Saturday, 21 May 2016

Little Kunoichi stencilled tee

A friend of A had her birthday today. Last year she was the recipient of the Moon Bunnies skirt and headband, and so this year I thought it would be fun to make her something again.

This little friend happens to do Taekwondo and ages ago, when I bought Sanae Ishida's book Little Kunoichi; The Ninja Girl, I had bought an extra copy knowing that I'd save it for her birthday.

Around lunchtime I had the idea that we could stencil Little Kunoichi onto a t-shirt. The idea was given the thumbs up from A, and so we headed out to the fabric stash to find a suitable bit of fabric.

I had just the right blue/grey colour for the t-shirt and there was one long sleeved t-shirts worth of fabric left. A bit of purple lightweight jersey was perfect for some shoulder frills.

The beauty of freezer paper stencils is that once the image is traced and the stencil is cut, you can let the kids do most of the painting as it doesn't matter if you go "over the lines"

And yes, as far as I'm concerned a plastick-y princess costume makes a perfectly suitable art smock!

Once A had done the bulk of the solid colour work, I let the paint dry while we ate a late lunch, then I added the details over the top free hand.

Then, that evening I ironed the heck out of the paint to set it, and then sewed up the t-shirt after the kids had gone to bed. Voila, from an idea at lunchtime to a t-shirt just before midnight - with all the necessary play, housework and meal time breaks fitted in too.

The pattern is the Oliver + S School Bus Tee, size 5 width with size 6 length (it's what I had already traced that seemed about right).

I added the shoulder frills by cutting a rectangle of fabric, folding it in half and then sewing gathering stitches along the raw edge. The gathering stitches curved towards the folded edge at each end. The ruffle was gathered, basted to the sleeve with a zig zag stitch and then the sleeves attached.

It was A's idea to add Kunoichi's pet ninja rabbit and I'm so glad she suggested it. How cute is that bunny?!

The kids have decided that no gift is complete without a Schleich animal from the local toy store, so a little dappled pony was added to the pile and the gift was complete.

I hope she likes it!

P's birthday is coming up soon and I seem to have created a mini tradition of stencilling his favourite "thing of the moment" onto a t-shirt for his birthday. Stay tuned for a Pokemon t-shirt stencil, and this time I might take some more detailed pictures for stencilling tips. If you sew for kids and haven't tried a freezer paper stencil yet, then I hope I'll inspire you to give it a go!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

...and a Bambiblauw kitten pullover

Once I'd settled on using the Bambiblauw sweater panels from Maaidesign, it was easy to choose which one A would have - it had to be the kitten!

The temptation to try and cut a dress was strong, but she really does NOT need more dresses. She needed warm tops to wear with skirt or pants (please!) during the colder months ahead.

Again, I wanted to go with a tried and true pattern, so I chose pattern "r" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki. I've made the top once before, when it was the base for the insane Beaded PixCell Deer Project and the dress version (pattern "h") all the way back here.

A gloomier indoor photograph turned out to be the better exposure to show off the pale pink and fabulous yellow of the background fabric - and another label thanks to Maaike!

This time around I made the size 120cm (previous versions being 100cm and 90cm) and with no alterations the fit is perfect.

I was very careful to cut and preserve as much fabric as possible, which was much easier than with P's Snow Tiger. And I'm glad I did as I'd misread the confusing pattern layout and added the extra shoulder length to the left front rather than the left back pattern pieces.

I almost let it slide, but it would have meant the button placket would overlap forwards rather than to the back, and I knew it would bug me.  Luckily it was the front panel with the image that was longer than it should have been, and I was able to cut another back panel from what I had leftover.

Now I have a cute pink and yellow spotted t-shirt shaped remnant. I'll have to find a complementary sweater knit for the back and sleeves and make a hooded t-shirt or similar before she outgrows the size.

In a twist of good fortune, I had some buttons that were just the right size and colour. If I remember rightly, they came in a little package from the lovely Mel of Stuff I Make when she sent me an hand me down dress. Thank you!

I'm always delighted by my very basic, mechanical sewing machine's approach to buttonholes. Anytime, anywhere, any fabric she says. Admittedly, the ones that are this close to thick, folded edges take a bit more concentration and pushing of the fabric, but the result is still a very nice buttonhole exactly where you asked for it to be.

