Quick Sew – Style Arc Harper Jacket

To keep from getting burnout and frustrated with the Rucci suit, I decided to pencil in simple projects and UFOs between each piece.  Today, it’s the Harper Jacket from Style Arc.  Later this week, I hope a UFO, then the muslin for the Rucci jacket.

Easy, throw on waterfall jacket
From the Style Arc Website.

I purchased the Harper-Skye-Sammi trio to make a dressy/business casual outfit.  I made the Skye top, but I really don’t like it know that I’ve worn it a few times (needs major fit alterations, I’ve decided).  The version for the outfit was going to have a Skye top in a gold silk charmeuse, so it would drape better, perhaps I’ll make it once I figure out how to improve its wear-ability.

The sourness on the outfit continued, because the blue knit I ordered doesn’t really work with the navy-dusted-with gold tropical wool suiting set aside for the Sammi pants. But I decided to make it anyway, just because.  Oh, my sourness continued, because I’m not terribly fond of raw edges.  So imagine my surprise – I like it.

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My dress form no longer stands up straight, the jacket really is even from left to right. 

The fabric:  The pattern calls for a stable knit or a drapey woven.  I went back and forth between this one and a St. Johns doubleknit (which I think I would have preferred).  It’s a viscose/wool boucle knit (60/40). It’s not thick, per se, but it does have some loft.  While it’s beautiful, and has the perfect drape, this is going to be a warm jacket.  Considering our winter is very short, I’m considering keeping this one at the office to battle the frigid A/C!

Construction and Instructions:  Style Arc keeps their directions to a minimum, but they do have additional instructions printed on the patterns.  Pay attention – the default seam width is 3/8″.  In general, if you can sew, you can make this very easy jacket (in an afternoon).  I always find it helpful to keep a copy of the Vogue Sewing guide just in case.  Still, I never quite figured out what they meant by mitering the corner turn. By the way, this jacket is very similar in construction (for the body) to the Rucci blouse (1437).

My only real quibble is with the back neck seam.  First, the directions suggest a French seam here.  Not really possible with this knit (too thick).  Second, I found that I didn’t like the collar up, but folded over – your seam will show, so choose carefully.  I ended up doing a messy flat-fell.

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Small details:  I used a clapper to get seams, especially crossing ones, flat.  I also top-stitched the shoulders, back, neck, and side seams 1/4 inch. I like it, and it helps keep the insides more finished.  I serged the armhole seams. I also decided early on (from others’ reviews) that I wasn’t going to use the hook and eye closures.

Fitting:  I made a size ten, and it fits beautifully, hitting right at the top of the high hip in back (very nice).  I normally wear a 12 in the big 4; Style Arc’s fit guide suggested a ten.  The front drapes nicely, but doesn’t hang like in the drawings.  I don’t mind high back collars, but without interfacing, this neck slouches, so I folded it over.

What I learned:  go ahead and try something out of your comfort zone.  This is a nice jacket, if I bit casual.  I still don’t like raw edges.  I’m not sure I will make it again, as I have other jacket styles on the list.  But it will keep me very warm in the cold office.

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Thought I got that dog hair.  Yes, this is the fabric my dog decided was his.

Style Arc Skye Top

img_2466I’ve been working on improving my wardrobe, both everyday and work.  It turns out, finding a good top pattern for wovens, that also works for my body and personality, is really challenging.  I’ve been perusing Nordstrom, and with their liberal return policy, getting a sense of what works beyond the basic blouse, but still trying new things with patterns and fabrics.  Personally, knits don’t work well in this climate – too clingy – and fitted designs don’t work as well with my middle-aged weight gain (and clingy in humidity).

I originally bought this gorgeous blue and white stripe stretch cotton sateen (from Gorgeous Fabrics), with Nicola Fineti’s crop top in mind (Vogue 1486).  I knew from the outset it would be too short, and that the oh-so-trendy crop top wouldn’t work for me right out of the envelope.  But given the construction,  I had a minimum number of seams to match.  Spoiler – it didn’t work.  The muslin showed it to be much shorter than it looks!  As in, 4 inches above the navel!  Granted, I’m long waisted,  but…  And something was weird about the neckline, ‘sleeves’, and bust darts.  Oh, I will play around with the muslin eventually, but I’ve set that aside.

img_2461I turned to the Style Arc Skye top.  This is a really cute top and I like it when I don’t raise my arms and have the right bottoms (I’m wearing the Style Arc Anna pants). I love the fabric’s weight, stripes, and colorway. (Check out that matching!)

