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

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Long Sleeved T's Part II : Pim & Pom

Shortly after P got his Pokemon t-shirt, I was thinking it was time A got a stencilled t-shirt of her own. She had been talking about which Pokemon character she wanted, when....

We went to see a film about the cutest pair of cartoon cats: Pim & Pom
The Adventures of Pim & Pom is a dutch cartoon drawn from stories dating back to the middle of last century (Wiki link in English: Pim & Pom) and the latest film; Pim & Pom's Great Adventure was being shown at ACMI

The cartoon has a really nice aesthetic with lovely colours, simple shapes and super cute animation. Add in some very catchy tunes and a ripping plot line and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  There was plenty of laughter and quite a few tears (that's my boy!) when Pim & Pom had a falling out and became temporarily estranged from each other.

I had to make a Pim & Pom t-shirt

I must have had the iron settings too low as the freezer paper didn't stick down as well as it usually does and my background shapes ended up a bit wonky. Again, I cut out all the bits, then replaced them all as I ironed the stencil onto the t-shirt.

Then I could remove one part, let A paint that colour before removing the next part and so on. If I were patient I would let the paint dry then replace the stencil but I tend to just let A paint most of the colour block then I do the bit close to the previous colour so they don't overlap.

The T-shirt fabrics were chosen purely by what was in the stash, of about the right amount and could be used up in one t-shirt. Then I tried to mix the pink paint as closely as possible to the sleeve colour and then tinted the blue and yellow paints 'til they seemed like complimentary colours to the pink - to my eye at least!

The T-shirt pattern is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee. My notes say size 5 with about 1 1/2" extra body length and 1 3/8" extra sleeve length. It's plenty roomy enough and long enough so hopefully it will be worn until it's faded!

Much less recognisable than a Pokemon character for the average under 10 year old, but I'm sure Dutch people in their 50's would say "Dat is veel koeler dan Pokemon"*

*bad, bad Google translate user, I know :)


Monday, 18 July 2016

Long sleeved T's and things outgrown: Part I

Combined with her habit of wearing her skirts pulled down low at the front, the fact that all of her long sleeved tops were getting too short meant that it was high time the girl got some new winter warm long sleeved T-shirts.

First up was the necessarily boring one which is school uniform plain red.

It's the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt with the neckband widened considerably to make it into a skivvy.

Of course I didn't make a note of widened by how much. I just held my fingers apart, guessed at the width I wanted, then doubled that and added a bit of seam allowance. That's how easy a skivvy is folks!

I used the tracing that I already had for size 5 with size 6 length, then added another arbitrary one inch to the sleeve length to account for my gorilla-esque offspring.

I'd thought that I had lots of plain red cotton lycra in the stash, and so was planning to make two or three of these and be done with it. But I didn't. There was enough for only one. But in searching I found so many other fabric combinations I caught cutting fever and planned another three long sleeved Ts.

We had a little drawer clean out and some too small tops have been bagged up and will be dropped off at the charity bin soon.

Sadly, another outfit is now a bit small for my littlest child, but I think I may have to keep it. Even if it makes no sense to the next generation of costume wearers. With a bit of pushing and shoving, A wriggled her hips into it for one last turn as the broken bone record holder that was Evel Knievel.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Talonflame Pokemon Tee

Distracted by Le Tour, I've been staying up late and handstitching while sitting on the couch. But with a rest stage last night I figured it was time to catch up on some blogging.

So here's P in his birthday t-shirt!

The image came via Deviant Art and an artist: Yonaka Pinku who seems to have a thing for drawing Pokemon.

I cut a freezer paper stencil of the main colour blocks then freehand painted the black lines for the detail.

The fabric stash yielded just the right combinations of red and grey fabrics and dark grey ribbing and then I mixed my paints to match the fabrics as closely as possible while remaining "true" to the Pokemon colours.

He absolutely loves this t-shirt and it's in heavy rotation being worn again the moment it's out of the wash and back in his drawer. Pretty pleased with it myself!

Pattern: Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee
Size: size 8 with body and sleeve length of the size 10
Fabrics: Stash knits and ribbing
Paint/Stencil: Reynold's Freezer Paper and Setacolour Opaque fabric paints.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Boy Sewing Week - Zonen09 Lars coat

Hi, it's Boy Sewing Week this week and by the magic of the internet I'm over in Canada talking about sewing coats for boys. Click the link below and go take a look!

