Pattern review: Striped Swallow “Canyon” Bib and Bloomers

Looking for a quick and easy sewing project?  Need a fast and simple baby gift? If you’re a mom to a baby these days, you’re surely aware of the “Boho Baby Bib” trend…and if you’re not, then a quick Google search will clue you in:

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Truthfully I don’t quite understand the  “fashion baby bibs”.  My baby is in college now, and back when she WAS a baby, bibs were purely functional: an absorbent top layer and a waterproof underlayer, meant for feeding and drooling, and absolutely positively machine-washable. Mostly they came in pastels with stuffed-animal prints, and they certainly did not need to coordinate with an outfit. Fast forward to the era of Trendy Tots and Instagram, and you’ll see the Boho Bib everywhere, made in tasteful neutrals to be worn as an accessory, often embellished with fringes and tassels. They retail for $20 to $30 each (!) I’ve done my due diligence, and was a bit confused:

  • washing instructions are often “spot clean only”….with a caveat that these are NOT for feeding times.  These are  “photo-prop” fashion statement pieces.  I just really think that baby clothes need to be washable.  Babies are messy!
  • since they tie at the neckline and are a choking hazard, a warning usually says to not leave child wearing bib unattended, and never let them sleep wearing the bib (although the same sellers often post photos of babies napping while wearing the bibs)

I’ve been toying with the idea of adding some Boho kids looks to my Etsy shop, but hesitated on the bibs because of the choking hazard (although using Velcro is a good solution here). Then  I saw the Striped Swallow  Canyon Bib and Bloomers design, where she had turned the Bobo-Bib style into a crop top.  Brilliant!  I was tempted to purchase the bundled Skye Trail Collection (2 romper patterns, plus a top/bloomer set) but I hesitated (due to experience with the Coachella shorts) and bought only the pattern for the Canyon Bib and Bloomers set. I will review the Bib and the Bloomers separately.


But first, some words of praise for Striped Swallow: these are beautiful patterns, and absolutely a pleasure to read:

  • Layout design of each page is balanced, colors are lovely, photos well edited
  • Printing instructions and taping directions are concise and clear
  • Size charts and cutting charts are easy to understand
  • Fonts are clean and readable
  • Pattern pages are identified and numbered
  • Sewing directions are professionally direct (“Sew 1/4” from the edge”…not “Now we will be stitching 1/4″ from our edge”)

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On to the pattern review…..

The Bib: by itself, this is worth the cost of the total pattern….especially if you plan on making gifts or selling bibs. Huge craft-fair potential!  Could you save money by buying Simplicity 8304 (at the 99-cent sales at JoAnns)? Not really because that is only in one size, and if you’re going to make a $30-value “fashion” bib, it should be sized:

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The bib sewing  instructions are straightforward and it’s a quick sew. I did decide to go up one size for using the bib as a top, just for a bit more coverage.


The Bloomers:  I did need to tweak this pattern a bit, due to a couple of drafting issues and a couple of grading problems:

Drafting:

  1. The side seam lengths don’t match. It’s a bit hard to tell at first, since both Front and Back pattern pieces face the same direction ( Center-back on the left, and Center-front on the left also).  I really prefer Front/Back patterns  to be drafted as they would be draped on a dressform: with side-seams touching.  If CB faces left, then  CF should face right, as in this Tadah pattern:

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It’s more difficult to “walk” the seams (to see if the measurements match up) when you have to use the front of one pattern piece, and the back of the other pattern piece. But I always walk patterns before cutting…and in this case they do match up on the outside edge:

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…but not at the stitching line:

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Since this problem continues throughout the size range, I slashed-and-spread the front piece by 1/4″ :

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2. Center-front top edge is not trued …I thought the vee-shape might be a design detail, but the instructions are for a standard elastic tunnel, which won’t work with a vee.  Easy fix : correct the center-front top edge (blue line) at a right-angle to the CF:

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Grading:

1. The crotch width is not graded. Baby-apparel crotch width should be wide enough to cover the diaper, and diapers get larger as baby grows:

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I re-graded the crotch width with measurements from a pattern I’ve already tested. The Newborn crotch size was fine; the 2T needed to be extended by 3/8″, on front and back:

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This means the leg openings need to be adjusted (as in photo above) using a French curve.


2. The grading is “jumpy”the size chart is rounded to the nearest half-inch (for customer ease in measuring their child) and the pattern-grade follows slavishly to those half-inches…with the result that some sizes grade only one-eighth inch (1/2″ divided by 4 for front/back/left/right), and others grade by 1/4″.

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In industry, this pattern would be graded consistently throughout the size range at a 1/4″ rule (since the AVERAGE hip size increase is 1″….divided by front/back/left/right = 1/4″).  So, I re-graded the bloomers (front and back) to a 1/4″ rule:

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With these tweaks done (side-seams matching,center-front trued, crotch graded,  hip-width re-graded to a 1/4″ rule), I’m ready to use the pattern:

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Since I always tweak patterns, I need to trace them:

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Then cut out fabric and I’m ready to go:

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The bloomer sewing instructions are simple and clear.  All that’s required are side-seams, waist elastic casing, leg casings made with bias-tape.  One step I changed was the crotch seam: the directions are for a French seam, which normally results in 4 layers of fabric….but since in this case the seam includes the fabric seam allowance that’s 8 layers, plus the seam-tape and  seam-tape-seam-allowance (now 16 layers) plus elastic front/back and folded under (now 20 layers)….and then the French-seam allowance gets pressed towards one side, that’s 25 layers of fabric/seam-tape/elastic:

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That can’t be comfortable rubbing against baby’s inner thigh. I prefer to finish the edges of the front and back with an overlock:

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Then straight-stitch the crotch closed, then fold back each seam allowance:IMG_0759

….and topstitch:

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Result: much flatter and more comfortable:

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The finished product could not be cuter!  I have a long ways to go before mastering the Boho look, but the Striped Swallow collection provides great inspiration.

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Thanks for reading…let me know your favorite Boho-look patterns!

Best, Janet

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