Sunday, 21 August 2016

Birthday Gifts: Of Pokemon and Poo

There's been quite a few birthday parties recently for the kids to attend. While some necessitated a costume (oh those sequins), others just inspired me to sew/make something 'cause I really like the birthday kid.

First up, was P's best buddy who is also a Pokemon fan...

I set the kids to the task of finding out which was his favourite Pokemon. It was Luxray, which of course meant nothing to me, but since P has an encyclopedia of Pokemon characters we were set.

The image in the book was a bit too small so we scanned it and enlarged it before reprinting it to trace and cut a freezer paper stencil.

Again, I've used the freezer paper stencil to provide the blocks of colour and the overall shape, then added the black line detail by hand once the base colours were dry. I really enjoy painting these!

The T-shirt is, of course, the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan T-shirt.  I guessed at a smaller size than P's current one and used the pattern I had traced from P's Yoda T-shirt which was around this time last year.

It was happily received and put straight on... At which point I realised P was wearing his Pokemon T-shirt too and we needed a photo of the two of them!

The birthday party we attended today was for a little girl who's just a bit younger than A. We only see her occasionally as they live half in Australia and half in Europe. I wasn't sure what she was "into" re a birthday gift, and so asked her mum.

The reply was "$2 shop stuff, hand me downs, handmade stuff, poos and farts"

Ok, I can work with that... Farts first:

The kids had convinced me to let them keep all those little bits of snipped blue sequins, and shhh, don't tell, but that's them suspended in paraffin oil pretending to be bottled mermaid farts!

A handsewn poo seemed like a fun challenge too. The fabric stash buckets (which, by a happy scatalogical coincidence are the old nappy soaking buckets!) yielded a variety of brown fabrics and we had a family vote on which would make the best pet poo.

Working with the fabric scrap I cut two 3" wide strips and joined them to make a strip about 70cm long. This poo was cut on the bias as that was the only way I could get sufficient length. I've since cut and sewn another which was on the straightgrain. I'll leave it to another sewing blogger who cares more than I to write the dissertation on bias vs straightgrain poo sewing. :)

Anyway, it's just a case of sewing a long, tube that tapers at the closed end, turning it, stuffing it, then rolling and handstitching it to achieve the perfect plop.

This pet poo is really quite endearing. When P saw it the morning after I'd sewn it he looked rapt. He picked it up, petted it then gave it a little kiss. :) Of course he then realised he'd kissed a poo and laughed his head off.

From the birthday girls response I think it's going to get plenty more cuddles and kisses in its new home!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

KCW: Mermaids on roller skates!

Ah, Kid's Clothes Week. Sometimes I go nuts, sometimes I barely do anything, but I can never resist dedicating some time in that week to sewing for the kids. Actually that's most weeks really, but this week I feel a little bit less alone in my obsession!

I had only one thing I needed to make this week and it was a costume/dress/outfit for A to wear to a Mermaid/Under The Sea themed birthday party. She's there now, swimming and swanning around with her mer-gal-pals so, let's check out how completely carried away I got...

I was out at Eliza fabrics in Sunshine looking for something else entirely when I spied this electric (or ocean?) blue sequined fabric. At $15/m I figured a 1m cut could make something and wouldn't be too expensive a failure. I'd never sewn with sequins before and I tried a little dig for advice (or even good humoured conversation) from the attendant at Eliza fabrics but got nothing - I might make it my mission to crack a smile from that lady.

The choice of pattern, however was easy: The Roller Skate Dress by Oliver + S
It elected itself by virtue of only being two pattern pieces, being a super quick sew (yeah, more on that) and having a lining to keep it from being a scratchy, nasty mess.

The mer-girl was dead keen on an off the shoulder, one sleeved design (oh I have created a monster) but since this fabric had no stretch I had to talk her out of that. We compromised instead by making the skirt asymmetrical and kind of reminiscent of a fish tail or perhaps dolphin shape.

The dress is a straight size 6 with about two inches added to one side and about 8 inches on the other side. That meant tracing the pattern onto the back of the sequin fabric (standard kids chalk works really well for that) and cutting it single layer. As I cut, using the good scissors mind you, it became obvious that sequin sewing is a whole new world of complicated.

