Thursday, 8 October 2015

Lisette B6182 - Monochrome for me

Suddenly, I was seeing black and white fabrics everywhere and I found myself fondling a patterned rayon challis at Spotlight. It needed to come home with me and be turned into a summer top to wear.


This is my first ever me-made woven tee. The pattern is Lisette for Butterick B6182. A lovely simple tee with a kimono sleeve with a cuff and a neckband facing. No fastenings or closures of any kind, so it's a quick and easy sew.

I made a size 16 and added just one inch to the length. I knew it was intended to be fairly short and I liked the idea of a top that I could wear with a high-ish waisted skirt or my still unblogged Girl Friday Culottes.

The top has a bit of an A line flare. At this size, on me it's a good fit in the shoulders and doesn't look oversized or sloppy. Then it kicks out to be quite a swingy little top. I love it!

It also has a centre seam at the front with a bust dart which brings the centre front in close to my chest. This is novel for me and I really appreciate how it gives the appearance of two separate boobs, rather than one "frontage" from which the fabric falls. Maybe that doesn't work if you have an ample bosom, or less space between your boobs. but I'm liking it a lot.

The fabric, which feels slinky and light was really easy to work with and I'm a complete convert to rayon challis now. I'm sure I'll have another one of these before the summer is out.

Now, out into the full sun to see a bit more of the skirt:

The skirt is from the same pattern. It's got a bit of a safari skirt vibe with the deep inverted front pleat and the patch pockets. I threw caution to the wind and just picked a size 16 and went with it.

I'm more than happy with the fit, but if I was to make another I would split the waistband into front and back waistbands so that I could taper it slightly and have the top of the waistband a bit narrower. It tends to stick straight up and away from my waist a bit at the top.

While I didn't change the shape of the waistband, I did deviate from how the pattern suggested to sew it. The patterns says to slipstitch the waistband facing to the invisible zipper and then slipstitch the whole inner waistband at the waist seam. Blow that. I turned the waistband inside out and machine stitched it at the zipper, then smoothed and pinned to edgestitch the outer waistband and catch the waistband facing in that seam. Quick and effective.

This outfit worked perfectly for a warm and dusty day sightseeing at Sovereign Hill. That was enough posing and we're off to pan for gold or shoe a horse or some such thing.

Pattern: Lisette B6182 blouse and skirt
Size: 16 (1 inch length added to blouse)
Fabrics: Blouse - Rayon challis from Spotlight. Skirt: Lightweight drill from Rathdowne Fabrics

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Juggling Jott Jump Rope Dress

"And, now, come to this spot
Where the spotlight is hot
And you'll see in the spotlight
A Juggling Jott
Who can juggle some stuff
You might think he could not...

Such as twenty-two question marks,
Which is a lot.
Also forty-four commas
And, also, one dot!
That's the kind of Circus McGurkus I've got!"

Dr Seuss - If I Ran the Circus

This dress certainly has more than forty-four commas, and many more dots! 

I first saw this fabric about three years ago and loved the idea of a punctuation dress. I bought the fabric an embarrassingly long time ago (from Urban Sew) and stashed it away. With the Oliver + S monochrome challenge underway it seemed the perfect time to finally sew it up.

I didn't get a lot of enthusiasm from A when she first saw it, but once I got "If I Ran the Circus" off the bookshelf and read her the passage about the Juggling Jott, and pointed out all her commas and dots, she was all over it. 

Personally, I love it. The pattern is the Oliver + S Jump Rope dress and it never fails to please. This is my third version of View A (here's the first and second) and I've made view B three times before as well (one, two and three). I've also used the pattern to make a girl's polo shirt and borrowed the placket instructions for a boy's polo shirt. If you want to feel like a sewing rock star then sew this placket. You are guaranteed to be doing the happy dance around your sewing table and feeling very smug.

The details of the dress pattern are a bit lost in the print from a distance, so let's have some close ups shots:

The very first dress I made for A was this pattern. I made a size 2, simply because I could not see myself dressing a non ambulatory baby in such a detailed dress. When I'd finished, it looked enormous and I could barely imagine her ever growing into it.

But she did eventually grow (oh those first 20 months seemed to go on for ever) and she wore it until she was almost 4 years old. It's a fairly generously sized pattern, but at the same time it's one of those dresses that is best put on by putting the kids hands in first then arms above their head to bring it down and get the shoulders in.

Anyway, without measuring her, I randomly nominated a size 4 with the skirt length extended to the size 5 line. And it's a perfect fit.

While I'm prone to turning my nose up at quilting cottons, whenever I do sew one I find it refreshingly easy to work with. This Moda fabric behaved very nicely and while it's a coarser fabric to the Art Gallery quilting cottons that I last used, it drapes nicely and still feels soft.

