My Son’s Jean Jacket and Tips for Working With Ottobre Patterns

Hello! I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season. Today I’d like to share something that I made for my rambunctious four year old. You might recall that I made a Hampton Jean Jacket (here) back in October. My son almost immediately requested one of his own asking for “shiny buttons” just like mine. The boy was in luck because I had just a little over a yard of  Cone Mills denim (purchased from Threadbare Fabrics) left over from my jacket. Since my sewing queue was a bit full of Halloween sewing at the time, I promised him  a custom jacket for Christmas. I was able to pull it off just in time as I hammered the jeans buttons in place on Christmas Eve.

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I attempted convincing my son  to select some unique details for his jacket, (a different color of topstitching thread, different embroidery on the back, etc.) but he insisted that it be exactly like mine. I’m soaking in all these moments when he still thinks my style is cool because I’m sure those feelings are somewhat fleeting.

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You may notice, however, that there are a few details that vary from my jacket. These are all small details such as the absence of welt pockets, the jacket front pockets being sewn to the outside instead of the inside, and bias tape on the inside of the collar. These are all differences between Alina’s  Hampton Jean Jacket pattern and the Ottobre pattern used for my son’s jacket.

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Coming across the Ottobre pattern for my son’s jacket involves a bit of serendipity. I had been searching for a children’s jean jacket pattern, but hadn’t quite settled on one when my friend Lisa asked if I would like to have some of her old Ottobre magazines. I said yes and she brought them to our Modern Quilt Guild meeting the next day. I started to flip through them when I saw the back cover for issue 1/2011. This was exactly the pattern for which I had been searching.

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Ottobre is a well-known name in the sewing community so you may have heard of them. Ottobre is a Finnish company specializing in children’s wear patterns. They produce 5 magazines a year containing children’s clothing patterns as well as a special Ottobre Woman issue. In 2017 they also added an Ottobre Family issue bringing their grand total of issues to 7 each year. You can order both subscriptions or individual issues, although I’m not sure how easy it is to come by the older issues. Each issue is jam-packed with fun and stylish patterns. The specific one I’ve used here contains 40 different patterns. As you may have guessed, the sheer volume of patterns included comes with a few drawbacks.

First, in order to fit all the patterns on just a few pieces of paper, they are printed overlapping and on both  sides of each paper (see first photo below). I managed to make tracing bit more manageable by grabbing a permanent marker and my trusty Pattern-Ease (more about that here). I used the permanent marker to outline the correct size pattern pieces (see second photo below). This made tracing a bit easier on my eyes.

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Second, you have to add your own 3/8″ or 1 cm seam allowances. This isn’t a difficult step, just takes a bit of time.

Third, the instructions can be a bit sparse as each pattern only gets half a page of instructions. This specific limitation might be the most intimidating of the three. My recommendation for this is to select a project with techniques you have previously used. In my specific case, this worked out well because I had already made a jean jacket and was familiar with the top stitching, and other details associated with one. I actually used Alina’s Hampton Jean Jacket sewalong to help me clarify and understand some of the Ottobre instructions.

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Overall, these drawbacks added a bit more time to the project, but none of them would keep me from using another Ottobre pattern. The interesting style lines and endless variations on children’s basics mean I will likely turn to them again and again. I also love the fact that Ottobre makes a decent amount of patterns for boys. I’m sometimes discouraged when it comes to sewing for my son because the indie pattern world is largely dominated by patterns for women and girls.

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I’ll leave you with few more notes about my construction process. Every bit of my leftover yard of denim was used to make this jacket. This resulted in a serious game of pattern tetris as I worked to fit each and every piece. Cost-wise this was a relatively inexpensive project (less than $10) as I only purchased buttons and topstitching thread.  I sized up a couple of sizes in the hopes that my son will be able to get lots of wear out of this jacket. Another concession I made was to use mock flat-fell seams in order to save a bit of seam ripping and time.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this jacket as a present for my boy.  I do however, plan to wait a year or two before making another jean jacket because two within few months was a lot of work. Thanks for reading! Did you gift any handmade items this year? What did you make for the holidays?

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Last Minute Gifts for the Seamstress, Sewist, or Sewing Enthusiast

Hello! Are you in the throes of holiday decorating, parties, and events like I am? I feel like the Christmas season snuck up on me this year and I was caught a bit off guard. I’m still gathering/sewing a few last minute gifts around here and thought you might be doing so as well. Does Santa, your mom, or your significant other help find items for your stocking or do you sometimes slip some of your own selections in there? However that stocking gets filled, here are a few of my last-minute favorites for inclusion. The best part about these suggestions? No last-minute sewing involved.

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Pattern Behavior (here): For the seamstress who also enjoys a good meme. Are you or is someone you know a millenial sewist? Have you ever wasted a bit (or too much) time browsing the internet for hilarious memes? No? Just me? If you or a seamstress you know has done this, this book might be for you. It’s not 100% sewing related as it’s photos of vintage sewing patterns with a little bit of social commentary added. I found it quite funny, but I also sometimes have text message conversations entirely using memes. The only caveat is that the book includes a small amount of profanity. Just thought I’d warn you in case that isn’t your cup of tea.

