytherin cardigan for my husband using M6803 in size XXL.

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I used a polyester knit in grey and a dark forest green. I also got metal buttons and a patch from ebay.

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The pattern is great. Fit is great and he likes it.

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The only thing I did differently with the pattern was install the pockets more like my Sophie cardigan. Instead of making them a patch slightly above the band, I put them along the band and sewing up the bottom when I sewed on the band. Makes for a cleaner look, but the pockets are rather low. I might increase their height if I make this again.

I had so many requests for Harry Potter cardigans that I think I need to get some more patches!

I still have one more non-selfish gift to get to, but I have bras to do first.

This post covers 18 handmade gifts. I think I finally understand why I haven’t been posting much in the past two months……… Let’s celebrate with cake!

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Mmmm cake./sleeps forever

 

 

 

Waiting for my Hogwarts letter: Muse Patterns Sophi cardi and Tahi skirt

A while ago, I had plans of making a Muse Patterns outfit. Then Kat posted the Muse Loves Merino contest and I had to create an outfit for that! Check out the contest. There is still time to create something for it since it closes on November 30.

Eventually, my outfit evolved into a Gryffindor uniform. As soon as I picked the colours of the Sophi cardi, it was set: gold and red. I ordered my Gryffindor iron on patch from YourPatchStore on etsy and I decided to make a grey wool Tahi skirt to be reminiscent of a school uniform.

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I should do the disclaimer: Both of these patterns I received for free from Muse Patterns, but all the opinions and geekery are my own.

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I also had the perfect gold buttons in my stash for the cardigan.

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Both the skirt and the cardigan were extremely easy to make. The pdf pattern was a breeze to put together. I love that Kat added a feature to the pdfs where you can print just your size. The pdf is layered and you can choose what layers to print. It makes for a really clean pattern once it’s all put together. I never grade between sizes with Kat’s patterns. I’m pretty firmly at the top end of her sizing.

Both skirt and cardigan were easy to sew. The only issues I ran into were on the skirt with the paneling. My grey wool was very lightweight and prone to shifting around a little during construction. I had to sew one of the panels again to get it right. I loved the zipper construction for the skirt. It was so easy to follow and probably my best lapped zipper insertion yet! Of course I forgot to take a picture of it! I usually handpick my zippers, but I did this completely on the machine. Same with the waistband: I usually hand sew, but was able to do it on the machine really nicely. I always find I have a lot more control and a neater finish with hand sewing, but the instructions for the skirt really guide you and make sure the finish is great with the machine.

My only critique of the cardigan is that the neckband in the v-neck version could use shortening. It doesn’t seem to provide enough negative ease to make sure it doesn’t get loose at the neck and flip up. It might have been my mistake, though, as my fabric piece wasn’t big enough to make it all one piece and I have a seam at the center of the neckband.

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I’m a huge fan of Muse Patterns and often test for Kat. It didn’t work out to test for either of these patterns. One was released just before my wedding this summer and the other while my cat was ill. I am so glad I got to make them both, especially in such a nerdy way!

Here’s my photoshoot! Excuse the wrinkly skirt. I ironed it and sat down once to put my shoes on and well…. I decided not to iron again.

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In terms of fit, I think the skirt is slightly long for me, but I decided not to shorten it and lose the panel flares. I like the shape of the skirt, but I definitely prefer a circle skirt or a dirndl skirt shape to the a-line; I love fuller skirts and find they flatter my shape a lot more. I think the basic A-line would work really nicely in a suede with a shorter length, since suede holds it’s shape nicely. I might try this in the future since I have some suede. I love the cardigan. Although, I do think it would look better with pants instead of the high-waisted skirts or dresses that I normally wear. I also wear cardigans open more than closed like this so that tends to be a little better.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Tahi Skirt
  • Pros: Lovely construction and instructions for the zipper, panels, and waistband. Went together beautifully.
  • Cons: Nothing against the pattern, but if you are making in a slippery fabric use something like spray starch to stabilize the fabric for those corners in the panels.
  • Make again?: Absolutely. I think that suede one needs to happen!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars
  • Pattern: Sophi Cardi
  • Pros: I love the pockets. A cardigan with pockets is a hug bonus. The raglan sleeves went together really nicely and fit well unlike a lot of other patterns I have used with raglan sleeves.
  • Cons: The neckband was perhaps too long. I’m not 100% on whether this was my mistake or the pattern’s. I will make it again and decide whether I will give the half star back for that.
  • Make again?: Absolutely. My bestie commented on the picture on Instagram and went crazy. I will be making her one for her birthday this year.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdhalf-star-black-md4.5/5 stars