So, what was going to be a 2 hour sew turned into a whole week of evenings spent snipping sequins out of the seam allowances and I suspect I will be vacuumming up bits of blue sequins for many months to come.

I was correct in one thing. Once you've prepped your pattern pieces, the Roller Skate dress really is a lovely, quick sew.

But then the elastic casing, which should take moments to stitch had to be stitched by hand from the lining side. Each stitch picking up just the net backing of the sequins to create the channel for the elastic but not interfere with the lay of the sequins. Between that and hemming the outer skirt it was another long evening....

To "mermaid" things up a bit more I decided she needed a seashell headpiece. I went to Feeling Inspired for some shells and a headband. He didn't have any shells but suggested this silver mermaid, which he then bent to shape to fit the headband and cut the hanging loop of her tail fin. Then he went and got some little sea stars to finish the look. I sauntered off to find some other things for myself and in the end I was charged only for the bits I chose. The headband, mermaid and box of stars were free! I can see star embellishments going on everything as there's plenty of them!

The headband was black, but I had a bit of the lining fabric left so covered it and glued the fabric in place. Not a neat as it could have been but I was way past any more handstitching at this point.

After all that extra effort I'm glad it doesn't look too costume-y as should she happen to get an invitation to a disco or evening gala, she's got the frock!

Hopefully it's held up to the rigors of a kids birthday party and won't come home in tatters.

It's already been tested in action against a photobombing big brother!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dressmaker's Do: Koos Van Den Akker coat Vogue 1277

Some time ago I found myself in Spotlight, with no children, no time constraints and in the midst of a $5 Vogue pattern sale. (nice, huh)

A Koos Van Den Akker coat pattern made it's way into my shopping basket, and when The Dressmaker's Do was announced for a wintery June night I knew I had the perfect coat pattern to make. I had already spied the fabric I wanted at Tessuti back when I was looking for the right fabric for my frocktails dress.

This is possibly the thing that I've made to date that I invested the most amount of time and thought into. It was certainly the greatest investment of cash to date! So forgive me a long blog post...

Here's the pattern cover in all it's Koos kookiness

The pattern suggests no less than eight different fabrics and the pattern pieces are simply the weirdest shapes. Koos Van Den Akker described this as his "oil slicker" jacket and there's a great video here of him talking about designing it.

I knew I wanted my version to be a bit more "subdued" by virtue of being all in one fabric. Yet I still liked the idea of the grainline variation that would come from cutting all the separate pattern pieces.

First thing to do was make a muslin to check the fit (yep, it's oversized and so "fit" is hardly the word) and construction. I bought some cheap sweater knit and a chevron stripey knit and set about making a basic test run. I got the idea from JillyBeJoyful blog to make the lining as inner and outer to get a "quick" version of the coat and check for fit.

And I loved it! It's dramatic, it's wide and swingy, it has a crazy high "snow white" style collar yet the one part that needed to "fit" that is; across the shoulders, was perfect!

To make the trial run I traced off just the lining (called contrast 1 I think) and sleeve pattern pieces. This pattern has nine or ten (I forget now, but it was an insane number) sheets of pattern tissue. To make the lining body piece four pattern pieces are joined. I traced them onto the thin interfacing that I use for pattern tracing then sewed the pieces together with the sewing machine

With those two pattern pieces you could have a really quite quick and easy coat and I'm very tempted to make up another everyday version in this way.

Once I knew I was happy with the size I set to work tracing all the other pattern pieces and working out what the absolute minimum fabric requirement was if I was to make the entire outer coat from one fabric. I laid out all the pattern pieces on the floor and played pattern piece tetris for a good couple of hours. The final figure was 3.2m of a 145cm wide wool coating. The lining could be cut from only 1.5m if the fabric is wide enough (1.5m wide) to position the sleeves as above, otherwise it's closer to 2m

The fabric that I'd fallen in love with is an Italian metallic wool coating and it wasn't cheap. I purchased the 3.2m, but it wasn't in stock and so was posted to me a few days later. I never measured the final cut as it arrived, but after I'd cut my coat I had a bit over 40cm spare - a fancy coat for A perhaps? Did I mis-measure or was Tessuti generous with their cutting? I don't know but since it's $40 difference I'm hoping it was the latter!

Once I had the "good fabric", I thought I'd better work through the pockets and so I added them to my sweater fleece version.