 Boy Sewing Week

Julie of Our Chez Nous has lined up some great sponsors for Boy Sewing Week and there are fabric and pattern giveaways. Check it out now, enter the giveaways and then come back 'cause I've got a lot of photos and ramblings about my sewing experience to share...

As luck would have it, it was the boy kid who was next on the list for some sewing. He needs some long pants or jeans, he just got his new birthday t-shirt (which has been worn and washed so many times already I can't pin him down for a photoshoot in it!), but most of all he needed a winter coat.

For the last 4 winters he's been wearing a succession of Oliver + S School Days Coats (seen here).
I figured it was time for a new pattern, and I had this wool stashed away but wasn't sure there'd be enough there to make that pattern with its hood.

A coat pattern without a hood (yes mine has one, I'll explain soon) that I fell hard for is the Lars coat by Zonen09. Instant PDF purchase and print out and I was underway. Word is that Zonen09 may be producing their English translated patterns as paper versions too, which I would love as tracing all the pattern pieces for a jacket takes forever. Here's hoping they add the seam allowances too - what is it with wacky europeans leaving off seam allowances? :)

Anyway, this was a very easy pattern to print (no paper size issues) and assemble. The pattern is quite detailed and I did get out the red texta to highlight the pattern lines I needed to trace.

The pattern comes in two size ranges, both covering 2 years up to 9 years. There is a standard size and then a slim/small size - perfect for the taller, skinny kid.

I measured up P and found he was as tall as the size 134 (9yrs) but his chest, waist and hip measurements were all close to, or just under the size small128 (8yrs). I chose the slim128 and added 1 inch body length and 1 inch sleeve length. I got the body length right, but again I underestimated the length of monkey boy's arms, another inch would have been perfect.

 I 'm pretty happy to say that everything except the zipper and hood toggles came from my fabric stash! The wool melton had been hoarded away about two years ago, the lining fabric is some of the marvellous Maille Merveilleuse (free tautology for the bilingual readers!) from Mamzelle Fourmi that I'd bought a while ago (seen here, here and here). I had just enough navy brushed moleskin for the pocket and collar highlights and my ribbing stash volunteered up some perfect navy ribbing for the cuffs. Darn close to a free coat!

I was delighted that my pattern pieces all fit easily on the 1.5m cut of wool. So much so that I busily downlaoded the free hood pattern (Dutch only, but a hood is a hood, right?) and then cut that out too. Of course that's when I noticed I'd cut the front pattern pieces on the fold as if they were the back and only cut one back piece (that's the back side without the pocket?!). Quite what the fabric requirements would be if I'd got it right I don't know. But, I'm happy to say one can just cut a lengthened size 128, with additional hood, out of 1.5m wide wool accounting for various fuck ups along the way. Phew.

 If I hadn't made numerous other small muck ups, and been under a self imposed deadline to get the coat finished before the kids went out to the country (freeeezing cold) to stay with my folks, it would be have been a perfectly pleasurable sewing experience.

The pattern is great. It's a computer view only one, as the photos that illustrate the steps wouldn't print too well on grayscale, but it's well illustrated and explained. There are plenty of neat moments when leaving a little bit unsewn until the next step allows some magical turning and I had that nice experience of suspending all anticipation of how it might work and just doing as I was told. And it did work out.

At least until he went to put it on in the morning and we discovered I'd somehow rotated one of the sleeve linings a full 360degrees. There's no way his arm could push through that twisty lining vortex, even with an overtired mum urging him just to try harder! of course once I realised what I'd done I could see there was nothing for it but to seam rip the armhole of the lining and stitch as much as possible with the machine then finish with a slip stitch. Sorted.

Various other cock ups included me forgetting I'd cut the plackets the same length as the coat as I was unsure about the cutting lines - turns out they were the obviously shorter ones marked "cut here for placket". Although in my defense some of the pattern sheet markings were still in Dutch, but now I know what Knippen means!

And I was keen to use my snap press instead of velcro for the closure. Of course that means way more precision is required to line up the zipper and the snaps and thus a few more zipper inserts and rip outs and re-inserts than I'm used to ;). As it happens the snaps could be added AFTER the zipper is sewn. That would be awkward to do with velcro as per the pattern but not too hard with magnetic or set in snaps. I think that's the complete list of unpicking....