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Pattern-Ease: Anyone who sews clothing and traces a lot of patterns should have this stuff. I’ve been using Pattern-Ease for the last four years now and it’s been a total game changer. It is a non-woven tracing material made by Pellon. I’ll just share a few reasons my love for this stuff runs deep. First, It’s sold by the yard and 46″ wide which means I can fit almost any pattern piece into one section without having to join tissue or exam paper. Second, It’s made from polyester and is not easily ripped like tracing tissue. Third, and probably my favorite quality, liquid won’t destroy it. About a week ago, I absent-mindedly left a traced pattern piece out on the kitchen table. My son spilled milk on the table and it ran all over the piece. If I had used tissue paper, the piece would’ve been a goner. Thankfully, I simply picked up the piece of Pattern-Ease, very lightly rinsed off the milk, and hung it up to dry. Within about thirty minutes, the piece was dry and good as new.

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Cozy Socks: If you know me, you know that I am a serious lover of socks. They are practically my love language. The sewing community is sometimes a bit divided on their preference of sewing while barefoot, covered with socks, or even wearing shoes. I would say, however, that many seamstresses I know tend to sew at home while wearing socks. I love a good pair of socks for sewing because I sew most efficiently when I am comfortable, and my feet are literally always freezing. Really, socks are my default gift for everyone because they can be both practical and fun. Everyone needs socks and sometimes it’s fun to have a few quirky pairs for lounging/sewing at home.

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Mini Wonder Clips: If you’ve been around the sewing community for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of Wonder Clips. They’re a fantastic alternative to pins in many situations and I use them often in both quilting and apparel sewing. What I LOVE about the mini version is their size and weight. The regular size wonder clips are great for most applications, but I’ve found the mini ones to be extremely helpful when sewing with lightweight fabrics such as rayon, lawn, and voile. Another great use is when sewing with knits. They don’t leave holes and damage the fabric like pins can sometimes do to knits.

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Washi Tape: Many apparel sewers (sewists?) use a large number of PDF patterns which means lots of glue or tape. I love using washi tape to assemble patterns, because it is easily repositionable. I purchased this washi dispenser set at Target and then proceeded to buy every one my local Target had in stock for gifting to my sewing friends. Bonus: it’s cute and I’m easily lured into using cute things.

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Flatter: This is a fabric smoothing spray that I use regularly when pressing. It reduces static and leaves fabric smelling glorious. My favorite is the pineapple scent, but they have several other scents and even an unscented version. I love the way this stuff makes my sewing room smell like a tropical vacation.

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Sewing Treats: This one will need to be tailored for the specific recipient. I love these gummy peach penguins because they aren’t sticky and won’t easily melt, the fact that they’re made almost entirely of sugar doesn’t hurt either. Find out your recipient’s snack preferences and find something that can be easily eaten and won’t leave a residue on fabric.

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Named Clothing Gemma Dress

Today I’d like to introduce you to my Named Clothing Gemma Dress. My inner 90’s girl jumped for joy when stretch velvet started making a comeback a couple of years ago. I first fell in love with the sweatshirt version of the Gemma pattern, but have yet to find the perfect fabric combination for it. When my cousin got engaged earlier this year and announced that she’d be married in December, I knew this was the perfect excuse for making a new winter appropriate dress.

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I snagged this olive colored stretch velvet and the Gemma printed pattern from Stylemaker Fabrics during their Black Friday Sale. I ordered on Thursday and had the goods in my hands by the following Monday. Michelle currently has a great selection of stretch velvet available and I’m doing my best to convince myself that I don’t need it in every color of the rainbow.

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Styling this dress presented me with a bit of a conundrum.  You may have noticed that I always wear the same few pairs of shoes. Almost two years ago, I decided to purge and scale back my shoe wardrobe. I had nearly 30 pairs of shoes that were rarely worn or falling apart because they were poorly made. I love a good pair of shoes, but these were just feeling like a waste of my space and money. I made a list of shoes that were necessary in my wardrobe (snow boots, athletic shoes, a pair of dress shoes, etc.) Eventually I whittled my collection down to 8 pairs of shoes. This system has worked quite well for me over the last few years. It’s encouraged me to be more intentional about shoe purchases and creative with my styling. I’m not great at scaling back in many areas of my life, but this one has brought me a little peace of mind. Here’s my little soapbox of the day: You don’t have to Marie Kondo your entire life to feel peace of mind. Find one thing that you can live with less of  (decorations, shoes, pants, t-shirts, pens, etc.) and start there. Maybe you’ll be surprised with what you can live without, or maybe not. I’m really no expert here.

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Now that I’ve presented my little soapbox, let’s get back to my styling conundrum. After seriously considering purchasing a new pair of shoes, I decided to dress the outfit down a bit by wearing my Teva ankle boots. While not the prettiest option, they were certainly my most practical when presented with the thought of walking on ice and winter slush. In order to make it work, I decided on a slightly boho vibe. I selected a pair of simple dangle earrings, patterned tights, and decided on a crown braid for my hair styling. The thought of a crown braid presented me with another issue: I cannot braid to save my life. Enter Vienna: My kind and beautiful friend Vienna of The Late Sew offered to braid my hair and assist me in taking photos. Sewing friends are some of the freaking best, seriously.

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Overall I couldn’t be more pleased with this dress and can’t wait to invent a million occasions to which I can wear such a lovely thing. Who am I kidding? I totally wore this to the grocery store, cooked dinner, and while sewing last night. I might never take it off.

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As always, I’ll leave you with a little note on sizing: I sewed a 38 graded to a 40 at the hips. My only other modifications were adding 2 inches to the length and sewing the slit closed an extra 4 inches for a bit more coverage on the back.

Want to see another Named pattern sewn up? Check out my Ronja Dungarees here.

Need a some more Gemma Dress inspiration? Check out Sara’s gorgeous maternity version here.