The pockets are "patch pockets" in that they are added after the whole coat is constructed and then a very neat and moderately tricky welt is sewn. The pocket is formed on the inside and it has it's own, simpler opening, so the jacket is truly reversible.

I quilted the practice run jacket as I was worried that without the quilting the weight of the fabrics might cause them to sag and hang apart from each other. Big sweeping free motion quilting was kind of fun and with the walking foot the fabrics didn't get pushed around or shift.

When I was in Tessuti getting my fabrics I spotted the perfect metallic grey bias binding. Perfect that is except for the width. It was about 3/8 of an inch too wide. so I ironed flat, trimmed and then re-pressed about 10m of bias binding!

The coat panels are joined with wrong sides together, the seam allowances then trimmed and pressed flat, and then covered with bias binding. Such a beautiful finish which really isn't necessary since the jacket is lined and you'd never see the seam allowances anyway! That's my kind of sewing, technically demanding and excessively well finished!

The sleeve has a twisted, and slightly curved, seam which is sewn after the sleeve outer and lining have been quilted together.

Then the sleeve seam, and all the other construction seams are flat felled. Doing a curved, twisted flat felled seam down into a sleeve is not easy, but with plenty of pushing and poking and short bursts of stitching only about an inch or two long and I got there. 

And it's worth it. Flat felling all the seams leads to a beautiful, reversible coat!

The lining fabric that I chose is a basic cotton/synthetic knit with this nice faux quilted texture. It makes the jacket slightly more casual than it might otherwise have been, and by using a "grippy" knit rather than a slippery lining it's easier to keep the coat closed and on my shoulders

The combination of wool coating and knit lining makes it the warmest, snuggliest coat ever. Like wearing a giant, very fancy blanket!

On a windy day such as it was taking these photos, the jacket does tend to fly open, so I've been using a big kilt pin to keep it closed.

Or it can be worn with the collar turned down

When I'd chosen the fabrics for my trial run I didn't really have myself in mind. I was making one for my mum! Yep, she scored the casual version and I'm happy to say she loves it

And it seems that grandmothers and their granddaughters have at least one thing in common...

They love to twirl!

The pattern is rated "advanced", which of course I hadn't noticed until I was well and truly into it. It would be possible to make it "easy" by doing it as my trial run with one piece, and maybe even leaving off the pockets or making non welt patch pockets.

But, having said that, the Advanced tag might be a bit of an overstatement. If you can apply bias binding, flat fell a  seam and follow a welt pocket instruction (which I thought was very well explained) then you're cruising. Just try and pay someone else to trace all those pattern sheets for you!

Pattern: Vogue 1277
Fabric: Wool coating, knit lining and bias binding all from Tessuti
Size: 16
Alterations: none.
Notions: Thread. Lots of thread.
Again?: almost certainly. Maybe a solid wool outer with a solid contrast merino fleece lining...

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Dressmaker's Do : Anne Klein dress Vogue 1254

I have gone backwards and forwards on this dress, hence it's taken such a long time to get a blog post up.

Current feeling is a bit meh. Needs some fixing. But it was a rollercoaster of emotions that took me way up before delivering back to the dress loving equivalent of sea level. Meh.

Photographing it proved tricky, and I thank Fabric Tragic for her efforts, but forgot to tell her that if she just keeps her finger on the shutter then we might get some shots without my eyes shut or some weird expression It honestly takes 60 frames for one that I'd publish. Anyway, with that caveat in mind, here we go...

The pattern is this one: Vogue 1254 Anne Klein
I'm not sure how I first spotted it, but I'd been looking for a dress pattern for The Dressmaker's Do. It was a mid winter event and so I knew I wanted long sleeves, and since I'd already chosen my coat pattern, and it was going to be big, wide and swingy, I also wanted a narrow pencil skirt.

Of course, when you find the perfect pattern it's always one that is out of print. The cover picture just looked exactly what I wanted so I set about tracking one down...

Amazingly I found it on Ebay, quite cheap, available for sale and with local free postage. I also suspect that the Ebay seller was a clinical pathology lecturer from way back when I was at Uni. Weird, huh.

