Tag Archive | jacket

Little boy blue

Here are some more detailed pictures of the suit I made for Konik for Easter. The suit pattern is Butterick 6894 from 2001. I used a cotton bottom weight fabric for both the jacket and the pants. Some might think it’s cruel to make a little boy wear a suit. Let me assure you: there is no “making” here; Konik loves him some suits.

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A little twisted and rumply after a morning in church, but hey, he’s 5. It probably looked like this about two minutes after we left the house.

What is this look?!

What is this pose?!

His shirt was also a Butterick, #2164 from the ’60s by the look of the pattern art. A long time ago I had bought this at the thrift store with some other patterns. I hadn’t had a reason to really inspect the contents of this specific pattern envelope until I went to make this little button-up shirt and discovered that the sleeve piece was missing. After consulting lots of tutorials and making lots of drafts, I finally made a sleeve that would work. I wasn’t 100% pleased with it, but it worked ok. Personally, it doesn’t look comfortable, but Konik claims it’s fine. And, considering that he has worn this entire outfit four more times just since Easter, I guess he’s right because 5 year olds aren’t going to wear clothes that bother them.

IMG_7019The tie was another from Vanilla Joy’s pattern that I talked about in my last post. Konik likes that it looks like an Easter egg.

IMG_7021Still my handsome little man.

One jacket, comin’ up!

The boy needed a jacket. Or a sweater. Or something. The mornings are getting colder and the poor little guy needed some warmth for chilly fall days without hauling out the serious winter coat. He did have a jacket, but it’s faded, a size too small and covered in wood chips after Konik helped Mr. Gren bring in firewood a couple weeks ago. Yeah, I could wash it, and yeah, I could spend half an hour picking off splinters, but that still doesn’t make it the right size.

There is a cute little sweater in my knitting board book, but my knitting board is currently occupied with the very tedious and mundane project of making myself a shawl to wear over my baby bump. I really need to finish that, but there are so many more interesting projects to work on. My second thought was to crochet him a little sweater-type jacket. First was a vest and no matter what I did, it was going to turn out huge. Tore that out and found a crocheted hoodie in one of my magazines. I got about halfway through the back panel and realized that the gauge was not coming out right. Ah, using the wrong size hook. Ripped it out, started over with the right hook, and it still didn’t look right. Konik got a little fed up with me calling him over “just to measure.” Saturday morning, I sat there looking at the partially finished back to this sweater and weighed my options: 1) Tear it out and start over — again — rewriting the pattern as I went in order to come up with something that would fit him. 2) Find another pattern. 3) Forget that business.

I chose #3.

As Kenny Rogers so memorably put it, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” It was time to fold and walk away (he was talking about handicrafts, right?). At the rate I was going, the finished jacket was still a few days away, and that was banking on everything working out swimmingly, which — let’s face it — is a special kind of serendipity that doesn’t occur that often in crochet. For me, at least. The kid needed a jacket. So I chose option 3 and left my chair in the living room for the chair in my sewing room. Sewing provides a little more instant gratification than yarn arts.

I had a pattern that I bought at Value Village a few years ago when it would have been useful for the girls, but I never used it and they outgrew it. Good thing toddler sweats are unisex.

Dated 1985

Never heard of this company before. Dated 1985

Last year, I was bequeathed a bin full of various cuts of fleece. Perfect. I don’t have any separating zippers and nothing from which I could cannibalize one, so I needed to make a pull-over style jacket. That actually works out better for Konik anyways, since he has trouble with zippers, but can easily put on a pull-over by himself. And, since it rains 9 months out of the year here, a hood was in order. Oh sure, he could wear a hat, but then the rain would run down the back of his neck and I’m sure most of us have experienced how pleasant that is. Pockets are also a necessity because the boy doesn’t go anywhere without at least one matchbox car. And, yeah, they’d probably be nice for cold hands, too.

As you can see from the pattern, none of the views fulfilled all my criteria. I took the pockets from View 3 and added them to View 4, but left off the collar. No hoods to be found on this pattern, so I traced the hood from one of Rana’s jackets to use as a template.

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Mix and match

In addition to the free fleece, I also had a small amount of rib knit that I had purchased many moons ago to trim the baby sleep sacks I had made for Etsy (those will return someday. I’m still paranoid about getting potential sales items dirty in the cabin). A couple buttons left over from another project and that rounded out my supplies. Six hours later, Konik had his jacket. I love it when I can use items that I already have on hand and produce something useful and attractive. I’ll just say it: I’m pretty proud of myself.

He says it's warm and snuggly.

He says it’s warm and snuggly.

It’s roomy enough to fit easily over his clothes, but not so big that it’s going to swallow him.

