Wednesday, 22 October 2014

KCW: Knight Hoodie

When there's a million other things to do, and then Kid's Clothes Week rolls around, that there is the perfect excuse to stop and sew!

I'm working on one or two things which I may not be able to show you before the week is out, so I thought it was the perfect time to share something I'd made earlier.

 I fell hard for this pattern when I saw Sophie sew it up during a KCW past, and I knew P would adore it. It's costume-y enough that grown ups can't help but smile when they see it, yet a 6 year old thinks it's perfect as an everyday hoodie.

I found a lovely, soft sweater fleece and then just happened to have exactly the right dark grey ribbing from when I stocked up on ribbings from the Ottobre Etsy shop. The 2x2 ribbing is the perfect weight for a jacket or pullover. The buttons and metallic silver (plastic) zip were an easy find from Spotlight.

The Charming Doodle pattern comes as a PDF which tiles together nicely and is well illustrated with clear instructions. I'm a stickler for finishes so I was a bit baffled to find no mention of finishing any seams. I know knits don't fray but it just doesn't feel right to leave them alone.

I sewed the hoodie on the sewing machine, but finished all seam allowances with the overlocker. The only spot this was slightly tricky was the hood seam where the armour is. Tricky, but still worth doing, especially as when the hood is down this seam will be somewhat visible.

The other part that had me wondering if I should deviate from the pattern was the lack of any facing or zipper shield. As I was sewing I was thinking that the quality of the finish was definitely going to fall into the category of "costume". I really needn't have worried as it doesn't look bad at all. There is now a teen and adult sized pattern and I'm pleased to see that a zipper and hood facing is used to finish the front.

Obviously, P loves it. I sewed a straight size 6 and the fit is perfect. Leaving off all the armour, this could also be a great pattern for an everyday windproof fleece hoodie. The muffler style raised front collar would be ideal for cold, winter walks to school.
But with the armour, I guess it's a little bit on theme with Kid's Clothes Week storybook theme...

kid's clothes week

I'm amazed, and a little disappointed, that I haven't found the time to really embrace the theme for this season. I am nuts for books, and adore throwing some literary references into my sewing. I've had plenty of ideas and really enjoyed imagining some book themed clothes. They just aren't going to get made this week.
Perhaps the best thing about the Knight Hoodie is this: Even a bit-of-a-hippie mum who won't normally buy any weapon toys is prepared to bend the rules when it comes to a blogpost featuring the Knight Hoodie. It's just too much fun not to co-ordinate with a sword!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The blog post where we all got lucky....

I don't usually rate my chances when it comes to blog giveaways. I don't use Facebook enough, or instagram at all, in order to do the rafflecopter ones to any great degree. But when the entry is just by leaving a comment, and I wanted to comment anyway, then I'm in. Plus, there's no way of NOT commenting when it's Supergail sewing an Oliver + S pattern in some gorgeous fabric.

The short of it; courtesy of Chio at Llama Fabrics I won 3 yards of fabric of my choice. I'd pretty much sworn off quilting cottons, but I'd heard only great things about the Art Gallery line of cottons.

I very quickly received an email from Chio, and when she didn't seem horrified at having to post to Australia, let me package up my 3 yards however I liked, and posted them so promptly, I thought I'd better make something right away!

This first Art Gallery fabric is Wild Beauty (in Saffron) by Pat Bravo. The pattern (of course) is the Oliver + S Garden Party dress, size 3 with size 4 length at the hem. The only change I made was to add piping to the yoke and waistbands. I just happened to have some teal green batiste that matched nicely.
I already had a very similar looking pattern to this one in a Japanese sewing book, so I thought long and hard about purchasing this one. That was a waste of brain time. As always, an Oliver + S pattern is worth owning. It's lovely to sew, the instructions are very clever and perfectly written and the result is a really nicely shaped party dress. I'll be curious to sew the Japanese pattern for comparison one day (only I have to add seam allowances to that one. Boring).