In extra happy news the sweater has been very warmly received and is bound to be in frequent rotation. I had some ideas about teaming it with beige, grey or light blue pants, any of which would have been great for the photoshoot, but no, hot pink ruffle skirt it was.

At least I have the power to crop pictures! :)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Snow Tiger on a Nature Walk....

After drooling over the Bambiblauw panel prints on the Maaidesign website I finally threw some in a shopping basket and hit the purchase button quickly before I could change my mind again.

After much deliberating I'd managed to narrow it down to one panel each and I went with the French Terry loopback knit, as both kids were actually in need of washable pullover jumpers. Buying for a purpose which can't be fulfilled by the fabric stash is OK (right?!), especially when the fabric is just fantastic and unlike anything you own already.

For P, I was tossing up between the Snow Tiger and the Fox but eventually settled on the tiger, which he has since declared is his favourite animal and the subject of his current "inquiry" at school. Nice one mum!

The fabric is a lightweight loopback terry. It's as soft as can be and feels like it should be made into baby clothes. It comes as a set size panel with a selvedge on all sides and the image at centre bottom. The absolute challenge in dealing with these panels is in choosing a pattern and designing a garment in order to utilise the image to its best potential. I'll confess my extreme cutting nerdiness and say that this puzzle was a big drawcard for me!

The fabric arrived one morning very promptly after I'd ordered it, and a perfect warm, windy day that coincided with a rostered day off, meant it was washed and dried by lunchtime. And then I thought, and thought and thought about how to use it...

I'd have loved to make a hooded pullover such as the Rowan Tee, then considered using the Greenstyle Shawl collar pullover pattern that I have. But it became clear that if the panel was to be used for the whole front there would never be enough for either the back or sleeves, let alone a hood.

I was also aware that these panels aren't cheap and I didn't want to try a new pattern on an expensive piece of fabric, so you know what I did of course: Oliver + S

The pattern is the Nature Walk Pullover. I haven't made the top in almost 4 years, although I've used the pants part of the pattern many times over, and for many purposes (school shorts, swimmers, disco pants, elephant costume, Evel Knievel jumpsuit...). The more I thought about it, the more perfect the pattern seemed. There's a pocket, which is a must for this kid, but it's behind the front panel which meant my tiger wasn't going to be stitched on or covered up. Most importantly it's designed for colour blocking, which is what you have to do when you don't have much fabric!

I drafted off the size 7 with size 8 hem and lower sleeve length then puzzled and puzzled to get it all on the panel. The bottom section of the pullover is double layered both front and back. This provides the pocket at the front, but at the back is technically optional and could be left off.

But P is a kid who seems to really feel the cold. The terry knit is relatively thin and as a single layer is more like a thick long sleeved tee than a jumper. So I was going to make that double layer work somehow....

The inner back panel was made by using the small side sections that were left after cutting the lower front panel centered on the tiger. They were joined with the narrowest of seam and just made the width. You can see the selvedge of the fabric was all that was left for the seam allowances:

In my excitement of washing new fabric I hadn't paid much attention to how I pegged the fabric on the line and my panel was a bit skewed and warped. That only complicated the cutting puzzle further! I ironed it and smoothed it flat as best I could and thought I had it all correct. But, when I came to basting the two front panels together at the side seam it was clear that one side of the inner panel was half an inch shorter than the other.

The lower hem would normally fold up and meet the inner panel, overlapping by a half inch or so. The shortness on one side left an opening or "hole" in the pocket so I used a tiny remnant scrap to patch it.

Just on a whim I'd cut the sleeves with an extra inch of length at the hem and I'm glad I did!
I didn't want to lose any of my tiger by doing a double fold hem as per the pattern, so I cut a 1.5" strip of fabric, finished one edge with the overlocker then stitched it to the hemline right on the selvedge edge, making a hem facing finish.
So, effectively, I've added 1 inch to the total body length as well.

He kinda likes the kangaroo style front pocket!

The grey sweater knit is quite thick and matches the doubled terry panel thickness perfectly. It was a leftover form my nephew's knight hoodie and was just the right amount for the upper body and sleeve panels.

The final leftover scraps from the Bambiblauw panel, when arranged flat, only covered about two thirds of an A4 page. Like I said, you've got to love a cutting puzzle - or have really small kids!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Choose your own synthetic character fleece adventure

Both kids were very much in need of new dressing gowns and slippers, and if there's one kind of fabric where I just genuinely do not give a shit, it's synthetic fleece.