I'm kind of hoping that she'll choose to wear this dress to one of her school orientation mornings next month. If she's anything like her brother she won't be able to stop herself from pointing out which are the commas, and which are the full stops.  And that's the kind of nerdy grammar stuff that makes my heart sing. :)

Summer has come early, and somewhat ferociously, so we headed down to the beach to play and take some pictures. At first she wanted to hold my hand to get from one rock to another, but within a few minutes she was leaping and following P as best she could. It's amazing to watch those physical skills get practiced and the confidence that comes with it. Of course they both ended up with wet shoes, but hey, it was warm.

If I had my choice between sitting and watching organised sport on a Saturday morning, or watching rock hopping I know which I'd choose. If only the dead sea birds didn't smell so bad.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Double Gauze Playdate Dress

While I had a big enough pile of black and white fabrics to play with, once the Oliver + S monochrome sewalong started I kept seeing more black and white fabrics everywhere I looked.

I couldn't resist some double gauze from Spotlight. I had long wanted to sew the Playdate dress but could never figure out what I wanted to do with the yoke section, with this double gauze I found my answer and just had to make it immediately!

The Playdate dress has this lovely yoke. It is most often sewn with a white yoke, patterned dress fabric and the two frills with a row of buttons down the middle. Completely adorable, but often a bit too old fashioned or church-y for my taste.

Of course, Brittany of A Stitch A Day had already made the white yoked version that I really did like (she always makes the dress I wish I'd thought of!) and I was most particularly fond of this other chambray version that Liesl herself made. - I love the raw edged frill and Japanese pattern vibe of that dress.

The double gauze was perfectly reversible and that gave me the simple solution to the yoke. I would have been tempted to leave it plain, or maybe pin an off-centre raw edged fabric flower (like this one), but A liked the ruffles idea.

The flat piping is kind of subtle for being black but it is better for being there and defining the yoke's edge.

In among the stash of  individual buttons salvaged from old garments that my mother in law sends my way, was the perfect button.

The double gauze was nice to sew, although a little shifty at times and the edgestitching on the yoke definitely isn't my best work.  But I'm happy to say it washes and wears well, and feels so fluffy and light, it must be a delight to wear.

Of course now I think why on earth did I wait so long to make this dress. It is an absolutely darling pattern. The fit through the shoulders and chest is perfect and then the dress has this lovely coccoon shaped skirt.

The inverted pleat of the dress front is echoed at the sleeves where they tuck into the cuff. Just gorgeous. Plus there are hidden in-seam pockets which you can fill with treasures, or sand...

Now that I know how much I love the shape and fit of the dress I will find a way to make this pattern again. I can see myself being tempted to do cross stitch or embroidery on the yoke but I think the one I will love to see her wear would be an all chambray version.

I made a straight size 5 with no modifications whatsoever. I haven't measured her in quite a while so I'm just going on her being a relatively tall, healthy sized  four and half year old. Not very  precise of me, I know.

I'm very glad for the monochrome challenge as otherwise I would have continued to let this lovely pattern marinade on the shelf. It's out of print now, but you may find paper versions on Ebay, or it's available as digital download pattern.

There's more black and white to come, just as last month was all animals, this month is Octonochrome!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Carnival of the Animals: Part III - The Scrub Hen

As chaperone to the cheetah and the zebra it was fast becoming apparent that I was expected to choose an animal for "dressing up" to go to the opening night of The Carnival of the Animals.

The kids pestered me to pick one and, thinking I could just wear a simple, drab brown dress from out of my wardrobe, I nominated a "scrub hen".

That was too vague an answer for P, who wanted to know what exactly a scrub hen was. I wasn't even sure there was such a thing, it just sounded like a nice, plain brown, barely noticeable female bird. Somewhere along the way the answer got changed to Brush Turkey. The turkey part made the kids laugh so we went with that - although a Brush Turkey is actually quite a striking (in a weird turkey way) bird.

For the twitchers out there, what I was imagining was definitely more Mallee Fowl (the fact that you can barely see the birds in those Wiki pictures is perfect!)

OK, so you're probably not reading this blog to learn about Australian native fowl, right? Let's talk about this dress!

Although before we do, here's a close up of my earrings that I made myself with some feather trim and little metal crimps. I'd initially thought I'd make a feather decorated headband or "fascinator" type thing but that seemed like too much bother. These are pure costume jewellery and appropriately cheap and easy.

I had fallen in love with the Vogue Vena Cava dress when I saw Liesl's version. I tracked down a copy of the pattern which is out of print and not too easy to find. I had no immediate intention to make it, but when I saw this variegated brown jersey at GJs fabrics I knew I had my scrub hen dress.

I had correctly bought the larger of the two pattern sizes and I spent a few days looking at the pattern pieces and wondering how on earth I could merge from one size above the waist to a larger size at the hips (my usual required adjustment). They are decidedly odd looking pattern pieces!

