Monday, November 23, 2015

Ice Blue Fleece Bunting-Snowsuit

I have been doing rather a lot of self-less sewing. Although, as my husband points out, sewing for your kids is almost like sewing for yourself-- there is such a personal joy at seeing things you have made on these little people that you love so dearly. 

So, my latest sewing make is an ice-blue fleece bunting for Little Lion. I actually thought long and hard before embarking on this project... really, I would have been happy to find one pre-made! I've made one before, and I know how long it took me, and the result was only so-so. I really thought Lion would fit into his 0-3 month Patagonia bunting for another season-- I know that sounds crazy, but Lilly fit into hers for two years, Patagonia leaves lots of growing room. Alas, his legs are so long that I was feeling bad stuffing him into a fleece where his little feet were always straining at the ends.

We also have an 18 month Patagonia snowsuit, so I was using that in the meantime, but there are no attached booties. I tried all manner of socks and boots. Forget about socks, he just wiggles out of those. I bought a new pair of Robeez shoes, since those were the ones that worked for Little Bug, but even those were iffy on his feet. I made a pair of bungee corded booties (I have yet to blog them) after an innovative style that also worked for Little Bug, but again, they kept coming off his little feet. People would come after me in supermarkets or I'd be running back seeking the lost boot... it got tiresome. I suppose I could go for all out tights, but they would frustrate him as soon as he was inside and wanted to crawl (he likes to use his feet for extra purchase when crawling).

I trawled the local used kids clothes stores and the internet in search of a nice fleece bunting with attached footsies. I admit to being a bit picky about such stuff... I like quality fleece, I hate the cheap thin pill-y stuff. I love the Patagonia buntings, but I couldn't find one in his size that was new on sale, and the ebay ones in his size were either very pink, or had histories I deemed suspect.

Of course at this point, I'm thinking how hard can it really be to make one? Heh-heh. The Rainshed had some gorgeous ice-blue Malden Mills fleece on sale, and I ordered some... and then I was committed to the project!

I think I also had it in my mind to redeem myself from my last mostly failed attempt to make a baby bunting. That was a long time ago, before Little Bug was born, and I was new to sewing. I just made up a pattern based on a onesie and pictures of fleece buntings on the internet. It took me forever, and we're talking about back when I actually could sew uninterrupted for hours at a time! I was super proud of my handiwork, but I made one big mistake... the torso length was rather short, especially for a cloth-diaper baby. Little Bug wore it only once or twice when she was newborn before it no longer fit.

This time I had a couple of nice Patagonia bunting/like things to look at for examples, years more sewing experience, and an actual baby to try it on. I mostly used the 18-month snowsuit as a pattern, tracing carefully using pins to mark seams. Since I really need a 6-12 month size, I shortened the arms and legs by a couple of inches after I was done tracing the pattern.

The bunting came together relatively quickly, my biggest problem is that I have only tiny slots of time in which to sew. I really enjoyed the process... now that I have a better understanding of construction, it is pretty easy to figure out and rewarding when it all comes together.

To reduce bulk, I did fake flatlocking of the seams whenever possible. My machine doesn't have a lot of fancy stitches, but it worked fine to first sew the seam, then zig zag over the seam with the seam allowance open, then trim the remaining seam allowances. I used the widest zigzag my machine had with the stitches set fairly close.

To create the zipper guard, I used a single unhemmed piece of fleece, and used a piece of grosgrain ribbon (also from The Rainshed) directly under the zipper teeth. This is probably not really necessary, but it looks nice (and it is how it was done on the Patagonia bunting that Little Lion outgrew).

I used a bit of striped spandex for binding. I bought it from Peak Fabrics to make a top for myself, but it just matched so perfectly with the ice-blue fleece. I used it to bind the arms and legs, and also the top of the attached mittens on the sleeves and feet. I also put a bit around the seam where the hood attaches to the body, a detail borrowed from the Patagonia bunting and something I've seen on other RTW hoodies.

I incorporated the details that make the fit on the Patagonia bunting so nice.. the wide raglan sleeves that are so easy to sneak little baby arms into, the three-piece hood, and the generous gusseted crotch.

Oddly, neither of the Patagonia pieces that I have use a two-way separating zipper. The fleece has a rather complicated system that allow the piece to be zipped into a true bunting (like a little baby bag) but I didn't need all that. But it might be nice in some circumstances to be able to do a diaper change without totally undressing the baby, and the two-way zipper down one leg allows you to do this.

After trying the partially finished suit on Leo for a day, I decided the legs were too short, so I added two inches of length to the legs. This was after I had already installed the zipper, so I had to add an extension of the zipper guard to block drafts, and a piece of velcro to act as a closure.

It of course has built in mittens for the hands and the feet- these are really practical for keeping a baby cozy. These are super simple, just flaps of fleece on the back of the suit that you can flip over the hand and arm openings.

I added elastic in the hood, and just cinched it a bit on the sides, following the model of the Patagonia bunting.

Little Lion has been wearing it since before I finished it. I just feel good having something warm and cozy to put him in on chilly mornings!

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