Until there is a Nani Iro equivalent in polar fleece then it may as well be licensed characters as far as I'm concerned. So of course, that's what they chose.

The pain of purchasing such dreadful fabrics was lessened somewhat by Spotlight having a sale on "licensed character fleece" and then completely removed by how much the kids really love this kind of thing.

The dressing gowns are made using Kwik Sew 2654 which I'd made previously and hated making. The result was fine although it seems to be one of the very few things I've made and never photographed.

I suspect it was in my very first days of sewing knits and I definitely didn't own an overlocker. I figured maybe it wasn't the pattern, it was me, and I should give it another chance.

Since I already had the size XS (4/5) drafted I just added length to the sleeves and hem to make A's version. probably about 1.5"on the sleeve and 2" on the hem length if I remember rightly.

This Disney princess fleece is disappointingly thin but she was sold on it. The proper weight, contrasting fleece on the shawl collar adds a bit of warmth at least.

P's Marvel comic version is the straight size 7/8 and fits fine. The great thing is that as they grow, you just unfold the cuffs and keep using it. Once the length gets to Hefner style hip height, it's time for a new one. Easy.

I had planned to use the sewing machine just for the facing steps and do everything else on the overlocker, but the fleece shifted in such a way that the overlocked seams were likely to miss the bottom layer. I ended up basting on the sewing machine then overlocking every seam.

It was no quicker or easier than my first version, but they do look nicer on the inside.

There was just enough leftovers to cut a pair of Happy Feet slippers each. Hers are Kids Medium and fit well, his are Kids Large and are a bit small. I'd traced around their feet on paper to get the sizing and knew his would be close, but I guess the seam allowances took more out than I'd figured. So, really, still shy of 8 years old he has small adult slipper sized feet??!!

I redrafted the tops of the slippers slightly to be a bit higher at the back heel and to come further up the foot at the front. It reduced the opening size considerably and at least they don't fall off as readily as previous versions of this pattern.

Using tissue paper to stitch through I've added these mini soles of carpet underlay to the undersides. If you like your kids as sliding missiles you can skip this step (at your own peril).

I'm not going to kid you, sewing yucky fleece into boring garments like slippers and dressing gowns did drag on. But it was worth it in the end....

... and while I was faced with the task of stitching the icky fabric I hit the Maaidesign shop and bought some much nicer fabric!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Endless summer of swimwear

And here it is, my last swimwear blog post for this summer (yep, it's half way through Autumn already, I know).

When I first made the Ottobre Seamus trunks for P and they were too baggy, I put the pattern aside for a bit while I sewed A's swimmers. Then one morning he was riding to school in the Nature Walk shorts I'd made him 2 years ago. They're made of an athletic knit and are now kinda tight and resemble cycle shorts.

It occurred to me I had my perfect boy's swim trunks pattern right there in front of me all along.

And so, I'm over at Oliver + S showing how I've used their patterns to create beachwear. Until Liesl gives us the long wished for swimwear pattern this is as close to Oliver + S swimmers as I can get.

I decided to make the swim trunks a bit more interesting by splitting the pattern pieces to allow for some colour blocking and the faked flatlocked seams.

The rashie wasn't really necessary since he had a couple of shop bought ones that still fit, but the temptation to make something that matched was too strong. The little remnant of the orange lycra, which I'd already used a bit of here, was just wide enough for a sleeve of the Field Trip Raglan T

I toyed with the idea of inserting a short, exposed zip at the back neck, but decided it wasn't necessary so why bother. Instead I just added about 1/2" width to the neckband pattern piece to give it a slightly higher neckband and left it at that. With the neckband sewn on with the overlocker and then twin needle stitched down it has plenty of stretch to get over his head without needing a zipper.

The charcoal grey fabric is a mystery textile that was purchased out at Eliza fabrics. It's definitely synthetic, has four way stretch and one shinier side, so I'm calling it lycra, but who knows. It's thinner than the orange dancewear lycra/spandex that came from GJ's fabrics and I expect it will wear out first. But the way this kid grows I don't expect more than season from his swimwear anyway.

Both the shorts and the T-shirt are made two sizes down from where his measurements would put him. Of course I had to add some length to the t-shirt and considerable sleeve length. I think it may have been as much as 4 extra inches of sleeve length - the kid has long arms! The good thing about a raglan sleeve is that you can measure from collar to wrist and that's the sleeve length you need. Easy to get right.