The other thing I had in my stash was 2m of navy piping which I'd bought recently from Maaidesign with no particular idea in mind as to how I'd use it. Turned out to be the exact length for the sleeve piping and the placket piping with only 2cm leftover!

This coat also got the "I'm good enough tot warrant a label" tick of approval, so in went one of the labels that have come with Maaidesign fabric purchases. Until I can work out how to reconcile a very long blog name and a very complex logo with a  quality label that's not enormous, I'll use whichever little tags look good and suit the garment. So thanks Maiike!

The hood instructions suggested that the hood be attached to the finished coat on the inside, by means of buttonholes in the hood and buttons sewn to the inner collar. I wanted my hood to look more like a duffel coat hood, and I knew it wouldn't get worn all that much so I chose to have it on the outside. The construction was the same, but I added snaps inside the hood before stitching it all closed and then marked and applied snaps to the outer collar before closing the jacket.

I hit up Jimmy's buttons for the elastic cord and toggles and he had the same coloured brassy eyelets, so I bought a few of his. I mentioned what beastly things they are to insert and he offered to do them then and there, but of course I hadn't thought to bring the hood with me. The man is a treasure and I must remember to take advantage of him more often!

After a few practice runs I think the four that I inserted aren't too bad, but the kid is under strict instructions not to play with them too much for fear they rip out. Repeat after me: this is a decorative feature only.

Oh, and the navy separating zipper of exactly the specified length with a nice brassy puller was also at Jimmy's. Treasure trove I tell you!

While the pattern tracing and cutting is time consuming, then actual sewing of a lined coat is really very rewarding and quite fun. There's no finishing of fabrics to worry about. The wool coating doesn't fray and is nice to sew and press. Just stitch, press and topstitch then repeat. I used a walking foot for nearly every seam, only changing to the regular presser foot in order to use a zipper foot attachment.

My final verdict?  I love the pattern but I wish I'd gone up a size, as while it fits ok now, it's slim and won't go beyond this winter. Guess that means I get to do it again next year! I might go up to the standard 132 and still add more sleeve length and then it will last a second winter no doubt.

And P's verdict?

He loves it too. That lining was bound to win him over, it's divine, squishy soft stuff. But the boy who likes to slouch around with his hands in his pocket is a little thrown by the one sided utility pocket. To which I say "ha! take that!"

Have you sewn anything for a boy this week? There's still a couple of days left in the week, and there's still time to enter the giveaways over at Our Chez Nous. I got a sneaky suspicion it might be a Zonen09 giveaway today!! Good luck!

Pattern: Zonen09 Lars coat
Size: S128 with 1cm extra body and sleeve lnegth
Fabric: Exterior main: Wool Melton from The Fabric Store
            Exterior contrast: Navy moleskin from Rathdown Fabrics
            Lining: Maille merveilleuse from Mamzelle Fourmi - Note: pattern advises a slippery liningn for the sleeves. Good advice which I ignored.
Notions: 2m navy piping, 50cm separating zipper, elastic cord, eyelets, toggles, ribbing for cuffs, snaps or velcro

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sew bossy and culotte road test

Squeezing two things in here. The first is a pair of culottes that I made myself way back in late 2014

The pattern is the Girl Friday Culottes by Liesl & Co. They're the first ever pants I've made myself and while they have their problems (which I'll go into more detail about in a moment) I have worn them a lot over the two summers since they were made.

A "day in the life" of my culottes blog post is over on the Oliver + S website. Click on the image below to go to the blog post.


I made the culottes when they were first released and there was an errata with the pattern. Turned out the markings for the deep box pleats in front and back were accidentally reversed and labelled with the incorrect sizes.

If you made a small size your pleats were too shallow and the waistband ended up too short for the culottes. Conversely, if, like me, you made a larger size (size 14) the pleats were too deep and the pants ended up much smaller than the waistband. Eventually, via confused pleas for help on the Oliver + S forum, Liesl found the error and corrected it, sending out new copies of the pattern to everyone who had purchased it up to that date.

However I still had some trouble with one section of my waistband being too long. All the other notches lined up and only one back side was too long. Fearful the culottes wound end up too small I kept the waistband length and eased the culottes onto the waistband ignoring all the notches.

But.... they've always been a bit big in the waist. They tend to drop down a bit, and then with the spread of my hips the pockets gape open.

