Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Shaped Back Opening Hack

For the back of the night dress in the previous post I decided to do a little experimenting with the back.   I made a half circle shaped opening to change up the simple style a little bit.

This is what it looks like:  (my scissors are labeled fabric yet "someone" still used them to hack up cardboard or something else equally horrifying!)

This is actually pretty easy to add and you can do any shape you want (I was thinking of doing a star, but decided not to push my luck sewing in the middle of the night!) 

First, assemble the Vitality Racerback as instructed in the pattern.   Get the bra sewn, and the tank, but stop before basting them together.

Next figure out what shape you want, I just cut a piece of paper and laid it out until I liked it.   This "pattern" will be the exact size of your hole when you are done, so no need to add seam allowance or anything like that.

Trace the pattern piece on the right side of the bra (in the next steps I switched this because I prefer the bra hem inside out).     I just use washable crayola markers for sewing patterns, they are cheap, wash out easy, and they are all over the house!

Layer the bra over the tank lining up the arm and neck openings.   The WRONG side of the bra touching the RIGHT side of the tank (remember I switched my bra inside out here).

Pin all over the place, my pinning looks crazy because this fabric is super soft and moves all over the place - you want to put enough pins that the two layers line up, and around your "hole" shape so that stays still while you sew.

Now take it to your machine and stitch right on the line you drew.   Make sure you pivot the fabric at any corners to make them nice and neat.   Remove pins as you go if they are poking you, and be careful not to catch any random bits of fabric in there from underneath.

Take all the pins out when its sewn.

Next, try and find some sharp scissors that nobody ruined, and cut out your "hole" leaving a seam allowance on the inside.   At corners, clip a little "v" shape so it lays flat when you turn it.

See how well my scissors work?

Now take the bra and stuff it through the hole.  Prod it as necessary to get everything to lay flat, and then press.    Next topstitch around the edge of the hole, this helps it to stay flat although you can skip this if your fabric seems to be cooperating without it.

My soft fabric doesn't like to lay flat for pretty pictures.

But thats ok, because when you put it on, it lays how it should!

It took way too many tries to get this picture so its kinda blurry, its much easier when I can get the kid to take pictures of my back!

Ta-dah!   A fun twist on the Vitality Tank!

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Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Nightdress Hack

So for whatever reason, Levi decided to wear my nightdress.   And when I pulled it out of the wash I found this: 

He ate it!   The weirdo kid literally ate the sleeve of my nightdress.  

I was making a birthing gown for a customer and really liked how soft the fabric was, so I bought extra for myself, so I could make a replacement.

I used the Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Tank (which I tested a while back), as my basis.     The pattern comes with a tank, sports bra, or combo of the two.   There is also a maternity add-on you can get.

I modified the pattern a bit to get a simple A-line dress.

First, I figured out how long I wanted it to be.   I wasn't too worried about an exact length so just held the measuring tape where I thought the neckline would start and measured to about my knees.  
Next, if you want a specific width for the hem, figure out what you want that to be and divide by 4.    I just eyeballed it sense this is pj's.

Fold the fabric in half, and put the bra pattern piece on the fold.   Measure the length going down the fold and mark.   Then measure the width (remember its 1/4 what you want it to end up), across the bottom.     Last draw a line from the "armpit seam" down to the hem.   This will be an "A" shaped line and will be wider than the bottom of the bra pattern piece.

Cut it out.

For the back, use your front that is cut out as a pattern piece - line up the armpit seam and cut the skirt portion, then put the back pattern piece on and cut that out.   This way the skirt bit will match front and back.

Cut the bra part out as instructed in the pattern, if you want to include it.

Now follow the pattern!   Its the same as making the "tank with built in bra" option, with the exception of the side seams being longer.

Ta-dah!   An easy and comfy nightdress, ready for bed!

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Whales in San Francisco

We visited San Francisco again for a couple days this July.   This time we went whale watching!   Levi really enjoyed the boat ride (which was rough, luckily we don't get seasick), and we saw whales, dolphins, sea lions, sunfish, birds, sea otter and even a shark!  

Sea Lions



Sea Otter

Whales!   These were so hard to capture because they move fast, the boat was pretty far, and we were in rough seas.

My parents and Levi!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tank Top Testing - Finding Our Favorite Muscle Tank Pattern, a comparison of 15 patterns!


Levi asked me to make him some more tank tops, his favorite style of shirt for the summer.   I had a look and realized I had 18 different tank patterns!    Some of these are free ones, some are ones I've tested for various designers, none of them I actually bought.    In the past, I just chose one of my patterns without thinking too much about it, but I know some of Levi's tanks fit better than others, so I decided to find out which we like best.