I did the right thing and made a muslin in calico first. I chose a size 16 grading out to 18 over my hips. The bodice was tight. Seriously toight! Also a bit too short, as when I squeezed into both the bodice and the skirt muslin, they didn't come close to joining. But it was looking promising. Emotional highpoint

I was not after a two piece bare midriff look, so I added 1.5" to the bodice length and 1/2 an inch to the top of the skirt.

I also thought I might like to be able to breathe, eat, drink and maybe move my arms. So I figured I needed to size up on the bodice.

To save cutting into my fabric and getting it wrong, I went ahead an made another calico muslin of the bodice, this time with the extra length and one size up. I thought it was good. But it hindsight it wasn't. Emotional midpoint, but needed  to get on with it, so didn't stop to dwell. Mistake.

Technically, it was a fantastic dress to sew. I love the origami style detail of the front, and after two muslins I was pretty comfortable with how it all came together. The back has an invisble zip and some nice darts with saddle stitching. Nailed that zipper first go. Emotional highpoint again

Point of note, to future me, or anyone else sewing this dress. The bodice darts don't move with changing sizes, yet the skirt darts do. That meant that if I'd sewn the skirt darts in the larger size they wouldn't have met with the bodice dart. I ignored the pattern and sewed my skirt darts in such a place that they'd line up with the bodice. Anything else would have irked me. Technical hitch noted and resolved. Feeling good...

Then came setting in the sleeves and hand sewing the upper collar. I did the sleeves rather sloppily and while I used lots of gathering stitches and pins, I couldn't be arsed handsewing them in and so there are puckers. Bad me.

The upper collar I sewed about 4 times. Here was where I really wish I had a dress form, as the collar needs to curve over shoulders and then be stitched in place. Stitching it flat meant it kept puckering when worn. It's still not right, and I don't think my fabric was helping me much either.

What the fabric is is uncertain. I bought it at The Fabric Store well over a year ago. It has a diagonal thread warp that probably defines it as a twill. It's soft to touch almost like a wool, but has a black metallic sheen that almost certainly is due to some synthetic content. It drapes very nicely, but maybe this dress needed a stiffer fabric after all.

It's lined with a grey brown silk that I bought for $5/m at Rathdowne ages ago, so all fabrics were form the stash and only the zipper and pattern were purchased. Feeling OK for a "free" dress. I decided to line the sleeves and figured out a way to set in the sleeve, then set in the sleeve lining just on the seam allowance side of the sleeve stitching. Then turn the whole thing inside out through the cuffs before hemming them. Kapow sewing skills! Feeling great, (until I saw how badly my sleeves were set in).

Please excuse my chin for having temporarily left the photoshoot. - and apologies if your pet bullfrog is aroused by this photo :)
I wore the dress and it was OK. It wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, but then I don't have the figure of that chick on the pattern cover either, so perhaps my hopes were unrealistic. What would I change? Well I think I need to take the sleeves off, take in the bodice under the arms, or maybe centre back (the back view is really rugby player baggy), then fiddle with the collar and either go sleeveless or get the sleeves in better, or flatter.

Also the skirt is not as pencil-ly as I'd hoped. It's got a deep kick pleat at the back (a lined kick pleat was a new challenge that got happily ticked off) so i could definitely taper the bottom to give it more of the wiggle skirt shape of the pattern envelope

I had a go at getting the pattern cover lady's smoulder, but kept giggling. It was also just as I was about to depart for the evening's event and all I could see in the photo was the wonky collar, dodgy sleeve and drag lines. Oh well.

Back soon with the coat which was much more to my style of sewing: technically tricky but not at all fitted!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Long Sleeved Ts Part IV: Collared Van Ikke Tee

When I was wondering what to put on the front of the t-shirt that eventually gained an embroidered butterfly, I remembered some gorgeous Van Ikke transfers that the lovely Nicole (Five and Counting) had sent me. In my memory the background was lilac, but it wasn't...

It was exactly the shade of blue that I had for some sleeves and t-shirt back. A lighter shade of blue for the front and I was sorted for a fourth long sleeved tee. Or so I thought.

With only these two fabrics I wondered if the t-shirt might look a bit un-girly for my daughter's approval (she's a tough critic) and so I thought to add some shoulder ruffles (like these) in a tan fabric that matches the edging colour of the Van Ikke transfer perfectly.

That was my plan, but then I got carried away and sewed (with the overlocker) one sleeve in and forgot the ruffle. Plan B? I wondered if I could make a faux peter pan collar...

