Monday, January 15, 2018

P4P Mama Bear Joggers - TNT pant pattern that does it all!

The P4P Mama Bear Joggers (afflink) has become a total workhorse pattern that I've used at least a dozen times in the past year. The funny thing is that I wasn't that excited by it when it was first released. I didn't see myself ever wearing full length joggers and so I sort of dismissed the pattern outright.

I was an idiot. LOL

I changed my tune in the spring when I was looking for a shorts pattern for myself. It was pointed out that the cute jogger style short I was looking to make was very similar to the Mama Bear Joggers pattern, so I bought it and the obsession began. It's become a staple in my closet for 3 very different clothing items:

Casual Shorts
The first time I used this pattern was to try and make a pair of woven cotton shorts that were relaxed, but not super short. While the Joggers pattern is designed for knits/fabric with stretch, I looked at the finished pattern measurements and thought I'd give it a try with some leftover woven madras plaid. I added several inches of length, graded from a Medium hip to Large thigh, and changed the waistband to accommodate a single row of 1.25" elastic instead of 3 rows of narrower elastic. I was thrilled with my final garment!

The woven shorts were so comfy and awesome, that I then went back and made 4 more pairs out of a variety of knit fabrics. The floral french terry shorts (fabrics from So Sew English) are very casual and perfect for running around with the boys. I may not be winning any fashion awards with these, but they are insanely comfortable in the summer heat.

This bright floral liverpool knit pair is slightly dressy and works well when I'm trying to look cute-ish, but I'm melting because it's 100 degrees out.

And lastly, in denim-faced french terry from (LA Finch Fabrics) this pattern makes the perfect faux denim shorts! I wore them with everything, all of the time this summer. I made sure to add contrast top-stitching to mimic real denim shorts and back pockets. Such a classic summer staple!

Sleep Shorts
So, I liked my modified shorts pattern so much that I thought it would also be perfect for PJ shorts, which I desperately needed to replace this summer. I removed the extra length I had added, skipped the pockets and kept the waistband the same. Yup, perfect PJ shorts! (and yes, I do love fun prints for pajamas)

Casual Pants
I might not wear jogger pants to the ankles, but I started to think that I might like a cropped pair of jogger pants to wear with flats or sneakers. Again, I started with my modified shorts pattern as the base and traced it to the full pant length. Ultimately, I removed 2.5" inches of length, added a 2.5" hem and then cuffed them up. Cropped, cuffed joggers are my jam you guys! I made a pair in black french terry in the summer and wore them all of the time. Like, I couldn't keep them in my closet because I was either wearing them or they were in the laundry.

One of my last sewing projects for 2017 and first projects for 2018 were 2 new pairs of cropped joggers - one pair in olive modal french terry and one in medallion print french terry (fabrics from So Sew English). I'm not usually one for printed pants that I wear outside of the house, but this fabric just really looked like it wanted to be pants, so I went with it. I love this silhouette for comfy, casual, but still put together pants and appreciate that they work with a variety of both shoes and tops.

I am always on the hunt for good TNT (tried n true) patterns and this one obviously fits the bill for me. The fact that I can make 3 very different garments from one pattern helps me stretch my precious sewing time a bit farther, which is very appreciated. This will definitely not be the last time you see a garment sewn up using this pattern from me - aside from more summer shorts, I have plans to make a pair of true joggers in an athletic knit for hip hop class. Since I never found my ideal pants for dance class, guess I'll just have to make my own. ;) 
Stay tuned!

Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 - the year my sewing hobby exploded

One more catch up post from last year and then we'll get back to mostly current stuff. Good? Good!

I went into 2017 with a renewed love of sewing - so much so that I signed up for a 100 in 2017 challenge. I was ready to sew all the things and I couldn't wait to get started! I continued to explore Patterns for Pirates (P4P) patterns and branched out to a couple of other pdf pattern companies specializing in baby and child patterns, which were perfect for my boys and gifts for family/friends.

There were a series of things that happened over the course of several months, though,  that stand out as game-changers: 

The P4P/Made For Mermaids/Cole's Creation's Capsule Contests
In the Spring, P4P announced a Capsule Contest (in conjunction with sister sites Made for Mermaids and Cole's Creations) - create a 9 piece mini capsule using patterns or mash ups from the 3 companies and post by a certain date. While it looked like fun, I didn't give it much thought because I wasn't making myself pants yet and that seemed sort of key to creating a stand alone capsule.