I didn’t make a muslin, but I wish I did.  It’s shorter than you would think.  The front hits be about one inch below the navel, so it’s also slightly cropped. And it turns out, I don’t really like crop tops.  I will make this again, but I’m going to be adding two inches to the midsection.  One inch will be between the armcyse and the bust dart (which is too high) and one in the midsection proper. Why? Where the top joins at the sides, with its cute shirt-tail curved hem, is far too high up for my comfort… though with a high-waisted skirt or pants it would work.  I can’t tuck this in, so it’s a boxy silhouette.

The baimg_2469ck has a keyhole neckline, but it turns out that I don’t need it to pull the top on – I always forget to unbutton when I change.

Construction-wise, this is easy.  Based on the website, I chose size 10, though the fit seems a bit off, perhaps a size smaller, especially if a drapier fabric? Tips:  neaten (serge/overlock) your edges prior to sewing, complete the arm “hem” after the side seams.  I also went a bit narrower than the recommendation for the top-stitching.

As always, photography is not my forte, so forgive me.  These pictures were taken after wearing several times and are wrinkled from wear.

 

 

Hot weather comfort: Style Arc Anna Pant + McCall’s 7411

I’ve been away for a while, at 8000 feet, with no humidity.  I’m back in Florida, and not only is my sewing mojo in full swing, it says: comfort clothes, please; nothing too tight!  So, flowing  linen pants paired with a loose cotton voile top was my choice.  I’ve had the Style Arc Anna pant on the docket for a while, and decided to pair it with View C of McCall’s 7411 tank.  The navy stretch linen and the printed cotton voile are both from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I love the fabrics absolutely and both were very easy to work with.  The Style Arc Anna pants are fantastic, the top doesn’t pass the wearability test.

As always, photography is not my strong suit, the pictures are barely adequate.

Style Arc Anna: This is a straight leg pant, with a drawstring.  This pattern is super easy to make and goes together well.  If I make it again, however, I will purchase the pattern, rather than use the PDF.  I had a lot of trouble with lining everything up, and I’m pretty sure the pants are slightly off grain as a result.  I’ve used many other PDFs before, but this is my first Style Arc attempt – it may be my printer.

From the Style Arc website:Anna Pant - Straight leg drawstring pant, casual & sporty

I really love my Lily Pulitzer beach pants, but not the $180 price tag that comes with them. I wear the medium in Lily; here I sewed the 10 with only one modification.  The crotch curve (more of an L than a J) and rise match the Lily pant perfectly.  However, I wanted to make sure that the leg had enough ease to swish – and my thighs measure 23″ at their fullest point (hey, I run). So, I added 1/4 inch to the outside front and back seams, for a total 1/2 inch each leg.  Perfect – not tight when I sit, and the right amount of flowy beach swish when I sit.

The lily pant has three inches of ribbing for a lower rise pant, and the drawstring is merely decorative.  I didn’t have ribbing, so I constructed the fold-over waistband as directed.  I did switch out the fabric drawstring for navy 1/2 inch twill tape (much more comfortable, less bulky) and used 1/4 inch eyelets instead of button holes.

Last, an important improvement over the white Lily pants; – the 31.5 inch inseam is perfect to wear with flats/flip-flops.  The Lily pants are longer, requiring 3 inch heels, hemming, or rolling up.

This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I like it enough to try another, especially in pants.  I also love these pants and can see myself wearing these regularly.

McCall’s 7411 Layered Tank:

From McCall’s webpage, view C

I chose this pattern, but wasn’t thrilled with it.  The line drawings showed potential, even though I didn’t like the way it fit the model. I thought it was simply a lack of effort from the manufacturer, especially since the pressing job was less than adequate.  I also thought the neckline was boring.  I thought I could improve on this one, but I was wrong.