He loved the beach and enjoyed riding his boogie board and catching waves.  It amazed me that even though this is probably the most well known and commercialised bit of coast the whole way around Australia, and even thought the high rise apartments come right down to the sand, the beach still felt almost empty. Not empty by Aus standards, but certainly empty compared to any well known beach in any other part of the world.

After we got back from the Gold Coast I realised it was A who needed a rashie as hers had been very faded, worn and saggy. Of course that meant she needed a pair of swim trunks to match it, so I set about "girlifying" the Nature Walk pants to suit her.

This is at a much less glamorous, colder and generally less photogenic bay beach in Melbourne and I hadn't expected the kids to go in, but once they see water there's no stopping them.

I made the neckband on her top a bit wider again, adding a full inch to the pattern. Thus the folded neckband is 1/2" wider than intended. It works for a rashie, but is right on the limit to my taste. I think it would be visually far too thick and chunky for a regular t-shirt.

Her shorts were drafted to have an extended side section which is then drawn up and ruched by virtue of a casing and drawstrings. The casing is done in much the same was as this skirt which I adapted and photographed for another Oliver + S tutorial here.

Making this set exactly used up the remnants of the floral lycra from The Fabric Store (used here) and another of the small remnants I'd picked up at GJ's.

These are now her favourite swimmers which is kinda funny since I simply cannot convince her to wear shorts or pants in any other situation.

I love the idea of the new Lisette B6358 one piece swimsuit for me, so next summer, that's on the cards. Meanwhile I want to track down some of this VITA swimsuit fabric - it's made of 100% recycled waste nylon. I love the idea of swimming at the beach wearing a swimsuit made of recycled fishing nets that had been cleaned up off another beach somewhere in the world. But that's a long way off, it's starting to get cold around these parts...

Monday, 18 April 2016

School swimmers - Jalie & Ottobre

I'm pretending Autumn isn't happening and continuing with sewing swimsuits for the kids. There'll be a couple more to show you after these and then I'm plunging straight into fleecy dressing gowns for winter warmth. No inter seasonal sewing here!

Before we went on our beach holiday, I tried out an Ottobre swimsuit for the boy. It was an oversized fail, but after we came home I rejigged it and now he's happy.

The pattern is the Seamus swim trunks from Ottobre 3-2009. By his measurements I traced off a size 140cm.

I'm used to Japanese sewing patterns where one needs to add seam allowances, but at least those patterns show a cutting layout where the seam allowances are suggested. This pattern had no such guidance. I'd forgotten to add the seam allowance ot my tracing which is what I normally do, but then added it as I cut the fabric. I gave myself 1cm for sewn seams and 3cm for the waist and hems.

He decided they were far too baggy for what he was used to. In truth they looked very like the image in the pattern magazine, so maybe I should have thought to size down from the very beginning.

This second pair were cut with the front inset and top part 1cm over the fabric fold line, removing 2cm width from the centre front. Then I just cut the rest without any seam allowances. There's a few seams there and my maths brain is failing me late at night, but I'd reckon I've reduced each leg circumference by about 6cm!

The kids are both doing their intensive school swimming programs at the moment, so I had a bit of fun making their swimmers in "school uniform" colours.

For A I used the other Jalie pattern that I have, Jalie 3134.

I love this swimsuit for it's sporty, I'm-on'the-swim-team look.

For both of the kids I added a little bit of colour by doing a faked flatlock seam finish. I've previously tinkered with my overlocker and created a proper lapped flatlock seam (tutorial here). But, I was worried that wouldn't be sturdy enough for swimmers.

Here, I've simply sewn the overlocked seam with wrong sides together, then stitched the overlocked seam allowance down using a twin needle. I matched the twin needle threads to the overlocker threads and even up close it looks passable. Doesn't mean I don't still want an industrial 7 thread flatlocker one day...

These are size I, same as the other Jalie swimmers I just made for her. Again, I could probably have added a little length to make them a perfect fit.

Similar to any racerback, sporty swimsuit, these take a bit more wriggling into than the other style with it's thinner shoulder straps. But once you're in, it's all held together really nicely. This is the suit I'd consider making for myself of the two. With enough power mesh underlining I figure it could work! :)

I didn't want my pale pink lining fabric to show in the exposed seam allowances, so I constructed the whole front first, then laid it flat on the lining fabric and cut the lining fabric out in one piece. For a kids swimsuit with no real built in curves that works fine.