Eventually I decided to stick with one size and just use a smaller seam allowance on the skirt part if needed. Then I looked at which size to choose and realised I was about 2-3" larger in all my measurements than the largest size! What?!! oops.

Oh well. I drafted off the largest size and cut it out anyway. It's stretchy fabric, and at $10 metre I was ready to fail if that was how it was to be.

I scared myself further as I spread the fabric out on the carpet where I do most of my cutting, pinned the pattern tracing and then cut. As I cut each piece it "pinged" back to the size it was before I'd carefully spread it and suddenly seemed considerably smaller than the traced pattern piece. It would seem the carpet was too grippy and had allowed the fabric to be stretched and stay stretched until cut.

Understandably I was feeling quite ready to fail with respect to producing a wearable dress. I decided to enjoy the process and learn from the pattern anyway.

I'm kind of habituated to sewing knit garments quickly and using the overlocker. The way these pattern pieces were going to go together that wouldn't be possible. I slowed down, followed the instructions and really enjoyed making the dress. This in progress Instagram photo shows the fun of having no idea how it's going to come together!

I kept the skirt's side seams as per the pattern due to the pocket construction, but I sewed the centre front (pointless with all that gathering) and centre back seams with a narrower seam allowance to give more wiggle room. I've no idea if it made a difference but I was worried if the backside was too tight there might be too much visible undies line.

I'm not the first one to say it, but it would probably be wise to drop the back hem a bit as the skirt has a tendency to lift at the centre back. Especially in contrast to the front that sinks a little with the weight of the long ties.

I also read other sewing blogs where it was noted that the sleeves sit lower than the pattern illustration. I wasn't fussed to change that as I kind of liked the idea of a bit more sleeve coverage. I didn't trouble with the topstitching of the sleeves as it would have been lost in the print, but I'd definitely make this dress again in a solid and do the topstitching as per the pattern.

The verdict? I love it! It's as easy to wear as t-shirt, it looks pretty dressy and it's brown. Perfection! Add in that it was a joy to make and I had no expectations of it working out and I really am quite delighted.

We were at the zoo on Monday morning before the theatre that night and a good friend kindly took some photos of me in my natural habitat, the "scrub".

Here I am using my big turkey feet to tend to my nest! :)

And then, in the evening, the kids and I headed off to the theatre. Our little animal tribe.

We had a great night out, the music was lovely and the acrobats amazing. I like to think we were the best dressed creatures prowling the city streets that night! Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Carnival of the Animals: Part II - The Cheetah

Mean mum that I am, I vetoed my son's suggestion of a fake fur animal onesie to wear to the theatre tonight. But, for opening night of the Carnival of the Animals he was allowed to choose any animal for his clothes. He chose the cheetah.

 The original plan was for a pair of cheetah jeans. I'd hoped they'd be subtle enough to double for everyday wear. Scouring the interwebs I found endless cheetah print fabrics that were silks or chiffons but nothing that would be hard wearing enough for boys pants.

At The Fabric Store I found a great light grey / dark grey denim and bought some, but he declared it was very obviously jaguar, not cheetah - and then gave me a lecture on the difference. OK, stash the jaguar print and get back to searching for proper cheetah fabric.

I found this cotton sateen at Spotlight and thought if he could wear bold cheetah print then why not cheetah print with a slight sheen!

The pants are the Art Museum Trousers by Oliver + S. I threw in black topstitching everywhere I could to try and make them look more like jeans and less like Hugh Hefner's pyjama pants.

I didn't think to focus on them for a photo, but you can just see on the edge of the picture above that I put little pyramid rivets at the base of the slant pockets.

The welt pockets were initially almost invisible and so I stitched around them to give them some definition. This takes a little bit of thought to prevent yourself accidentally stitching the pocket closed. The stitching needs to be done in two sections: the top horizontal line first with maybe one stitch taken into the vertical line. Tie those threads off, then start again with the pocket lifted upwards and out of the way. Now you can topstitch the sides and the bottom of the welt.

The pattern suggests just one belt loop at the back slightly offset from the centre. There is enough of the belt loop tube to create two, so I always do.

The only other modification was to line the trousers:

It would be possible to sew the lining to the waistband facing, but I didn't think of that. I basted the lining to the trousers before attaching the waistband, then finished the waistband facing with some left over bias binding that was just the right rust colour.

On a city street the pants look pretty loud and out there, but up a tree they almost do look camouflaged!

They're a straight size 7 and this is one pants pattern that definitely does not need length added, they are very generous in the leg length.

Don't ask me about the modelling. He was working it! :)

The top is the Parachute Polo again which I'd made here as part of my practice run for this outfit. Same size, same extra sleeve length.