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There is a lot of ease here.  I mean a lot.  I wear a 12, but sized down to the small (8-10).  The finished measurements for the medium are 41″ (bust), 44″ (waist) and 37.5″ (bust) and 40.5″ for the small.

I decided that I wanted to add piping to the neckline and armholes, though I considered other options.  I made my own piping using the facings from view A as a guideline (cut on the bias) with 1/4″ piping.  This decision led me to abandon the order of construction.

I had never made my own piping before, nor added it to a neckline.  I referenced a few sources, but none that I found quickly suggested how to do it sandwiched this way.  I found, after doing the neckline, that the piping foot did not give me a tight “pipe” or abutment to the fabric edge.  I used a traditional zipper foot and was far more successful in getting the look I wanted. You can see the piping in the pictures below, and the rearview problems as well.

For the neck, I made the piping, stay-stitched the edges, then basted it to the overlay.  I then added the base layer and stitched.  I closed the back opening as directed at this point in the directions.  I did the same thing with piping the armsyce, except this time I stitched the piping to the overlay, pressed and then hand stitched the base layer in place (I couldn’t figure out how to turn things otherwise).

I was surprised at how comfortable the fabric is, but how terribly this wears.  I took great pains with the pressing, yet I still end up with the wrinkles and pulls in the chest and “sleeves” as in the model.  I also get gaping at the back opening, and it’s not just from the pose.  The darts are all wrong – two short, wrong angle.  I thought, okay, fine for grocery shopping.  But all the fit/pressing issues only got worse in real life.  So, this shirt is for the charitable pile.  I love the fabric, though and will be re-ordering it, but I doubt I’ll make the top again.

 

 

 

Sewing for Others

IMG_1854I’ve got [too] many projects cut out for myself, half started, nearly finished, planned. Some are easy, others quite challenging.  I’ve gotten myself in the situation of not knowing where to start to finish.  Well, not quite true.  I know I’m going to finish the Marfy top next, in a beautiful print silk chiffon.  But it’s going to require patience and focus… and I’ve been working on overcoming a nasty cold. Or will it be the Marcy Tilton raincoat?

So, how to keep sewing when your have a nasty cold and are super exhausted?  Say yes when your niece politely asks for a new apron.  Her mom and I selected a pattern via texting and then I was off to JoAnns, where I bought cotton prints for not one, not two, but three aprons for McCall’s 5720.  Oh, and some new Star Wars Force Awakens flannel for pajama bottoms for my son.

M5720, Misses'/Chldren's/Girls' Aprons
From the McCall’s website.

McCall’s 5720, view B:  I decided to surprise my sister and niece by making coordinating aprons for them. This is a simple pattern, and goes together fairly quickly.  The fabric is okay – lots of body which is fine for this view (and loads of sizing, that washing didn’t eliminate).    I have a very strong aversion to rick-rack, and an aversion to most trims I find at JoAnn’s, so I ordered some 1/4″ rayon braid in orchid from MJ Trimming.  The buttons are JoAnn’s. The most challenging elements were the patch pockets and attaching the braid neatly.

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Like many McCall’s patterns for crafts/costumes, it uses 1/2 inch seam allowances. Still, on several pattern pieces, like the ties, it calls for 5/8 inch seam allowances. If you follow the pattern pieces, the ties won’t align with the dots.  It doesn’t always call for the best techniques for good results. I especially disliked the idea of the narrow, essentially shirt-tail, hem on those deep curves.  On my niece’s apron, I did the hems using Claire Schaeffer’s way. While they are very stiff, you do get a better result than when you use the pattern directions, which I used on my sister’s version. You can see the puckering at the waist – that’s from the finishing, not from how I tied it.

There is an error in the placement of the notches on pieces 7 & 8 of the girl’s pattern.  they don’t align at all (not even close).

This came together quickly, and it was off to the post office.  My niece was very happy that her mother got one too!.  On the other hand, I made the largest girl size (7-8), and it looks mighty small (though it works).

McCall’s 5720, view C: Since I was there, and I had the pattern, I thought I would make view C for myself.  I was curious to see how the layered flounces would look on an adult, and I needed a “pretty” apron for when I have company (or I will wipe on my good clothes without thinking – I’m a messy cook).

