January 28, 2014

No-School Sewing

Out of 23 potential weekdays for school in January, The Peanut has been, or will be, out of school for 10 days plus 2 two-hour delays, if not more (thanks, holidays & freeze days). How fitting that I had already chosen the After-School Pattern by Oliver + S to work on during this time. I shall forever remember it as the No-School Pattern.

There's a Hershey Kiss hidden in those pockets.

The Peanut's wardrobe has been in serious need of pants; dresses always call to me, but they're not what she wears daily. Inspired by some great creations in the Oliver + S Flickr Group, I ordered the After-School Pattern and set a goal to make at least two pair of pants before I made another dress or tunic. I love the details on these pants: the pockets, the elasticized waist (great for bathroom breaks), and especially the side panels. But I sewed these details subtly. Rather than use a contrast fabric or even contrast thread to call out the details, I let the design of the pants carry the interest. This way they are more versatile and don't demand matching tops.

I had purchased gold thread to top-stitch the denim pants into looking more jean-like. But, despite handling the fabric in the store, it wasn't until I was cutting it that I realized how very lightweight this denim is. Realizing the fabric would drape more like trouser-jeans than jean-jeans, I nixed the top stitching altogether. I used french-seams or bias-binding on every seam allowance because I want the items I sew to be as nice on the inside as out. But holy crow that adds a lot of bulk, doesn't it? I need a better solution (like a serger, maybe). And of course, I always add a blank knit tag made from scraps to the back of everythingthey help guide The Peanut (and Mr. Wren) to put her clothes on the right way.

Size 5 pants are a little large right now, luckily they still look good cuffed.

The matching top is especially darling thanks to what I'm calling It's Raining Cats & Dogs fabric. A friend sent me a fabulous bundle of vintage fabrics and this woven cotton was among them; sadly there's no info printed on the selvage. I have a small bit left that I'm sure will sneak it's way into a future project or two, just as it did in the pockets and bindings of these denim pants.

As with the pants, I took the time to french-seam and bias-bind the shirt as I went. I used buttons from my stash and I keep thinking I need to go back and re-attach them with an orange-y red thread instead of the navy. Yeah. That will never happen, I rarely go back.

Happily cuffs also work on the sleeves of a Size 5 top.

I've already got the second pair of pants on deck: After-School purple pants and a gray herringbone flannel top. I'm excited to do this pattern again, and to add ruffles to the pants' pockets and bright top stitching (or piping!) to the gray flannel.

The Peanut practicing giving good face; she takes her new-found role as fashion model seriously.

This month I learned that with a self-imposed deadline, I can eek out time to create, despite constant schedule changes canceling my built-in sewing time. Sewing while The Peanut is not in school is a lot like my own private episode of Project Runway: I'm trying to complete a project without the luxury of time while another person throws a temper tantrum right next to me. I may or may not sew shirt panels on inside-out while simultaneously attempting to wrangle Alphie the Robot to switch memory cards, but sewing can still happen. And then it can be seam-ripped to happen again! If only there was a memory card to make Alphie clean my house.


After-School Shirt + Pants by Oliver + S, Size 5


Joann Fabric Sew Classic Bottom-Weight 4oz Dark Wash Denim; and, as I said above, the cotton-print is vintage with no info on the selvage.


All the details and the finishingas I do on all Oliver + S patterns. Plus those Cats & Dogs! When I'm the purchaser I tend to veer away from kids' fabrics to avoid twee. I think a large part of what I love about this fabric is the bold, saturated colors.


When the directions say to mark the lining portion of the yoke, be sure the chalk doesn't rub off. Then, when you're distracted by a toy robot, you'll still sew the back panel on properly.

Edited to add

I’m linking this to Project Run & Play for Signature Style Week. Though this wasn’t sewn toward that challenge, I’m very proud of this outfit for many reasons; reasons that comprise my signature style:

It has clean lines and few embellishments. The design of the clothing pattern is the star. God is in the details; subtle but lovely details (found in Oliver + S always—someday I aspire to draft my own patterns with such exquisite details).

It is easy to wear for everyday life. It’s not special occasion, it’s not for one-time use.

It’s not twee. Even though the fabric rains cats & dogs, it has bold, saturated colors (including The Peanut’s beloved blue). If you remove the juvenile print, the outfit could work on a grown-up.

It’s feminine, but not girly. There’s not a ruffle, nor any pink, in sight. Perfect for The Peanut’s personality and you can tell because she lights up when she wears it. And that’s my ultimate goal.

This post has been featured here:

You should really see all that goes into each project!
From my model preferring to wear washi tape on her navel instead of the clothes I've sewn for her, to the ingenious way that I’ve re-purposed my favorite sewing tool, a chopstick, into a spool pin for double needle sewing on my machine. Daily updates on Instagram (and Flickr) of works-in-progress will give you that behind the scenes view you’re looking for, and sneak peeks of First Tuesday Tutorials, too.


  1. Nice work on those seams! And I love those after school pants too! I'm discovering a lot of lesser known O+S patterns that are great--I just sewed up the nature walk knit pants and love them. Best part: 2 pattern pieces!!!

    1. Thanks! The patterns with two pieces always feel like a bonus, don't they? I need a good knits pants pattern; it's on my list.

  2. I love that top but those pants are killing me....so cute!!!

    1. Thanks! Be sure to check back on Tuesday, I've made another pair; this time with a sportier look.