Tag Archives: slow fashion babies

creative-hours

the cutest winter coat

Every now and then* I get a little over-ambitious.

*all the freaking time

Last month my ambition led me to think that I should absolutely, completely, whole-heartedly sew a coat for my son for the winter. I had about a yard of dark gray wool in stash, and I pictured an adorable little double-breasted dress overcoat. Instead, after about half an hour of Googling, I settled on this Little Goodall pattern.

foxcoat2

Can I tell you the saga of this coat? Let me tell you the saga, please please, please.  There are a few useful tips at the end, but if you want the full feeling of living through punchline after punchline of sewing mishap, read happily onward.

First of all, I impulse-bought the pattern.* I called Joann’s, and yes, they had it in stock, and they set it aside for me. I swung by on the way home from work, and also picked up the contrasting colors for the fox’s face, and a flannel lining fabric (not pictured above for reasons that will become obvious), and buttons and thread based around the gray wool. I also picked up some wool batting, because I thought it would be smart** to quilt some extra layers in there for extra warmth.

*I know, I know. Never impulse buy!
**trying to be smart results in more crafting-related deaths*** than any other single reason
***project deaths, that is

Then I got home, put the new fabric in the wash, laid out the pattern, and realized that I didn’t have enough gray wool.  Like, not nearly enough gray wool. I also realized that the smallest size of the pattern is 3T, and, as you may or may not know, my kiddo isn’t even 2 yet.

OK, well, we’ll roll up the sleeves and he can wear it for more than one winter, I thought. That’s smart, it’s going to take a lot of effort to sew a coat. And he can layer sweaters underneath. It’ll be fine. Right? It’ll be fine?

Lack of outer fabric was a problem, though, a true-blue serious roadblock. I know our Joann’s doesn’t carry any 100% wool that I could use for the outer layer (and my knitter’s snobbery was kicking in. Wool is the warmest. I wanted all wool, not 10% wool felt). I hopped online. And realized that it would cost another $40 to buy and ship the kind of fabric I wanted. I love my son, but an $80 coat? Even spread over a couple years’ use and counting in the fun I would have making it? It seemed like a little much.

So I put the project in timeout (this happens a lot in my studio). And then I had a brainwave – I got the gray wool from Lancaster Creative Reuse a few years ago. Maybe I could get some more wool there!

Lo and behold, LCR came through for me. They had several options, in fact, all under $5. I settled on the thicker, camel-colored, herringbone weave you see in these photos.

Now I had gray thread, gray buttons, and lining fabric that didn’t match my camel-colored wool.

Back to Joann’s. Return the buttons. Return the thread. Buy the right buttons. Buy new thread. Buy three times as much thread as you will need, because you think the quilting will use a lot (spoiler alert, it doesn’t). Excavate a new lining from stash (super cute doggies, no?).

foxcoat3

Then let’s line up all the layers (outer wool, thick felt interfacing, batting, and lining fabric) and realize oh cuss, just quilting these layers together will max out the height of the foot. What am I going to do when it’s seam-time?

Well, I’ll figure it out, I thought. And started to quilt. This turned out to be a secret stroke of genius for keeping my edges roughly even. There’s actual useful piece of information #1: quilt your layers! It’s good!

quilted

Let’s skip ahead a few days to the actual seaming: yes, the many layers are a bit of a problem. I get the body constructed, though. I even get the hood put together, the eyes and nose appliqued on, and the hood attached to the body. Tip #2: go ahead and use the longest stitch length your machine has. There’s no other way to go when you’re dealing with this much stuff. 

Setting in tiny sleeves, though? Not gonna happen on the machine. I sewed them in by hand. This took days. But it is sturdier than you might think. I doubled my thread and used a back-stitch, put on pretty music and took my time.

The lining is added separately, at the very end, and I decided there was simply no way I could manage that on the machine, either. Plus, I always meant to learn how to do more than whip-stitch things. Here before me, I had the perfect opportunity to improve my slip stitch.

Are you sure you can't speed this story up, Mom?
Are you sure you can’t speed this story up, Mom?

OK, OK. Let’s get to the very last punchline. I did finish the coat, over the course of a month. It is super cute. It is also super big. And last year’s down winter coat, the one I was sure would be too small? The one I was in such a rush to replace? I decided to put it on S, you know, to make myself feel better about all that work.

It still. freaking. fits. 

creative-hours

slow fashion October: WORN

I just wrote the words waist-boob problem? in my sketchbook, which is newly full of sweater ideas, some of which may be suffering from bad proportions at the moment. So, yes, my friends, my experience designing a pullover for Knittin’ Little has energized me.

Also, my beautiful, wonderful, amazing toddler has decided to start sleeping through the night again (knock on wood). So, while I’m feeling like an energetic mother, let’s talk #slowfashionOctober for kids. Karen‘s prompt this week is basically my manifesto for my son’s wardrobe:

second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

As much as I hate a top 10 list, I really, really love handmade things in a little kids’ handmade wardrobe, and I have made a lot of terrible mistakes in taking care of those things. I hope a list saves you a little time and trouble. Here are the things that are dead simple, make my life easier, and enable my habit of #slowfashionbabies:

1. In the summertime, let your baby eat while wearing just a diaper. Or, at the very least, take off the handknit sweater before feeding.

peas-and-tomatoes

2. If your baby is prone to spit up, just keep a bib on him when he’s wearing a handknit sweater. A friend made some like these adorable ones for her kiddo, and they are, well, freaking adorable. And can be easily made from thrifted t-shirts or scraps or whatever fits your slow-fashion mandate.

3. If you suspect your baby has a blowout poopy diaper… take the handknit sweater off and place in a safe place before changing. Do not ask how I know this.

4. I don’t worry about superwash v. non-superwash when knitting for my Little. I look for yarns that don’t pill and will be long-lasting, regardless of fiber content. We just have a house rule: all sweaters for all ages are washed by me, because my superpower is remembering which things need to be hand washed. I have also started to make the effort to use these labels in every finished piece to prevent disasters. Or, you could order your own custom labels. I keep intending to do that, but, you know… toddlers/work/etc.

5. When do I handwash things? It sounds onerous, right? Actually, no. I have one designated day when I bake bread and do laundry and sweep, etc. I keep a pile of sweaters to be washed (usually quite small, because if you take care, you don’t have to wash wool very often), and each week plop one into a sink of Soak right before I mix up the bread. By the time the bread is ready to rise, I can pop back to the bathroom and spread the garment out to block/dry.

6. Lengthen things. When I’m knitting a baby sweater, I add 1″+ to the length of the sweater body and sleeves. I can always turn up the cuffs until he gets older. So far, that’s meant he can still wear most of the 6-month sweaters at 21 months – he’s growing taller a lot faster than he’s growing wider. And knitting stretches beautifully to accommodate all kinds of widths. (Full disclosure: my tiny one is at the very bottom of the growth charts, so I’m not sure how much the success of this strategy is dependent on having a slow-growing babe.)

DSC_8762

On second thought, let’s call this my top 6 list, OK? If slow fashion can be about bucking trends, surely my post structure can follow suit.

Any other good ideas you want to send my way? I welcome them all! Especially as I’m mapping out my Christmas/winter wardrobe making!