I thought I'd done a great job turning the collar and rolling it so that the upper collar was slightly over the under collar, but then when I topstitched it it all seemed to want to curl back up. The perfect collar really does need two separate pattern pieces for the under and upper collars but I would hardly be bothered with that for a kid's polo.

Like I said, don't ask, I just don't know! :)

I really like this polo as the placket can be mostly hidden which is a nice point of difference to my own polo experiment. I'm happy to say that both the trousers and the shirt have been worn on their own and are really not that hard to bear when mixed with other everyday clothes.

His mask was from the local party shop and I used fabric glue to cover it. Nice and easy!

Ready for some cheetah action?

I'm a bit of a culture snob when it comes to attending the theatre. It's definitely a nice dress or shirt with a collar type of place. I think my little cheetah is sufficiently well dressed and plenty animal enough!

Of course the cheetah had to chase the zebra a bit, but luckily just for hugs, not to eat her...

And then it all got a bit confusing as the cheetah was still giving the camera Blue Steel while the zebra started roaring too

We're off to the theatre in a few hours and tomorrow I'll share what I wore.... See you then

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Carnival of the Animals: Part I - The Zebra

The sewing around here has definitely taken a wild turn with lots of animal print, and here's why: Tomorrow night, the kids and I are going to the Playhouse to see The Carnival of the Animals.

It's opening night and kids are invited to dress up as an animal. So, I let the kids pick which animal they'd like to be, and then set out to make some theatre worthy clothes to represent their chosen animal.

First up is our little zebra ballerina:

The brief for this dress was exactly that; a zebra ballerina dress. It had to be obviously zebra, and as sticky-outey as possible in a dress that isn't actually a tutu. Beyond those requirements she gave me free rein.

The dress is my favourite party dress (one, two, three and four), the Fairy Tale dress by Oliver + S. I'd like to say I could make this dress with my eyes closed now, but I always seem to press the waist seam allowances the wrong way and then attach the zipper before realising my mistake and ripping it out again. The instructions are perfectly clear, I just seem to like making the same mistakes over and over.

Even though it was sewn twice it's still an invisible zipper that I can be happy with. I couldn't possibly try to match the patterns at the back after cutting the fabric to centre the front pattern. But I can't complain about how the bodice part lined up as it looks every bit as good as if I had tried. Freaky sewing luck strikes again!

Initially I searched online for a zebra fabric. There are a few quilting cottons that looked OK, but I was holding out hope for something that had a bigger print rather than tiny repeats of an irregular stripe. I was also hoping for a luxe or shiny looking fabric.

Most local fabric stores I tried were devoid of shiny zebra print fabric until I stumbled on this stuff on Sydney Rd. The selvedge has "100% pure silky italian style" written in a font that's reminiscent of African stick figures. There's nothing silk-like or stylish about it, it is pure ethno-polyester and it is perfect! Since I've made this dress I've seen a zebra print cotton sateen in Spotlight, so maybe the shiny zebra is an upcoming trend.

To get as much "poofiness" in the skirt as possible I chose the cheap, stiff net stuff rather than the nice soft bridal tulle. Then I used three layers of it rather than one as per the pattern.

Gathering that much netting to the skirt was not easy and it took a lot of patience not to snap the bobbin threads. I've heard dental floss is good for gathering this kind of thing and I wish I'd remembered to try it. Once I'd sewn the lining to the dress at the waistband the seam allowances wanted to stick up too much. I ended up sewing the tulle seam allowances down to the lining. Bit like understitching them. Exceedingly fiddly to do but it worked to keep the skirt lying nicely.

The lining is a simple white voile cotton from the same shop. I think I spent a total of $25 on fabric. I overbought on the pure silky stylish zebra fabric so that I'd have enough for the skirt panels. However the fabric was wide enough that I could cut the skirt in one piece and not have to match panels of print. Sadly that means I have quite a bit of zebra fabric leftover. I may have to "lose" it somehow. :)

The dress is mostly view B, but without the giant sash and bow. I would have been happy to have no belt but A requested the little belt and bow like her other Fairy Tale dress. It's a size 5 but with about 3" added to the skirt length to bring it down to knee length and balance out the big print on the skirt.

We were all going to have animal masks to match our outfits (yep, I'm getting in on the animal dress ups too!), but I found trying to glue this fabric to anything was impossible.

Instead, I turned to the wonderful tutorial by Marie-Michelle on the Oliver + S blog and made a Dior Rose to attach to a headband.

Those little rose buds were fun to make. I made it more time consuming than necessary by doing it all by hand, but I caught up with some TV watching while hand sewing.

There was a sneak peek of this dress on the Oliver + S blog as we're having a monochrome sew along. I've got some more black and white things cut out and I'm starting the sewing. But there will be more animals to introduce first....

Be sure to come back soon for Carnival of the Animals: Part II