I ended up sewing a total of 15 tank tops, and I even convinced Levi to pose for pictures for every single one of them.

I'm going to share a little about each pattern, some key measurements, and pictures of the front, armcye and back fit.   I'm putting these in order starting with Levi's least favorite and ending with his favorite.

AND if you stick it out to the end of the post, you will find a giveaway to win your very own tank top made from one of these patterns by The Little Sewing Shop.

First a quick comparison on a measurement chart, these are all size 6, or the equivalent Euro size.

Armcye depth - Pink Line
Shoulder width - Blue line
Chest width - red line
Length - Turquoise line

(All titles are clickable links!!!) 

15. Mini Sun by Aefflyns To Go
Size: 74-140 (about 12m-10yrs)
Price: FREE
Armcye/Neck: Bands-  Measure openings to determine length
Notes: This pattern is not in English but comes with great pictures and Google Translate does a good job as well.    Check out the other patterns on this blog too, there is a mom's version of this one too!

I had high hopes for this pattern because I liked that it is the only one with a more "racer back" style.  Unfortunately, it seemed to run pretty small despite remembering to add seam allowances (European patterns often don't include them).   I plan on trying this again in a bigger size because I like the look!

14.  On Your Mark by Kelly J Designs
Size: 12m-18yr
Price: $9
Armcye/Neck: Binding, with cutting chart
Notes: This has fun color blocking with pockets!   The On Your Mark pattern is not just a tank but also a short or long sleeve shirt too.   Layered printing on this one too which saves ink!

I was surprised that Levi ranked this one "low" on his list of favorites, because another pattern in the same bundle came in higher even though they have the same fit.

13.  Maui Muscle Tee by Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop
Size: 3months-12yrs
Price: $7.95
Armcye/Neck: Bands with pattern pieces
Notes:  Peek-A-Boo has very clear instructions, nice easy pattern to follow.

12. Blank Tank by Blank Slate Patterns 
Size: 18months- 8yrs
Price: $7.95
Armcye/Neck: This one is unique - neck and armcyes are folded under and topstiched
Notes: Slight flare to the shape, curved hem, and a pocket as well.   I used a fun meerkat embroidered design for the pocket.   Levi likes the deeper arm holes.   I like the details on this one and because it doesn't have bands its even faster and easier to sew than the other tanks.

11. The Tank by Fishsticks Designs
Size: 12m-5T  (I made a 5T on this one!)
Price: FREE
Armcye/Neck: Bands with measurement chart.  Has instructions for adding the armcye bands flat
Notes:  I found that the measurements given in the pattern are different than my finished tank - it is narrower and longer than the pattern says.   But a good basic tank, this was a favorite when Levi was smaller.

10.  5K T-shirt and Tank by Elliedactyl
Size: NB-12yrs
Price: $9, or FREE in the Facebook Group
Armcye/Neck: Bands, measurements on the pattern pieces
Notes: Lots of options - tank, short sleeve, long sleeve, color blocking.   Layered printing.

9. Ottobre Designs: Free tank top
Size: 80-122 (about 18m-6x)
Price: Free
Armcye/Neck: Binding, stitched on flat instead of in a circle
Notes:  I made this from an upcycled Tahoe shirt, its 'burnout" fabric.

8. Pickled Pepper Top by Pickle Toes Patterns
Size: 2-16yrs
Price: $8.95
Armcye/Neck: Bands, hood option too
Notes:  This one has a few options - hood or not, ruffle, band or hem at the bottom, and color blocking for the front and/or back shoulders and a kangaroo pocket.   Slim and regular fit options.

7. Justin & Justine’s Muscle Tank by Snuggle My Baby Patterns
Size: 2-16
Price: $8
Armcye/Neck: Bands, uses measurements
Notes: This is a good basic design, quick and easy to sew up.  Seems to run a bit short.

6. Go! by Kelly J Designs
Size: 12m- 18yrs
Price: $9 or $20 as part of the Race Day Collection 
Armcye/Neck:  Bands, instructions for sewing in the round and flat.
Notes:  Tank, short and long sleeve options (both with layered look options).   This one has a fun kangaroo pocket.

5. Mini-Muscles Tank by Stinkin’ Adorable LLC
Size: 12m-10yrs
Price: $3
Armcye/Neck: Bands, uses measurements
Notes: Has color blocking - stripes down the sides

4. Tyler Tank Top by Funktional Threads
Size: 12m-16
Price: $1
Armcye/Neck: Bands - cutting chart OR pattern pieces
Notes: Another good basic tank, this one is only $1!

3. Freebook Sommertop by Klimper Klein
Size: 56-158 (about NB-16yrs)
Price: Free
Armcye/Neck: Bands, you measure them yourself
Notes:   Good basic pattern, has an add-on option for the faux placket.   There are some other good free patterns on this site as well.   Its not in english, but google translate works well!