We found the perfect little button for the back. I might be alone in saying this, but I really like thread chains. It's a series of hand ties that I do in surgery all the time, so the technique is familiar and I'm pretty quick at it. They look really sweet and delicate. Although, looking at that picture I probably should have started at finished at the same point. Next time...
And now for my Wild Beauty modelling her dress.... We got pictures of empty space where she had been, pictures of her tongue sticking out, her legs in the air. It's not easy as you probably know! (right, Tara?)
The fit turned out to be perfect. I'm glad I chose a bit extra length as I've just had to retire quite a few dresses that were getting indecently short. As I was sewing it looked as if the bodice might be too big but it's just right for a bit (or a lot) of movement yet not looking shapeless or boxy.
And yes, the Art Gallery fabrics are very nice to sew. The wind is making it look stiff in that picture, but the fabric really does drape nicely and is much more like an apparel cotton than many quilting cottons (which shall remain in the stash until I work out what to do with them!). If you're ready for some pretty sewing, go check out the fabrics, there were so many I liked I really struggled with picking just one.
I didn't only pick one though... I figured with a yard and a half each, both kids could have something new.
For P, I chose Spirodraft (in Carbon) by Katarina Roccella. The pattern is NOT the Sketchbook shirt, surprised right? This time I did do a comparison with a very similar pattern from a Japanese sewing book. This is "boy's shirt" from Happy Homemade Vol II. I have the earlier English translated version. You may now find the same book referred to as Sew Chic Kids.
Here's a little sanity test for you: look at the picture below and imagine cutting a clothing pattern from the fabric...
If you thought "ooh, that looks like a fun challenge", then you too are f'ing nuts. We should be friends! :)
The layout and cutting was definitely most of the work (oh, and the pattern tracing and having to add seam allowances). When it came to the sewing, the diagrams and instructions were sufficient (and that's as much as you should expect from Japanese patterns). The instructions suggested hand basting the inner yoke at the shoulders then topstitching. I avoid functional hand sewing at all costs (decorative and pointless, sure I'll go there), so I did pull out the Sketchbook pattern after all and use the yoke instructions from that.

Otherwise the only difference in the shirts seemed to be the collar. This one has a separate collar stand and a more generous shape to the front collar. It was my first time sewing a two piece collar and I really like it. I didn't get any modelled photos but this straight Size 6 fits P perfectly and is a touch longer than the Sketchbook. This one could be the go to boy's shirt pattern for the next little while.

I found these perfect grey buttons with a tiny splash of blue, and while I didn't get a clear photo of it, the bottom most buttonhole is sewn in matching blue thread. Remembering to do little "pro" things like that makes me ridiculously happy.
Thanks again to Llama Fabrics and Probably Actually.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A simple skirt, some exciting news and a dress to give away....

Sometimes you just want to sew something quick and simple, that's guaranteed to get worn:

A simple tiered skirt from this book in size 90cm. It was to replace a hand-me-down pink tiered knit skirt that she'd been given by a relative and that had become obscenely short.

The pattern is written for a woven fabric, but I'd seen Lucinda do a very similar skirt in knit. Hers is from Happy Homemade Vol II and my vague memory allowed me to think I was making the same skirt. Looks like I need to make another!

The pattern is just a series of rectangles, so no tracing needed, and it's a pretty easy sew. Plus, if you're nervous about hemming knits, how cool would this look if it was made from a few different leftover t-shirts.

It is getting regular wear, I just have some model compliance issues that need sorting. :)

On to the happy news:

I decided to enter the Red Deer Pullover (that wasn't getting any wear) in The Melbourne Show, and it won first place in the Novice Sewn Garment category!  I figured it was OK to enter the novice category as I've not been sewing knits for more than 2 years, or using the overlocker for more than a year and I'd never sewn a bead before in my life.

It's quite fun having something hanging at the show. I've always loved looking at the Arts & Crafts section (the decorated cakes are insanely good) and I think I'll continue to put something in, even though now I'll have to be in the Open category and that's where the ladies-who-can-smock (said with a trembling voice) reside. Given that we're heading into warmer weather, this may never get worn before it's outgrown, but A was especially proud of seeing it at the show and was very happy to "visit" her jumper.

And so, to other things that have been outgrown. Some were loved and worn, some were hardly touched. All are in still in good working order, nice and unstained. Over on the Oliver + S forum there's a little giveaway thread started up. I've scored a beautiful ombre dotty Fairy Tale dress (on it's way in the post) and so it's my turn to clear out the cupboards. Go check out the thread as I've listed a few things there.