IMG_2879For some reason, the way the back looks just really makes me happy.

Button placket

Button placket with a little topstitching

I made sure that the buttonholes weren’t too tight so that Konik could button and unbutton this himself. I’m all about independence, especially on school mornings when I have to get four of us presentable by 8:00. Anything that helps this process is welcome!

Hood action

Hood action

Originally, the hood was just going to be black, but when I tried it on the boy (just the hood, which his sisters thought was adorable and he thought was weird and exasperating), I could tell that it wasn’t going to quite cover his head (strange, since I traced it off one of Rana’s jackets. Makes me wonder how that hood fits her… I’ll have to pay closer attention the next time she wears it). The patterned fleece was just a long narrow strip, but fortunately, there was still enough of it left after cutting the yoke and pockets to make a nice little trim piece for the hood. One thing I didn’t take a picture of is the the little loop I sewed inside at the base of the hood so that Konik can easily hang it up on his peg. You might scoff at that, but, of all my children, he is the one who actually does hang up his coats (and puts his shoes away, and puts his clean laundry in his drawers, and clears his plate after dinner without me asking. Really, this child is amazing).

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This was my first time to use rib knit for its intended purpose as cuffs. All in all, it was a painless experience. I learned to pay attention to the direction of the stretch when preparing a cuff to sew onto the garment. Fortunately, I had enough fabric to replace my goof up. I’m really happy with how it looks.

Hands warm in the pockets

Hands warm in the pockets

Now that Konik is warm and toasty, I need to get back to that dreaded shawl. Hm, wonder what else I’ve got around here I could do instead…?

Sweet child(ren) in Paradise City

There was squealing. There was yelling. There was jumping up and down, hugging, twirling, grinning, and thank yous. And then a little bit of singing. Granota and Rana were so thrilled to find their dolls sitting under the tree when they ran down the stairs Christmas morning. That made the past several weeks worth it. But I am not sad at all that I won’t have to continue to hide those things anymore! It was beginning to be more and more of a challenge with snoopy little people asking way too many questions for their own good.

One good challenge was having several different tasks required to make the dolls. Machine sewing, hand sewing (blech), embroidery, pattern drafting, free-hand drawing, painting, failures, successes. Once again, I used my Joan Russell doll-making book and used the Indian girl pattern, which is the same I used for Rana’s cowgirl doll last year. Also, the Guns N’ Roses Photographic History book that I had received for my birthday became a sort of textbook for me, studying Axl’s features, tattoos, and clothing. All of the doll body pieces were easy to crank out one morning while Mr. Gren kept the kids occupied with a movie. I sew so often, that the kids rarely bat an eye when they hear the machine going. They did yell at me a couple of times because it was too loud and they couldn’t hear the movie that they’ve seen 3487 times.

First, heads were attached to bodies, then faces embroidered on heads. I traced Axl’s eyes, nose, and mouth from the photos in the book, trying to determine what exactly about his features makes him look like… him. The mouths were hard. See, Real Life Axl (RLA) has full and, uh, shapely lips (for lack of a better description). On a soft doll face, full lips look awfully girly, then combined with the long hair… It just wasn’t going to be good. I actually had to undo a top lip which was a little nerve-wracking; I was afraid that the phantom embroidery line would leave holes in the fabric, but it recovered quite nicely. Whew!

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So on the second doll, I just made the mouth a straight line. Kind of boring, but no illusions of girliness (After all the gifts were opened, Granota noticed that the mouths were different and asked that I make her doll have an “open” mouth. Close enough. A quick fix and she was happy).

A little Christmas morning embroidery got him right.

A little Christmas morning embroidery got him right.

Next, I painted on the tattoos which you’ve already seen on dismembered arms. There was no way I wanted to do that with them flopping around on a doll body that would constantly want to roll over and probably end up with paint in places where it shouldn’t be. Post-tattooing, the arms were quick to sew on, followed by the legs. I settled on yarn hair this time which turned out to be infinitely easier to sew into wefts than the doll hair that I used on the fairy and cowgirl dolls. It didn’t slip out as I was sewing and it seems resistant to shedding. Both good things! This time, instead of making several wefts and sewing them at different levels around the heads, I followed an online tutorial to sew the part onto the head and then make a line of stitching around, to hold the bottom layer of hair down and cover any bald spots. Then a second layer is added on top and sewn at the part and allowed to fall loose. I cut a few strands into bangs to poke out over the top of the bandanas.

The fabric choices for the clothing are one of the things I’m most proud of. Granota had requested an Axl dressed like RLA in the “Sweet Child” video. Leather jacket, leather pants, black t-shirt, cowboy boots and a blue bandana. For the jacket and the boots, I found a costume leather that seemed to have a realistic-looking full grain. The look is great, but I am a little bit concerned about the durability of this stuff. I guess time will tell.

