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sewing clothes for teenagers and tweens

A shirt with dogs. Plus flying bikes

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt back

Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.

I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.

Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt with skeletonBack to this summer’s shirt.

He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.

Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.

He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.

We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt

I love that blue.

Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.

He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.

We’ll see.

I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.

dog fabric and shirt instructionsThe collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt matching frontAs always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.

I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!

The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt Pultney Bridge weirSo the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.

I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.

I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.

flying bikes in BathMy daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?

Anyway, the sewing details….

Details

Pattern: Simplicity 4760
Fabric: Dog Print cotton Poplin in Teal

Notes and alterations to the pattern

I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.

I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.

I would add length to the sleeves next time.

The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.

I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.

Would I make it again? Yes.


Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.

Retro car top is ready to go

back of retro car shirtThis is the second time I’ve used the McCalls 6951 pattern, so I thought it would be straightforward. A quick sewing project.

No.

Turns out I had set myself a bit of a challenge on this one. I made a real Rookie mistake. I had underestimated the repeat (the length of the fabric until the pattern starts to repeat) and ordered too little fabric. It was not going to be easy to cut out all the pieces and match seams at the same time.

I’m a stickler for matching seams. Especially the front and back. My needlework teacher’s story about sitting behind someone in church, with a non-matching back seam in their dress, has haunted me ever since.

front of retro car shirtI spent the best part of a Sunday morning rearranging the paper pieces on the fabric, until I came up with a creative solution. I cut out the front pieces so they matched. There was no option. It had to match at the front.

The back part was designed as a single piece. My fabric was not big enough. My solution was to cut it in half and also add a yoke using a different fabric. There wasn’t enough for the stated seam allowance. Fortunately, my daughter is willowy and I could get away with less fabric, and added¬† binding to reinforce the seam. Looks very neat on the inside too.

A bit convoluted, and involved more seam matching, but every thing matches, so I’m happy. I’m not sure Middle daughter was bothered either way.

mccalls m 6951 back view

There wasn’t even enough fabric for the collar. I really did get it wrong. I used the same blue fabric to cut out the under collar, which works.

Strangely, I love the changes I was forced to make. It adds touches that I would not have thought to add. Most importantly, Middle daughter loves the blouse too. She’s the one that will be wearing it after all.

buttons of retro car blouseThe retro car blouse story does not end there. While wearing it on the first day, unfortunately a rather boisterous, big pup, who will remain nameless, became too excited and caught the back of the hem. Leaving the worst kind of tear to mend. Yes, an L-shaped tear.

After much discussion, we came up with a solution. A patch in the shape of my favourite vehicle.

patch to cover an L shape tearIt’s not perfect, but maybe it too adds to the quirkiness of the piece.

Moral of the story. Order more fabric when the repeat is big and don’t play with big, boisterous pups. There. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Details

Pattern: Mccalls 6951
Fabric: Retro cars Print Cotton Poplin
Buttons: Local shop

mccalls m6951 view A front floral

Previous top

A Purple Pumpkin Tunic

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156

I’ve been sewing again. If you follow me in Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this make has taken me months. The actual sewing took a few hours. The decision making took weeks. I really couldn’t make up my mind which direction the vine like pattern should take. Should it run up and down the tunic, or wrap itself round the whole garment.Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 pumpkinsIn the end, Middle One said that she wanted it to wrap around. OK. Maybe I should have asked her first, seeing as it was her tunic.

She had requested a purple tunic. A girl with definite ideas, she knew which tunic pattern she wanted. It’s one I’ve used before (here and here) but this time, she wanted slight alterations to it. The sides are straight, so we took them in a bit. The result is that it’s a little bit more fitted, and there is a definite swish.

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 pumpkins outakesThe purple is quite vibrant. More so than my photos seemed to capture. It’s calling out to be put with orange. Fortunately, I finished it just in time for our annual trip to collect pumpkins. No matter that we grew our own pumpkins this year, we still had to go. A family tradition is a family tradition.

Pumpkin stall

Purple and orange just go so well. And the pattern seems to echo the pumpkin’s tendrils. A purple pumpkin, maybe.

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 in the pumpkin wheelbarrowSewing details:

Pattern: Simplicity 2156
Fabric and thread: Purple ‘Jacquard Jersey’ Stretch Polyester/Lycra Dress Fabric from Minerva Crafts

I used the knit stitch on my sewing machine, as I don’t have an interlocker and I hand sewed the hems. Fabric drapes beautifully and was easier to work with than I expected. Simplicity 2156 is straightforward. Just six pieces to sew together. Nothing complicated. It really took me no time to sew. Just weeks of procrastination!

Photos

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