But here, I'm offering up a dress from the same book as the skirt I started the blog post with. It also happens to be the first garment that was shown on this blog!:

The size is 90cm and while it still fits A through the shoulders the skirt has become awkwardly short on her. In the photo above she had just turned three. Six months later she's fairly tall for her age, so I'd guess it would fit a shorter 3+ year old, or very comfortably fit a two to three year old.

Just leave a comment below if you'd like it, or, if you're an Oliver + S devotee, have a look at the other garments up for grabs over there.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Green Banyan Jeans

Since it's been school holidays and P has been conscientiously NOT wearing navy pants, it became apparent he had almost no other pants that still fit.

It turns out I've sewn six pairs of navy pants and four pairs of navy shorts and no other bottoms for him all year. Time to rectify that and revisit (first pair here) the Figgy's Banyan Pants

I'd liked the baggy up top jodhphur-esque fit of the Banyan's, although I'm not as convinced that denim is the right fabric. The pattern is begging to be sewn in linen I think.

Anyway, green denim was at hand, and my current way of thinking is that denim always needs topstitching to look right. So I went a bit mental....

I used a bronze-y coloured shiny thread leftover from this dress and a more subtle mushroomy grey thread which you can just see on the pockets and as a little detail around the fly and between the pleats on one side.

I used two strands of thread to get enough visibility and I think it's a nice balance of subtle colours with a bit of detailing to make 'em look pro.

For more oomph on the back pockets I used that stitch on the sewing machine that goes forwards and backwards over the same stitch a few times.

I love playing around with back pockets. It seems that as long as they're symmetrical then any pattern can look good. I need to start a little gallery for myself (should probably use that Pinterest thingy) to remember pocket patterns that I've seen that I want to copy. Just need to work out how to subtly photograph people's butts.

For these non school issue pants I used the little clothing label that came with the pattern (love that).

It's a curious mix of jeans sewing with a naval shore leave kind of pattern vibe. He loves them

And how cute is the top that my mother in law brought back from a recent Mediterranean cruise?! My kids wardrobes are now almost entirely sewn by me with the exception of the T-shirts from around the world. On any given day the kids could be wearing a T-shirt from Madagascar or Syria or Canada... I really wish I'd started a checklist of countries at the beginning!

I'm pleased to say that second time around the zip fly was a breeze. I think I came to zipper sewing from the wrong end. The first zipper I ever installed was an invisible zip and so I thought it was all about sewing as close as possible to the zipper teeth. Turns out with fly zips a more casual and less uptight approach works best.

Just the way these laid back pants like to rock too.

Back to school next week and I'll miss the colour this kid brings to my day. He's good fun to have around.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: A Merveilleuse Metro Modification

While I have come nowhere near to one hour a day for seven days, I have at least pushed myself to the front of the queue and sewn something for myself this Selfish Sewing Week.

After having introduced you to the Maille Merveilleuse from Mamzelle Fourmi with my Coco dress, here's the long sleeved Metro T I've been dreaming of making all winter...

But before we can have any pictures of me, the lighting-test-subject-fairy had to wave her wand in approval.

Thank you fairy, it's my show now:

The top is the Liesl & Co Metro T. This time I went down a size to a straight L, as I was making something that was more for winter weather, and this thicker knit could afford to be a bit closer to me. Actually I would like to wrap myself in about five layers of this stuff and hibernate throughout winter like some larva in a cocoon! It is sooooo soft and lovely.

This pattern is a pretty great fit for me straight out of the packet. The top length is perfect and how about those sleeves! Nothing added there for my gorilla-esque arms. (for my own record I needed 10cm added to the SBCC Tonic 2)

Here's the change up I did make. Instead of a neckband, I cut a front and back facing and then made a keyhole opening in the back. The inspiration was from this top I spied on Kollabora which in turn was a copy of a Petit Bateau top. I adore that one but I have such a surplus of navy/white striped tops but no taupe and spotty ones, until now!

The ribbon was a gift from Mamzelle Fourmi along with my order. I LOVE it when a fabric shop does that. There were two little bags of fabric swatches, this ribbon and some purple cord that co-ordinates with the pockets on my Coco. I hadn't initially planned to use this fabric for the top idea, but when the right ribbon was already there, it seemed like it was destined to be.

I probably could have made my opening more cup shaped and less of a complete circle, but I like it after all, and the good news is there's still enough stretch in the neckhole that I don't have to untie it to put it on or take it off. I tried tying a neat bow upside down behind my neck and no surprise, I'm not very good at it!

