you might remember that i didn’t quite get the kids’ christmas gifts done in time. these coats were to be theirs on the 25th, but would have been lost in the excitement of so many bright and shiny new things. in our continued efforts to strive for simplicity in our lives, just like their parents, each child would receive precisely one gift that required thought and care. the materials, a little more expensive and tailored not just to bodies but also to personalities. it was precisely one year ago that i challenged myself to a year of handmade giving, and a challenge it was. but full of so many rewards, lessons, gratitude and fulfillment. i encourage you to consider a similar challenge, even if smaller scale, for 2013.
now, let’s talk construction! it has grown cold here in davis, and by cold i mean a high of 50, and yes, my hearty midwestern blood has been thinned to the viscosity of water, so that is COLD. for me. i wanted to make something that the kids could wear all the time (i.e., not a single outfit) and stay cozy on our walks. anyone who has even the vaguest interest in fabric has come across echino produced by kokka out of japan ( i would put a link there, but you’re best served with a google search since there is no single site). oh japan, how you slay me with your superior craftsmanship and quality, your rich color palates and one of a kind prints, your trendiness and classiness all wrapped into one.
normally, japanese imports are cost prohibitive for my novice sewing and fast-outgrowing-clothing toddlers. but, christmas seemed like a perfect occasion for me to indulge myself and my children. i normally like to dress them in pretty neutral garments. i think it’s cute to see kids in sophisticated attire, and save the big, bold prints for linings. but several months ago, i saw this on my friend venus’ blog, and i bookmarked the concept in my head.
the pattern is the trendy unisex peacoat from dmk easywear. as a novice sewer, i can confidently state this is an EASY pattern. it goes 12 months to 6 years, comes with detailed, diagrammed instructions, and consists of four pieces. that’s it! this was far easier than the baby in the hood jacket i made a few months ago, which was my first jacket and also very beginner friendly.
i shopped etsy for the best deal on the echino linen. my favorite prints (bean’s is savannah natural and reese’s is airplane in blue) were a season or two old, so i got it for a few dollars off the going price at a brick and mortar shop. the lining is all microfleece from joann’s that i got on sale for about $5/yard. nice! when the echino came in the mail, i washed each of them in their own load of laundry (i have never sorted laundry in my life, which has resulted in more than a few garment suicides), cut the seam allowances into the selvedges, and saved every tiniest scrap, so precious is this fabric. fortunately, i have quite a bit leftover after making the coats, which i’m reserving for an as yet undetermined special occasion.
i was nervous to use these two very different textiles together knowing nothing about lining jackets, but the fleece is pretty thin, so i went for it without making any adjustments. while i have no major disasters to report, i probably could have cut the fleece lining an entire size smaller for a smoother finish since it is so stretchy (though i tried to cut and sew it as gently as possible). there is a decent amount of bulk in narrower areas, like the sleeves. totally wearable, but makes for a tighter fit.
however, many fortuitous things came of this fabric combination. the fleece is sticky and thicker than jersey, so the sewing was no problem, especially with the sturdy linen stabilizing many of the seams. you would think that after all the quilt binding and cowl joining in december i’d be better at blind hems and slip stitches. i’m not. there is a small hand sewn seam to finish the jacket hem, and it’s the ONLY hem i’ve ever hand sewn that is truly invisible on the right side because the two fabrics were so thick and forgiving, it was easy to sneak a needle in and out between them. finished these babies off with my first buttonholes! that’s for sure one of those skills that seems intimidating, and then you just finally do it and wonder where exactly you got the notion that it would be in any way challenging.
and last but not least, the kids love them. LOVE them. parents of toddlers know that the creation of their garments is more for the creator than the wearer. often, they get rejected outright, and forget about any expression of gratitude. but these coats made me a momentary rock star (for the duration of their short attention span). both prints so capture their personalities. bean’s jacket is how i imagine the inside of her beautiful brain…brightly colored plants and flowers, mama and baby animals meandering about, whimsical and magical. she wouldn’t put it on before she examined each square inch, looking at all the surprises.
and reese, while he wears more bows and jewelry than his sister, is all boy when it comes to cars, trucks, trains and planes. when i gave it to him, he said, “jacket! like it! planes! wear it!” i’d call that success. note: aside from the actual garment, they style all their own photo shoots…
so, hello 2013! 2012 was a good year for this little blog, even though it was only around the last few months of it. i have a ton of knitting ideas rattling around in my brain to ring in the new year that i can’t wait to share. some unexpected developments (really, my surprisingly continued unemployment) have allowed me to probe new depths of creativity and i’m grateful for this space to share and explore it. for me, like many of you, it fills many voids of adult comforts like…deadlines, productivity, advancement, and when i write here i feel like somebody, anybody, is listening. it has allowed me to meet new people and make new friends, which i hope to continue, as stay at home motherhood can be awfully isolating. i just learned i’ve had readers as far as east as lithuania (!) and south as brazil (!). how cool! i relish that feeling of connectedness, and meeting people i’d never come across without this medium. so if you’re thinking about it, please do say hello, even if we’ve never met, even if we’ve met a thousand times. it really means a lot. happy new year!