Worked kinda well, really.

I traced the neckline of both the front and back t-shirt pieces onto some baking paper. Then drew a line about 1/4" from that which would be my neckband seam allowance. From that reference line I freehand drew the collar shape, then added another 1cm seam allowance around the outside.

I cut two back collar pieces on the fold, and four front collar pieces. Stitched the front and back collars together at the shoulder seams, then stitched the whole thing around the outside. Clipped the corners and turned and pressed the collar.

It's not easy to sew and turn smooth peter pan collar curves in cotton lycra, but it will do. It's a t-shirt after all.

I basted the collar to the neckline with a zig zag stitch, then attached the neckband as usual with the overlocker. The big question at this point was whether it would possibly lay flat. I'm happy to say that, with a good steam-y ironing the seam allowances have turned under and the collar is laying down nicely. If it misbehaves after a wash then I could just tack the under collar to the t-shirt front on each side.

The pattern is the same Oliver + S School Bus that I'd used for the red skivvy. Size 5 width, size 6 length plus 1" extra sleeve length beyond that.

This t-shirt used up some last bits, and in a way I'm glad I didn't have enough of any one fabric, as the colour blocking by necessity look really appeals to me!

I still have an absurd amount of printed knit fabrics, but the stash of solid cotton lycra knits has certainly been eaten into with these Ts.

And thanks to Nicole I have another one of these Van Ikke transfers. After receiving a bag of outgrown clothes and mother-in-law-made knitwear she posted me this deer stamp and a little red robin stamp. I think P might want the red robin for himself. The transfers are beautiful (follow that link above if you dare!), come with good (multilingual) instructions and are of such high quality compared to what you can do at home with transfer paper.

So there's my favourite of the long sleeved T's. I think Peter Pan t-shirt collars might be a "thing" for me now. It's really kind of cute.
Thanks again Nicole! xx

Friday, 22 July 2016

Long Sleeved T's Part III: The Butterfly Effect

Nothing to do with the beating of wings and creation of tsunamis around the world. The real "butterfly effect " is as simple as this: Put a butterfly on it and your five year old girl will love it!

This long sleeved T came about after the cutting mishap with my Bambiblauw kitten sweater. I'd accidentally cut the back panel without the extra seam allowances required for the button overlap. Thankfully there had been just enough leftover to re-cut the back panel and make that sweater up as it was meant to be.

And that left me with one t-shirt back panel. A little scoop out of the neckline and it was "magically transformed" into a t-shirt front panel, then a hunt through the fabric stash for something to provide the rest of the t-shirt yielded the very last bits of cream merino fleece (previously used here and here)

The Japanese sweater pattern has a band added to the bottom, and since this was the last bit of the Bambiblauw fabric I didn't have that luxury. I toyed with using another fabric but then decided it wouldn't be too short, and a lower hem at the back might compensate (weird logic when it's belly coverage you're after, but hey, I make this stuff up as I go along)

I had exactly enough of the cream merino so long as I did use the pattern's sleeve cuffs to get sufficient length. Instead of the japanese pattern's button up neck I just used some lilac ribbing for a neckband.

She was so excited that I'd plaited her hair that i got a lot of rear view photos :)
Then, quite uncharacteristically, I decided it "needed more". On a cold winter's night, with the Tour de France on TV, handstitching takes on a whole new appeal for me, so along came the butterfly:

I didn't have any pale purple embroidery thread, so I used a strand of pink and a strand of light blue together. I forget what the stitches are called, but whenever I want to do embroidery type stitching I pull this book off the shelf to remind myself what I'm doing. In the back of the book are some templates for various flowers, animals, etc. I traced the butterfly onto baking paper using a fabric pencil, put it face down on the fabric and rubbed hard to transfer the pencil markings to the t-shirt.

There was meant to be a whole lot more detail in the wings, but after I started doing one wing it all looked too much to me and I unpicked it and left it simple.

The "butterfly effect" worked a treat. She loves it and has declared this one her favourite of the long sleeved Ts. It's almost mine too, but my favourite is the last one that's yet to come...

Pattern: Modified pattern "r" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki
Fabric: Bambiblauw panel remnant from Maaidesign. Merino fleece remnants from The Fabric Store
Size: 120cm