I'm certainly finished with swimwear for this year, but did you see the new Lisette for Butterick patterns? Maybe next summer, hey.

Swimmers for me is one of the only items of clothing I've bought in the last two years. I'm enjoying following the thoughts of other makers on Instagram as part of Fashion Revolution. I'm happy my kids can answer "who made your clothes?". Now to start to think about who made my fabric.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Jalie 3350 - surf and poolside

We've just been away on a summer holiday and I made sure the kids had some new swimwear each before we went.

These floral swimmers had been a favourite of A's (so faded now they're unrecognisable) and so I thought I'd revisit the pattern one size up for this summer.

This is Jalie 3350 view B. I measured her and she appeared to be exactly the right measurements for size I, which is just one size up from last years swimmers.

This first green pair were made with a small remnant of lycra from GJ's discount fabrics. I think it was fished out of the remnant bin and cost maybe $2. And of that I've probably only used half of it! I lined the front with more of the pale skintone pink lycra I'd bought last year.

I made a neater job of the cross over bit this time, and even added a step to pull the lining through the front panels and stitch it to itself. That means there's no unfinished lining edge at the centre front. Much tidier. I'll have to take a few photos next time (next year!) to describe it properly.

A big part of the appeal of this pattern is that she can easily get them on and off herself. The intensive school swimming instruction starts next week and I'm afraid the Cosi pattern (also sewn last summer) with it's cross over straps was just too confusing.

I had decided to make both view B and View A and I was good and sewed this pair right to the end to try the fit before cutting the second pair. I do think they could do with a centimetre or two more torso length, but once I started looking at View A the pattern is more confusing and didn't lend itself to lengthening so easily. So I didn't bother and just made the same size over!

It turned out not to be quite as baffling as I'd thought it would be to add length, as that band is more of a flap. It lays over the uppermost part of the bottom section and adds nothing to the length of the swimsuit. The front could be easily lengthened. It's the back that would require a bit more thought.

I love the back of these swimmers!

I tried really hard to cut my fabric to align at least the colours, if not the chevrons. But the upper back sections, which I fastidiously lined up and cut were upside down! I may have missed a grainline marking when tracing the pattern, but the writing, which I always trace is upside down to the pattern piece. There, hopefully I'll remember that for next time.

The method for creating the straps is great. A strip of fabric is stitched onto the edge of some 1cm elastic, then wrapped around the elastic and topstitched down with a zig zag stitch. Then the excess fabric width is simply trimmed off close to the stitching on the underside. The straps are more stretchy, stable in width and have better recovery than if they were just made from a tube of lycra.

Last year I tried to make my swimmers look professional by using a double needle for all the elastic hems. However, I'd stitched close to the edge and the elastic tended to want to roll out. This time I just went with a nice wide zig zag and it behaves so much better and really doesn't look too amateurish at all. So while I chose to use an overlocker for the main seams, there's no reason why one couldn't make swimwear with a very basic sewing machine only.

The back fastening, as per the pattern, should have been a 2" hook which hooks to a loop sewn by folding one of the straps back on itself.

I couldn't find such a huge hook, but did find a two pack of these 1" clear plastic swimwear closures. It was a bit of a squeeze to get the straps happily through and stitched down, but it turned out to work really well in the end.

The chevron fabric is quite a large piece that I bought at Rathdowne fabrics and the orange another of the little scrap remnants from GJ's. It's really quite ridiculous how little fabric you need to make 5 year old girl swimsuits! I think I'll be sewing swimsuit chevrons for quite some years to come.

We had a fantastic holiday in the sun and the kids adored being on the beach. They were up at a crazily early hour each day and so it would feel like we'd been in the water for an eternity, yet my watch would only say half past nine in the morning! This little one is pretty brave when she wants to be and delighted in the big breaking waves. Flipper would take her out and hold her over his head while the wave broke over them. Sometimes they both got completely submerged but she didn't care a bit.

Of course in the Australian sun, you only get to show off your swimsuit for the sake of a blog photoshoot. The rest of the time it's hats and rashies on. So that's what I need to sew her next, a new rashie for riding the boogie board!