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I made a mistake!  I meant to make the bottom layer the dark blue, not the middle.  I didn’t catch it until I cut it out.  I think I would like it marginally better if the base color was the darker blue.  The pictures are washed out, but the three prints are meant to work together in a quilt, I guess.  Aesthetically, in the end, I don’t really like this for me.  And, the fabric has a lot of body, so it adds weight to the bottom half of the figure.

This view went together much more professionally than the other one – a simpler design, no real issues. There is an error in the directions however, between steps 12 and 13. You need to fold the waistband down, right sides together, stitch, and trim.  Again, watch the seam allowances and hems, which differ on the pattern pieces, specific directions and general directions.

Blank Slate PJ Bottoms: I said I wasn’t going to use this pattern again. Then it got cold (yes, it gets below freezing in my part of Florida).  My son also decided he liked his pjs styled like his dads: bottoms with a t-shirt. Most of the problems I have with the pattern are with the top, and the fit on the bottoms is spot on right now.

IMG_1857I let my son help me.  This upped the difficulty level.  He wanted to randomly mix the two prints; I convinced him of this more subtle variation.  He was a good helper – he really wants to learn how to sew, and is taking sewing lessons after school.  He just wasn’t always patient or wanted in my lap to see better.

A couple of notes about this flannel:  it’s not intended for children’s sleepwear.  It’s also pretty low quality.  What I bought was very much off grain, and I wasn’t able to straighten the grain. The red Republic emblem bleeds, even on cold, even after multiple washings.

Note to self: When purchasing fabric from a place like JoAnns, buy extra.  Every single piece was cut poorly, sometimes resulting in several lost inches.  When I order online, I almost always order extra, because I often change my mind about how I will use the fabric, and figure extra is good. Need to do the same in person, too.

 

 

The Force PJs: Blank Slate, try two

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I haven’t been sewing much lately.  The usual reasons… too tired, too unmotivated, etc.  It’s not that I haven’t planned projects, but… In any case, two days before Christmas, I decided to make the little guy new PJs. I’d already purchased the fabric from JoAnns – the new Star Wars cottons for The Force Awakens (heroes, of course). Note: the fabric states “not for sleepwear.”

I’d used the Blank Slate Lazy Day Pajamas pattern before (about 8 months ago, but can’t link to the blog post).  This time I went up two sizes (how he grows), made the long sleeve/pant combo and added piping.  Unfortunately, I had the same problems with this pattern as the last time. Nonetheless, he loves them, even if it is still too warm for long PJs.

I love the style.  I didn’t bother to match the pattern, which means that Rey’s head is on Chewbacca’s body. It really bothers me, but a 4.5 year old boy finds that hysterical.  The piping turned out to be really easy.

The real problems with the pattern are:  lack of grain lines, lack of match points, and the facing does not fit properly, so it does not lie flat.  I was anticipating it this time, so I made doubly sure that I cut the right pieces/sizes from the pdf and constructed it properly.

Shorts! Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped, that is.

I met my husband a little over eleven years ago.  And eleven years ago this past week, we had a weekend date in Sedona, Arizona.  We went hiking, and I wore shorts.  When the pictures came back (!), I vowed that I would never, ever, wear shorts again (except running shorts while running).  My legs looked like sausages – the cut and length were all wrong.  I’ve stuck to dresses and skirts and pants.  And, yes, they make skirts and skorts just for hiking.

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Now I live in a climate that is summer for about 9 months of the year, and I’m better at sewing, so I’ve been contemplating making shorts that fit and flatter my body.  When Rachel posted her review of the Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped shorts, I was smitten.

Trouble was, could I make these work for me, when I don’t have Rachel’s long, slender legs?  I thought the scalloped hem would help lengthen the leg and not cut it off in an awkward way.  Upshot, I like the shorts – even if I haven’t seen a picture of me wearing them yet (always the test right?)

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What I liked:

  • Awesome instructions!  Well marked pdf pattern, making assembling the thing less of a pain.
  • That beautiful, faced scallop hem!  It really is easy to do and makes the shorts more upscale.
  • The shaped/contour waistband and directions for applying the waistband (new to me, led to a more professional result, less handwork).
  • Directions for adjusting the crotch depth.  Wow! what a difference.  I was skeptical of reducing as much as it recommended, and did 1/4 inch less.  This worked with the muslin (non stretch med-heavy twill), but my fashion fabric had stretch, so I should have followed their guideline. I made a medium, and this was the only alteration I made. I’m slightly larger than a 12 in Vogue, not quite a 14.
  • Good coverage on the bum, without being frumpy (again, I think the front scallop makes the difference).

