The last Project Run & Play theme, “my signature style” was a tough one! I’m a visual person and I’m inspired by a lot of things. I’ve un-secreted my PR&P Pinterest board if you’re interested in the kid-styles that inspire me.
I’ve narrowed down what style means to me, in terms of general concepts:
- Fit. To get the perfect fit for your unique body, usually resulting in the most comfortable clothing, that also look the best. How awesome is it to fit something on my slim daughter with a long torso, or my solid little boy, with monkey-like arms?
- Balance. Not to be confused with being matchy-matchy. Busy prints with simple styles. Plain fabric with dynamic lines (pleats, draping, tailoring). A mix of textures, contrasting colours and layers–in moderation. Shape and fit of garments also balanced–slim jeans with loose shirt, that kind of thing. An Asian yin-yang influence, I guess?
- Connection. The personality of style. An emotional connection to a piece of clothing. A visual representation of the ideas, favourite colours, past experiences and future hopes that materialize in the form of clothing, as an expression of individuality.
I prefer concepts, rather than labels–that way you can wear anything and make it look good! Although, if I had to choose, I would define my style as: “casual/preppy/classic/with a dash of modern bohemian charm”. (The last one describes my love for Free People, Anthropologie and Lucky Brand clothing.)
However, there are general rules of thumb. One such rule is this: sweatpants kill any sense of style. I totally understand the comfort factor and ease of wear for going to the potty, but I think sweatpants are meant for the sole purpose of getting a sweat on. So I set out to make a pair of sweatpants that don’t look like sweatpants for (poor neglected) Boo. I’ll just call them nonsweatpants.
I drafted a pair of nonsweatpants by tracing a pair of Boo’s stylish Mexx nonsweatpants. I used bamboo fleece again. I love this stuff–it is so soft! I used matching bamboo ribbing on the waistband and leg cuffs.
After cutting the pattern pieces for my nonsweatpants, the fit was bordering on sausage casings, so I added an extra panel to the inside seam. I tapered the panel to keep it fitted through the legs and looser at the top. It acts like a gusset and it makes me feel like I happened upon a stroke of genius, from my initial mistake (note to self: don’t do math late at night). The joys of experimenting while sewing!
The nonsweatpants have 5 pockets, 4 with yellow piping and lined with yellow stretch French terry, which is a cotton/lycra blend knit fabric. The little pocket on the backside has some triple-stitching for added detail.
For Boo’s sweater, I used a cotton jersey knit that has a layer of sweater knit attached to it. It is pretty awesome stuff–it’s soft and looks like a sweater, without all of the effort. Both the sweater knit and charcoal bamboo fleece were purchased at Fabricana, last October.
I used the field trip raglan pattern by oliver+s and used my serger to sew most of it together. I bought the pattern after seeing a version here and learning that you can buy it individually as an instant digital download. I added contrasting yellow sleeve cuffs and a bottom hem.
I used off-white bamboo (leftover from Froo’s suit) to applique a family-favourite phrase, “oh brother” to the front. It is fused with Wonder Under and stitched using the blanket stitch on my machine. I used Sulky Tender Touch iron-on stabilizer on the inside, so the stitching wouldn’t be scratchy on Boo’s tummy. I got this idea from the store-bought jammies that Boo wears.
I added last-minute elbow patches to the sleeves. They were intended to be knee patches on Boo’s nonsweatpants, but there wasn’t enough space with the side pockets. They are backed with fusible fleece and triple-stitched on a diagonal grid for a pop of colour. The elbow patches were hand-stitched on.
For Froo, I wanted to make her a floral skirt that was unique, twirly and colourful. I ended up cutting 32 panels of fabric to create a pleated skirt with inverted box-pleats and a contrasting print hidden inside the pleat. The floral print is quilting cotton from the Bloomsbury collection, by Liberty of London, purchased at Spool of Thread. The contrast fabric is from Mod Box, by Juliana Horner, purchased at Jo-Ann.
I wanted to draw attention to the centre of the skirt by closing the middle pleat. I topstitched it down and added a column of cross-stitching to give the skirt extra love. Each pleat has 3 inches of top-stitching to secure it in place.
This past weekend, I took Froo to watch the movie “Frozen” and I was tickled to see the main character, Anna, wearing a green dress with a pleated skirt that had contrasting fabric hidden within the pleats! I loved that every movement caused the pleats to expand and contract, creating a dynamic visual experience.
Froo’s top started off as the Flashback Skinny Tee, modified to be a raglan tee using this tutorial. (Just a quick note: I made Froo’s sweater before I made Boo’s. Froo’s sleeves turned out pretty tight, but they still fit her well. Instead of fiddling with the pattern for Boo, I decided to purchase the oliver+s pattern, so I wouldn’t have to do all the guess work!) I widened and added length to the shirt by attaching a bottom cuff. Most of the seams were sewn using my serger.
There is a kangaroo pouch with floral lining and piping made from the contrast print of the skirt. The bias strips were centered on the dots. I would have used the piping from Boo’s nonsweatpants, but I had only purchased one package at Dressew, in Vancouver (I literally had one inch left!). I like the dotted piping so much better!
Here’s why this sweater makes me soooo happy–these zippers that were on clearance at Jo-Ann are the perfect way to create a unique neckline! The front of the “turtleneck” has gathered ruching and the sweater can be worn zipped, or unzipped on one side for an asymmetrical look.
Four pieces make up the look for “My Signature Style”. I think it has all of the components of fit, balance and connection. Lately, I’ve been completely drawn to this muted mustard yellow. I’ve always had an affection for grey, but the combination of the two is magic. I also love florals, but I hardly sew with them because I am incredibly picky about the exact type of florals: scale, colours, design, quality of printing and cotton–must be just right.
For our photo shoot, I took Froo & Boo to the beautiful mosaic mural that graces the front of the Bank of America, in downtown San Mateo. I made a couple of pompom hair ties for Froo. I love pompoms–they are so much fun and make me feel like I’m a half-way accomplished knitter. Hee hee.
I will end this post with another rule of thumb (this one is more sewing-related): when you find fabric that you feel a real connection to, buy lots. Like oodles. I don’t know what I was thinking, buying only 1 metre of the yellow cotton/lycra and liberty print (ok, this one was expensive). I guess I fear waste–that fabric will sit in bins, hoarded, unused, until it doesn’t connect with me anymore. But using fabric that I love becomes addictive and I often regret having so little. I am a creature of habit (you’ve seen how many times I’ve used the Flashback Skinny Tee!!!) and I know what I like. Buy it and use it. Says the girl who hardly ever buys fabric without a project in mind, simply because it’s pretty. Oh brother.