2. Matey Muscle Tank by Patterns for Pirates 
Size: 3m-14yrs
Price: $5
Notes:  Looser fit, basic style.  Matching mens tank 

1. Safari Tank by Pickle Toes Patterns
Size: 2-18
Price: $5
Armcye/Neck: Bands
Notes: This is the more basic version of the Pickled Pepper Tank, it has ruffle, hem, or band options.
This was Levi's favorite!!

All of the tanks together

In order from first place to last place
Row 1: Safari Tank, Matey Muscle Tank, Sommertop, Tyler Tank Top , Mini-Muscles Tank
Row 2: Go, Pickled Pepper Tank, Justin & Justine’s Muscle Tank, Ottobre, Elliedactyl 5K
Row 3: The Tank, Blank Tank, Maui Muscle Tee, On Your Mark, Mini Sun

Buy one here or Enter the giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pattern Review: Love Notions Tidal Tank and Top

I test a lot of sewing patterns, but the vast majority of the time they are clothes for Levi.   I rarely sew for myself, but lately I've had the opportunity to test a few women's patterns.    This is one that I really like and plan on making more of.  

Pattern Description: Love Notions:   Tidal Tank and Top 
Comes with 3 lengths (top, knee and maxi), short sleeves, sleeveless or tank.     I learned that "tank" and "sleeveless" mean different things, "tank" is the narrower straps, and "sleeveless" is fuller coverage straps.   Option of banded or bound neckline/arm holes. 
Pattern sizing: Comes in sizes XS-XXXL.   I made the size small.  There are also instructions for a full bust adjustment.  
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern when you were finished sewing? yes
Were the instructions complete and easy to follow?  Yes, this is a super quick and easy pattern to sew up
Fabric used: Pattern is for knit fabrics, but woven fabric can be used for the middle panel (still need to try that!).   I used knit fabric I found at a thrift store for one, and Joann knit for another.  
Did you alter the pattern in any way?  I shortened the first one (purple) by about 2" at the "lengthen/shorten" line included on the pattern.    On the floral dress I chopped 3" off the bottom before hemming because I forgot to shorten sooner.   
Was there anything you disliked or would change?  Nope, it is great the way it is.   The pattern went through 6 different changes in the testing group to make sure it was perfect. 
Would you sew it again?  Yes, I have the top version printed and am going to try that next, my mom also wants me to make her one.  
Would you recommend it to others?  Yes
Do you consider the pattern beginner/intermediate/advanced?  Beginner with a knowledge of sewing knits, its a super fast and easy pattern for me, but the bands or binding might be tricky for someone new to knits. 
Shirts/dresses: Were the sleeves cut on the on the fold?   I haven't made sleeves, but they are different front and back.  
Does the pattern include layers for easy printing?  yes 
Seam allowance used in the pattern  3/8" 
Is the pattern cut or no cut pages?  No trim pages

Overall, this is a great pattern.  It is really really fast to make, and very comfortable to wear - no side seams!  

Pattern can be bought here

Friday, May 13, 2016

Viera Hospital Field Trip

Levi learned a lot on his field trip to Viera hospital today.   He was a bit apprehensive about going on this trip (worried about seeing blood!), but quickly realized that they weren't going to show him anything gross.    We had just a tiny group of 5 kids on this trip, but they split us into groups anyway.  

First, we looked at Radiology.   A teddy bear demonstrated how one gets an X-ray, and the kids even got to see what an X-ray of a bear looks like (he has some metal bits inside that showed up on the film).  


Checking out how the machine works...

They got to see real X-rays of people too, and were able to identify all of the "body parts" shown.  

After that, we saw the CT machine, and the bear demonstrated once more.

Next, they went to the ED, and looked at all of the equipment.   They were given hospital gowns to try on, tested the moving bed, the call buttons, and even the lights!   They also got their blood pressure and heart rate checked.  

There was a game of "who can put on the doctor gear the fastest"

Smurf hands!  

Lastly was the highlight of the experience, meeting the hospital's service dog Paco.   He comforts patients, but also has lots of training - he can pick things up off the floor, open doors and even get a bottle of water out of the refrigerator.

This is his "baseball card"

His handler "released" him so the kids could pet Paco.

And even check his heart beat along with some belly rubs!

The kids went home with a whole bunch of loot as well - a goodie bag, their doctor gear, a coloring book about nursing and even a pedometer!    It was a great experience and hopefully made the hospital seem a little less scary.    The staff was wonderful with the kids and complimented how smart homeschoolers were.    Thanks Viera Hospital!