What I did differently:

  • Not much.  No really, I pretty much followed the directions with two exceptions.
  • I used my own (well Lladybird’s) method to insert an invisible zipper.  I didn’t like the result using the instructions on the muslin, so I went back to the TNT method.
  • Left of the back welt pockets.  I couldn’t get them to work in the muslin, so I abandoned the idea.  I think I like the shorts better without, but I really need to learn how to do these.
  • The fabric, the last bit of a stretch tropical wool from Gorgeous Fabrics that I’ve used three times previously (two skirts, pants), is NICE.  The quarter inch top stitching is nice on the more casual twill, but for this fabric, it looked way more professional to stick with 1/8 inch edgestitching.

IMG_0004What I will do differently:

  • The zipper is currently inserted in the side seam with the pocket. The bulk of the zipper, pocket, and pocket lining (cotton batiste) means the zipper doesn’t lay flat.  It annoys me!   Next time I will do like Rachel and put it in the CB seam.

Wearability:

  • I’m traveling a lot right now, and wore these in Miami last week.  Black wool in Miami heat and humidity?   Perfectly comfortable.
  • They’ve stretched a bit, super comfy, but a teensy bit too big.  Just something to work on for the next pair.

I’ve been and will be super busy with work, so pictures and blogging are limited.  Wait, so is sewing.  I had planned to finish a silk tunic for these shorts, but won’t be sewing consistently for a while.  Once I get the top made, I’ll blog it and provide pictures of the whole outfit.  That’s when I will know for sure if the style really works for me!

Little Boys, PJs, and Star Wars

IMG_1272My son is a Star Wars fanatic.   Not yet four, never seen the movies, but LOVES Star Wars  – in Lego form preferably.  So I made him Star Wars PJs.

The Pattern:  Blank Slate Lazy Day Pajamas, size 4T.

IMG_1278The Fabric: a cotton from JoAnns with Imperial and Rebel ships, including the Millennium Falcon.  Not intended for sleepwear.

My Thoughts: 

  • Easy enough, though not without issues.  The shorts were super easy.
  • The fit for 4T was spot-on, unlike the McCalls PJs (6236) I made at Christmas.  Though he’s grown, it’s been in height, not girth, so he still swims in those.
  • I made tons of changes for the pattern – no cuffs – he needed shorts/short sleeves since its summer here; no piping.
  • No grains lines or match points for the pattern. Could have used more for the shirt.
  • Attaching the collar and facing was not easy – in fact, I think I did something wrong or the facing is drafted wrong.  It does not fit the top/neckline.  I had to add some “darts” in the facing at the shoulders to get it to lay flat – excess fabric.  Because of this, I won’t be making it again.
  • This gave me more practice using the new serger on finishing seams, which is good.

IMG_1274Of course, he doesn’t care about the issues, he has Star Wars pjs.  But he wouldn’t sit still for photos. (He really didn’t want his picture taken).

BTW, I am looking for suggestions for good quality men and boy’s patterns.

Next up,  a simple linen skirt.  I’m still working too much and exhausted, so simple items for a while before getting back to complex and interesting sewing.

Little Hip Skirt, version 1, for my niece.

The fabric, very spring like!
The fabric, very spring like!

I made the Little Hip Skirt from Favorite Things Patterns, using an ITY knit from Gorgeous Fabrics (sold out).  I made it for her for Christmas, but I only recently received photos of her wearing it (and she was a reluctant model).  But she does love it!

A reluctant model.
A reluctant model.

The first skirt I made for her was from Butterick, and while she loved it, it was way too big for her.  I decided to make the LHS for her, but one size down (this was a knit). The fit is much better, yet she still has plenty of room for growing.

The pretty floral was very stable to sew and took no time at all to make.  This version is the four panel, full circle skirt, double layered.  It has a bias cut yoke, and elasticized waist. I did make the belt, but not the loops (they looked terrible, so I did thread loops).