The way the pockets are designed is really genius and the side zip is hidden neatly in one of the pockets. But, if you have a low waist to hip ratio then the culottes have to spread and the pockets end up opening. If I hoick mine up to high waist (just above belly button level) then they fall much better and the pockets don't open at all.

The other problem might be my fabric choice. This fabric was a mystery stretch twill/denim that I picked up cheaply somewhere. I think I may have been better without the stretch component.

All of that aside I've worn them a lot, and I really should have bothered making the adjustments that Sew Brunswick details here in her review of them. Given how old/faded these ones are now I think I might just sew a new pair and get the fit right. Perhaps navy linen for next summer.

The reason it's taken me over a year and a half to get them on the blog? There was a lot of talk in fashion mags and newspapers at the time of the pattern launch about the resurgence of culottes - aka man repelling pants. I'd been planning a much more complete "road test" of them. It was going to include all the things that a girl can do in her culottes and culminate with a photo of the one thing a girl probably couldn't do - that is, picking up a bloke at a party.

But therein lay my problem. I needed a party scene, a room full of eligible looking blokes and a photographer to capture me, standing alone with my wine glass. Turns out I just don't get out enough or know enough men that aren't my dad's age to have made that happen.

Anyway, for a reasonably complete photo series of me in my culottes, go check out the Oliver + S blog post.

Next up: Sew Bossy

I didn't know that was a "thing" until the fabulous Ute sent me a pattern, some fabric and a bossy edict about what to do with it! ;)

Here's the result: (- and some more photos of my Girl Friday culottes)

The pattern is a German pattern: Schnittmuster's FrauMia

Ute had made a few translations for me, but by and large the construction did look very simple.
It's a raglan sleeved t-shirt designed for woven fabrics, with a facing to finish the neckline.

At first I was kinda excited as a raglan sleeve top is one pattern I don't yet have. But then I looked at the pattern pieces and thought how on earth could this possibly work for me...

You see, the pattern pieces for the top are at their widest at the shoulders/upper chest and then narrow from there, with the narrowest point being the hips. That certainly is not how my body is shaped. I've got reasonably wide shoulders, not much of a bust, then I get a bit narrower and then a whole lot wider.

(see what I mean about the culotte pockets opening up?)
I thought about making a muslin, but the more I looked at the pattern pieces the more I thought that IF I were to make a muslin I would undoubtedly never make the pattern at all. Stiff, muslin like fabric was never going to help get this pattern over the line.

Ute had sent me this beautiful Atelier Brunette cotton lawn (chalk charcoal) and while I didn't want to waste it, I figured I was "under orders" so to speak, and surely the whole point of Sew Bossy was to try something you might otherwise not have tried....

With that decision made, I made the only measurement that would matter - my hip measurement and then tried to work out which size. Curiously, the hip measurement was about the only one missing from the pattern, so I measured the flat pattern pieces and worked out I was a Medium. Seriously, I'm a medium? how enormous would a lady's bust have to be to justify a larger size than this one??
If it had been a PDF that I'd printed myself, I would have assumed I'd made some scaling error.

OK, here's a pretty unflattering photo, but just to show how "1980s eastern block female shotputter on steroids" the shape of this top is:

The only part in the construction that had me a bit confused was how to add the seam allowance to the sleeves. That's hard to describe without showing the sleeve pattern piece, but a diagram of how/where to add the seam allowance would have been appreciated. The Japanese pattern books I've used tend to do this: the seam allowance is not included, but the pattern cutting layout shows the seam allowances drawn in so you can see how and where to add them and how much.

My seam allowance on the sleeve ended being an academic problem, as once I'd sewn the sleeve underarm seam they were far too tight and I couldn't flex a bicep at all - no good for hurling that shotput after all! I had to leave about a third of the sleeve seam unsewn and taper the seam allowance down to the point where the stitching finished.

The fabric is truly lovely. It's light, soft and as pleasant to work with as only a great quality cotton lawn can be. And so, even though the pattern was not a win for me, I have, on hot, hot days, enjoyed wearing this loose, boxy top.

I wonder if the pattern would perhaps suit someone with a bigger bust and narrow hips. Those of you who can wear big, boxy tops with your skinny, tight jeans and look fabulous.

Of course I feel dreadful that the idea that Ute had for me did not turn out as marvelous as she might have imagined it. I'm also very nervous that the fabric and pattern that I sent her shall be a success. Here's hoping.