It took me a while to get around to making this, so Selfish Sewing Week was just the motivation I needed. Of course, now it's spring, and I'll probably have to put it away for a few months. I imagine that I may have to pat it every once in a while, until autumn comes around and I can wear it again.

It still feels very weird taking photos of myself, but today I was using the older camera body and the remote cord didn't fit so the kids were pressing the button. That made it feel slightly more normal...

But of course they really wanted to get into the pictures. Alright come on in....

Nope, apparently not with me in the way!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Coco et moi: est-ce que nous nous sommes réconciliés?

You know the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons? It was all over the sewing blogosphere a while back... Well I just can't decide if we're reconciled with each other. Do I do it justice? Does it work for me?.... (if you're not up for a long, rambling pattern review, skip to the pictures at the end!)

I thought and thought about this pattern purchase. You see I really wanted a striped boatneck dress, and I'd found some awesome fabric at Mamzelle Fourmi.....

It's called Maille Merveilleuse, which you can imagine means marvellous knit fabric! I bought this colour and two other fabrics. When they arrived I was surprised that they had a slightly brushed feel (I'd expected a harder face like a ponte knit) and I started thinking they were too soft and lush to be grown up clothing. I should be blanketing babies in this stuff. It is soooooo good.

Unusually I wondered if I really needed to buy another pattern.... Couldn't I just lengthen a pattern I already had into an A-line dress? I started searching the web for reviews of the Coco dress. A lot of slim, leggy bloggers were raving about it. A brave few commented on needing a sway back adjustment or darts of some sort. Mostly everyone seemed in raptures.

Then I found some reviews on a sewing pattern review site where there was some genuine criticism of the sleeve/armscye shape. From there I accidently stumbled into the rabbit hole of hatred that is Get Off My Internets (no link provided cause it's awful). There was so much nasty invective directed at this poor woman, I presume because she'd been on television and they hadn't....

It was enough for me to buy the pattern right there and then. Yep, I had my doubts about whether I needed it, but I just wanted to put one over the haters by giving her some of my hard earned. So, Tilly had my cash, I had her pattern and I had some lovely fabric. Everyone should be happy right?

I stuck the PDF together (a nice enough PDF to tile) and traced off the size 6 as that was exactly where my measurements had put me. It seemed a big size so I did that most precise of fitting techniques where you surf the net for pictures of women who've made that size and ask yourself if you're bigger or smaller than she is. I only found one woman who seemed about my size, and had sewn a size 6, and she wished she'd sized down. Also, those pattern pieces were considerably bigger than the SBCC Tonic tops that I'd just made.

Tilly says "don't worry if it's a bit big, you can bring in the side seams". Now, I'm no fitting expert but that shits me. The shoulders will still be hanging down your arms, the neckhole will still be enormous, and those stripes that you've carefully cut probably won't line up anymore.

I decided to trace off the size 5  in the top length and make a practice run... (the sleeve length below is what you can get from a 1 metre cut and nothing to do with the pattern)

Ok, so it's not the nicest fabric (feels good but looks pretty awful), but I could see what the pattern had me worried about. The waist is a bit high for me and the A line starts too early and is too wide. I'd need to lengthen there. The neckline wasn't boat-y enough and would need to be raised at the front, and yep the sleeves did look a bit weird. I even wondered if I'd accidently put them in back to front. (for the record, nope)

It only took a few more squishy feels of the stripey knit and I just had to forge ahead and get my dress made.

I ended up lengthening the pattern by 7cm (about 3") through the waist. I thought I'd want all that length at the hem, as I'm not much of an above-the-knees kind of girl, but I probably lopped about 3cm (1.25") off the bottom before hemming it.

This is just the single most comfortable piece of clothing I've ever made for myself and I've been slouching about in it all winter. But you can see above, that if you're not striking a Tilly-esque pose then the sleeve does get a weird twisting effect at the armhole.

Weird sleeve with a normal arm position above

And now, fixed by sticking my arms out. Cute pose, but not all that great a solution.

I think (but I really don't know about these things) that I need to reduce the depth of the armscye, but I've no idea how to do that, or to alter the shape of the curve to make it fit better.

I raised the centre front neckline by 1 inch as I wanted it to just touch my collarbones, which is roughly where all my various stripey French tops hit.