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I made this so long ago now that I’m having some memory issues – I do know that I think it would be better with a lighter weight fabric.  I also got the report that a wider strip of elastic would be better (calls for a 3/8th inch elastic).

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Look closely, and you’ll see a gap between the tape and the fabric, just to the right of the presser foot.

I do remember this:  for some reason when I sew knits on my regular sewing machine, the fabric “pulls away” from the marked seam line.  I know I’m not describing it right.  In the photo, the fabric was lined up to the yellow tape to make a half inch seam.  When I started to stitch, the fabric pulled away to make a narrower seam. Any thoughts?

Anyway, it’s cute, it fits her, she likes it. I’ve got another variation on the LHS on the cutting table (the A-line button front).  As soon as I figure out the new serger, I’ll get going on it.

and, the close-up.
and, the close-up.

Beach Towel Hoody (BS Baha Hoody)

IMG_1187My little guy (3.5 years) is taking swimming lessons.  Outside in February.  The pool is heated (hot) but the air temps are in the 50s and 60s (I know, that’s balmy for many of you) and class is at sunset.  When he gets out of the pool he’s shaking like a leaf!  All the kids line up for cookies afterward wrapped head to toe in towels, and the instructors place cookies in their mouths like they are baby birds.  The little guy needed free hands and the ability to walk quickly to get inside to the shower.IMG_1183

I’ve had the Blank Slate Baja Hoody in my stash for some time – I wanted to make it for beach trips. But he needed it now!  So we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, and he chose an over-sized beach towel that he liked.  Fun!  A beach towel?  One of the suggestions from the pattern (and messy, like all terry, to sew with, btw).

I made 4T, which is what he wears in RTW.  It fits fine, but it would be easier for him to put it on if I sized up (to be fair, he was rushing to put it on).  I liked that he chose a stripe – it gave me practice with matching stripes.

IMG_1186The pattern is super easy to make, and the directions are very detailed (except the way she has you attach the hood, but that could be me).  I made this in an evening.

I did a few things differently:

  • I eliminated the center front seam, and cut on the fold.  This made matching stripes easier and simplified the pattern. This meant that I now needed to do a bound slit for the neck opening.
  • I cut the pattern so the lower hem was the towel hem – I also lengthened the top by three inches to help give more warmth.   Doing the towel hem made sense – simplified the sewing, taking advantage of a pre-existing feature. (This does mean that you are ignoring nap for the front and back).
  • I lengthened the sleeves out to the towel sides – again to take advantage of the pre-existing selvedge.  I got lucky – perfect length to make this his size as a long-sleeved top.
  • I didn’t have double-fold bias tape on hand (as recommended by the directions), so I used one inch twill tape to finish the edges.  This came out okay.  Better than the tape, but marginally.
  • Placed the pocket to have horizontal stripes against the vertical.

IMG_1188A few things I would do differently next time (because there will be several more next times):

  • I would do the pocket differently.  I didn’t practice how I would do the twill tape, so it’s off.  I would finish the sides of the pocket with binding, but not the bottom edge. Not sure how I would attach the pocket, but differently, to get a better, more professional result.
  • I would practice the bound slit!  This looks fine in the pictures, but I know it will fall apart in the wash eventually.
  • Consider a button/loop closure at the neckline (for warmth).
  • Instead of lengthening the sleeve by extending the pattern, consider making regular sleeves, trimming up the body (have the shoulders extended, but not fully as in the pattern), and setting the new sleeves in flat.
  • Cut in a single layer layout (with terry and the thickness).

IMG_1189I like sewing for him, especially since the indie companies don’t ignore little boys.  It’s got me thinking that perhaps I should buy a serger (for easier seam finishes.)IMG_1182

We took the pictures inside, as it was pouring rain outside (and we still had practice outside). I also took them with my phone, so the quality is not as I would have liked. (Didn’t want to bring the nice camera out in the weather or to a pool).

All in all, I’m pleased with the result, even though I know all the flaws.  I feel pretty good about my almost perfectly matched stripes.  The little guy loves it (or at least the hood and pocket).  And my husband said, “that looks good, really really good.”