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For the leather pants, I found a dance knit that had a leathery look.  The stretch was nice and made the pants fit nice and snug!

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The t-shirt was another dance knit and was quite thin; my machine hated this stuff and tried to eat it at every opportunity. All together, the effect comes off right!

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Rana had settled on the clothing that RLA wore in the “Paradise City” video, the one exception being she preferred his sneakers to the white cowboy boots. I did notice the other day that he does wear these sneakers in another part of the video — just not when he’s dressed in all white — so I don’t feel completely inauthentic. White leather jacket, black t-shirt, white spandex pants. I couldn’t find any faux leather in white, so I went with a heavy bottomweight cotton to give it enough stiffness. It also made painting on the logo easier since the paint probably would have smeared off a smooth fabric.

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White spandex was also elusive, so I used a white poplin that had a little bit of a stretch for the pants. The sneakers are white vinyl or somesuch.

For the shirts and jackets, I used the various patterns out of the Joan Russell book, with a little tweaking to make them work for this particular doll. The jackets were tricky. Tiny collars, turning points, and having to line the darn things! Yikes! They didn’t turn out as flawlessly as I would have liked. I was really under the gun trying to get these sewn without Granota catching on. Inexplicably, she began developing a keen interest in what I was sewing as I worked on the white jacket. Without the sides sewn together and no sleeves, it didn’t look like anything recognizable to her, but she was still very, very curious. And when that happens, it’s time to close up shop. It happened a lot more often than I wanted, leaving me precious little time to sew. Then I’d get rushed and seams turn out a little pinched and ripping it out would have just set me way back. So I squash down my perfectionist nature, look at the miniature piece of clothing with a less critical eye and decide that it will have to do.

Painting the white jacket was really fun! It made me nervous, too, though. I suck at drawing guns. They usually turn out looking like mutant candy canes. And roses can easily veer into cinnamon roll territory. Candy canes and cinnamon rolls, while tasty, will probably never be the name of a rock band. Once again using my GNR photo book, I meticulously freehand drew the band logo on the back of the jacket and was pleasantly surprised at just how well it turned out. Painting it just made it that much better! I haven’t measured it, but I’m guessing it’s just slightly larger than a silver dollar. Not a lot of room for error, but I did manage to cram in quite a bit of detail.

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For the zippers, I used a silver embroidery thread. It was very stiff and hard to work with. I had meant to add on the little side zippers on the black jacket, but in my rush to get it sewn up, I had already attached the lining. Oh well.

Bandanas weren’t a big deal, although I did have to enlist some help from a math teacher friend to figure out how big to make the square of fabric because I am pathetic at math. Both bandanas were made from fat quarters; I really looked hard to find ones with a print that would match the scale of the dolls.

The footwear nearly sent me over the edge. I didn’t want a seam running up the front of the cowboy boots, but it took me several days and several botched attempts to come up with the solution that now seems so obvious. There is one piece that goes over the top of the foot and meets in the back from the heel to the ankle. The critical piece ended up being a simple tube that wrapped around the leg and was sewn to the top piece (is there a name for that?) across the ankle and then up the back. A little easy scissorwork produced the typical cowboy boot shape at the top of the boot finished off with a zigzag stitch. Finally the sole was sewn on. As Granota noted, Axl’s feet don’t reach to the end of the boots; I told her that RLA’s feet don’t go into a point either, so it’s realistic. ha! The soft boots do have a tendency to get mushed down in the toe and look a little funny. I may need to lightly stuff the toe just to hold its shape.

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The sneakers were even more of a headache. The stiffer fabric would not lay flat over the top of the foot, so I had to fold side seams into it in order to contour the piece. The unfinished edge at the top didn’t look good, so those had to be cuffed under. Last to figure out was the little tongue that reads AXL. This piece was no bigger than my thumbnail and was not easy to maneuver. It was the afternoon of Christmas Eve and I didn’t have much time at my disposal. I probably could make a better-looking shoe with more time, especially now that I have some clue of what to do. But you know what? Rana likes them, so I like them. A red Sharpie bought that night finished them off.

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The girls were pleased with all of their Christmas gifts, but I noticed that they never left their dolls unattended all day. Even at dinner, Axl was tucked in behind them while they ate. It was such an all-consuming project for me, but the payoff is great. I’m looking forward to hearing little impromptu concerts and eavesdropping on all of the adventures that the two Axls will have. But you shouldn’t have to hear about anything Axl-related for a long time (unless you read my other blog). Hoping to finish a monkey hat for Konik soon. That should be fun, right? Thanks for reading!

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Merry Christmas!