And then what to do about this?....

I could do some of those diamond shaped darts that I have sewn in other dresses, but there's no way the stripes would look good. I think a sway back adjustment is probably what's needed (never done that before). I'm certainly not alone in having had this problem as my search of Coco's on blogs found plenty of people had a little pool of fabric. Some hadn't noticed, some wished they knew how to fix it and some had added darts.

I'm sounding pretty grouchy, aren't I? But there's a lot of positive things to say about this pattern. I have to say it's beautifully presented. The instructions are very well written and the tips for stabilising the shoulders, sewing the neckline and working with knits are top notch. It should be an awesome pattern for a beginner sewer, or someone new to sewing knit fabric if only they get lucky with the right fit to start with.

So, I should just smile, strike another pose with my arms out and get over myself, right?!

This week is Selfish Sewing Week and I have a long sleeved top cut out of some more of this lovely maille merveilleuse which I hope to make before the end of the week. Meanwhile I'm at least catching up by doing some selfish blogging.

Oh, and for those of you who do have newborn babies and have read this far (love you), you'll be pleased to hear I have leftovers of this very snuggly fabric and I even bought the Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pattern especially to use up the remnants!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Sketchbook Shirt for a Duck

Last night was P's first School Concert. (it was also my regular French class which involves adult conversation, some wine, good cheese...). I'm sure you know which I attended.

I did the right thing and went and watched my little duck on stage. It went a bit like this: "Quack. Ooooh, lovely mud. Quack" then along with 24 other little prep kids, all dressed in check shirts, jeans and gumboots, they did a little dance. (they weren't all ducks. There were cows, pigs and horses and one appropriately bossy Mrs Wishy Washy)

So, my kid's first ever school concert required my first ever school concert costume. The notice came home from school the week before, saying they needed Jeans (got those), Gumboots (check) and a Check shirt (nope...).
But I did have one of mine that I had set aside when I did my big wardrobe clean out thinking it would be perfect to cut up for the kids one day. It was a Country Road shirt made out of Lyocell - which I hadn't heard of, but is a lovely soft, fine weave with a silky, soft feel. Checking that Wikipedia link, it turns out it's Tencel without the brand name rights. Makes sense, 'cause that's how it feels.
Anyway, I had thought it could easily make a sleeveless blouse for A. I had not envisaged trying to cut a long sleeved, size 6 Sketchbook shirt for P. But I did, and check out the photo of the remnants post cutting!

I am so proud of that! I had to unpick every seam. I thought and thought about how it could all fit. Thought I had it sorted but it was late and didn't start cutting. Thank goodness, as I'd failed to realise the check pattern was decidedly unidirectional and I would have muffed it big time. More thinking, more laying out pieces and I finally got it sorted.

I managed to cut every piece (I'd almost resigned myself to a different fabric for the inner yoke and the under collar) and I even added 1 inch to the length and 3/4" to the sleeves. Woohoo!

I didn't allow myself to entertain the idea of much pattern matching, but did try to get the front pieces and at least the uppermost placket to match. With some freaky sewing luck, one side seam also matches perfectly (but not the other) and bizarrely, without the slightest intention, the upper and under collar were absolutely spot-on.
An in-progress photo that had to go immediately to facebook!

Kind of pointlessly exciting because once that seam is pressed and the collar stitched you'd never notice, but weirdly thrilling all the same, hey?!

Speaking of stitching, I edgestitched and topstitched everything, giving it more of a country feel. The sleeve seams are pressed towards the shoulder and edgestitched and topstitched too. The side seams were flat felled, which is so easy to do with lovely soft, fine fabric. I've previously only done it with denim and thicker terry knit and found it to be a truly painful way to sew seams. This fabric resold me on the idea.

I had really wanted the back yoke on the bias, and while it's got a line of needle holes across it from an old seam, I managed it. The main back panel is cut about 1/2 an inch off the fold making the box pleat a bit scanty compared to the original pattern, but that was my only concession required to get it all out of the one thrifted shirt.

You can't beat this pattern for instructions like the sleeve placket. So neat and satisfying. (what's not looking so good is photos using the old D80 camera body and pushing the ISO in order to avoid using the flash - so grainy)

Love the fabric, love the pattern, LOVE the challenge of getting it all cut from one old shirt and REALLY, REALLY LOVE my little duck!