Skip to a week or so later, and I had sewn up a couple of tops just because I needed them and decided to finally try to make pants. Eeek! I started with the P4P SOS pant (afflink) and used a cut of kelly green ponte that I'd had in my stash for years. They went far better than expected and it was then that I realized I still had time to make the Capsule Contest deadline. I quickly outlined the rest of my projects, found a cohesive theme and the "Black and White, Green and Stripe" capsule was created.
"Black and White, Green and Stripe"

Finally being able to make pants that were flattering and fit me well was HUGE! This was completely new for me and something that opened up a whole new world of possibilities. In fact, when they hosted their Fall Capsule Contest, I completed TWO 9 piece capsules - "Ballet Street" and "Tunics & Boots". I filled a bunch of holes in my closet and the garments I made are some of my biggest wardrobe workhorses.
"Ballet Street"

"Tunics n Boots"

Testing for George and Ginger Pattern Company
I discovered George & Ginger Pattern Co. in the spring when I tracked down their site because I loved the patterns I was seeing people make in Facebook sewing groups. If P4P/M4M is my go-to for solid basics, G&G looked like it would be my go-to for basics with an edgy twist. Kristi, the designer, put out a call for seamstress testers in the late spring and I threw my name in the ring... along with hundreds of others. I didn't think much of it, but a couple of days later, I was invited into the tester group and my jaw fell on the ground. Testing patterns has been so much fun on many levels - I've met an amazing group of women who are passionate about sewing, I've learned so much about how patterns are created/the work that goes into making them market ready and my sewing skills and speed have improved immensely. I am still so grateful that Kristi took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to test for her. I cannot wait to see what she cooks up for 2018!
Road Trip Bodysuit/Daytrip Skirt
Heatwave Hotpants/Daybreak Top
Sincerely Sawyer Sweater
Slash Tunic
Slash Tunic
Picnic Dress

Winning the P4P Next Top Tester Contest
P4P ran a contest in the early Fall to look for new seamstresses to add to their tester group. They called it the P4P Next Top Tester contest and it was open to anyone - review/edit the pattern instructions, sew up the pattern/look for edits needed, photograph and submit fit and final pictures. Again, I threw my hat in the ring and completed all of the contest steps. I was blown away when at the end of the contest, I was announced as the winner! Not only did I win a guaranteed test spot for the next 3 patterns, but I also won a huge box of fabric and a selection of free patterns. I am still so honored to be testing for the company that is responsible for rekindling my love of sewing and getting me back into the sewing groove.
Walk the Plank PJs with Essential Tank and Cocoon Cardigan
**Wiggle Dresses**

**Ragdoll Raglans**

See, 2017 was BANANAS for me! LOL By the end of the year, I had all but stopped buying ready to wear clothing for myself and was feeling so happy and confident with my clothes and personal style. If someone had told me that the above would have been my year in sewing, I would never have believed them, but I am so grateful for ALL of it.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SAHM Style and how I found my way back to sewing

After having my first son in 2011, I decided to stay home with him permanently. Even with a very rough newborn + infant period, it has been a great decision for our family and I'm so blessed to have been given this much dedicated time with my boys. My wardrobe, however, needed to change to reflect being home instead of sitting in an office. 

I didn't sew all that much for myself after having my oldest, mostly due to time, but also not finding the kinds of easy, but stylish knitwear patterns I wanted to make. While I had some great skirt and dress patterns that were perfect for the office, I needed easy separates that could look put together, but made sense at the park, parent group, etc. I wanted to sew basic t-shirts, tank tops, tunics, cardigans - things that were cute and comfy, but I just wasn't excited about the patterns I was finding. I did make a couple of knit maxis that I liked, but that was about the extent of sewing for myself. 
Self-drafted maxi from a Target skirt
McCalls 6567 (fit pre and post pregnancy)
After having my second son, I sewed a few things for them here and there, but in the summer of 2016 I really felt the urge to start sewing for myself again. Frankly, I missed it. 

I tried a couple of Kwik Sew top patterns because I had good success with their knit dress patterns, but they were just meh. Even after fiddling with them, I wasn't happy with the finished garment. I had never really found shirt patterns that I liked, even after trying several from different pattern companies and I was pretty frustrated. 

Around the same time, I discovered the world of custom knit fabric - holy moly! - and was re-introduced to PDF pattern designers. Indie pattern companies were just starting to take hold when I stopped sewing much in 2011 so this was quite a new thing for me. I kept seeing Patterns for Pirates (afflink) mentioned on the Facebook sewing groups I had joined and decided to check them out. I started with their Slim Fit Raglan (afflink) pattern with really low expectations. I graded to my measurements, dug out some knits that had been in my stash for months and sewed it up. 

Y'ALL. It. Was. A. Perfect. Fit.
I was completely gobsmacked! I had finally found a basic t-shirt pattern that I loved. I made a couple more because I still couldn't believe the pattern fit me so well and then started to look at their other basic shirt patterns. Suddenly, I had a whole bunch of me-made shirts in my closet that I loved, that fit me well, that made me feel good. It was the kick that I needed to start sewing again regularly and it's why P4P will forever have a special place in my heart.

Raglan in bamboo knit (and some silly children)
Raglan in cotton french terry
At the beginning of 2017, I was like a woman on a mission! LOL I had at least one pattern company that was designing the types of silhouettes I wanted to sew and I was excited to really jump into the world of PDF patterns. Little did I know that I would continue to refine my SAHM style and my sewing hobby would kind of explode.