Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Racing and baby sewing - odd blog mix, perhaps...

Ever since I had my second (and last!) baby I've hardly raced my bikes. But, once a year a race comes around that I can't help but enter.

The Race the Train is a mountain bike versus steam train race and it's fun. Add in that it's only 17km and not overly technical and even my fat, old legs can enjoy themselves! The kids ride the train with my parents while Flipper and I race on our mountain bikes.

The race is out in the country not far from where the lovely Jenya (While She's Sleeping) lives, and we've had some nice email chats around this time of year before. This time, I was planning to catch up with her, her lovely daughter and very cute new(ish) baby.

That was all the excuse I needed to make a couple of garments using the Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pattern as a new baby gift.

I made the size 3-6 month shirt and bodysuit. They looked tiny when I drafted the pattern, but not so tiny when I sewed them up, and then quite generously sized once I met little baby L. I hope they fit her at some time when they're kind of seasonally appropriate.

The first one is a little bit of the Art Gallery print that I had  leftover from this dress

Then I had just the cutest Japanese cotton for another...

The background is fairly pink, so I entertained my love of brown for the snaps and binding. I hope Jenya doesn't mind! The print is adorable. Each of those little characters remind me of the world dress type dolls my grandmother had, only with a quirky Japanese twist. 

We meet up at a playground and the kids had a play while Jenya and I chatted as only two sewing nutters can. Lovely!

My race the next day was cut short when a teenage kid hit the dirt just up ahead of me, and it was apparent he'd broken his collarbone and wasn't going any further. I stopped along with another rider, and we kept him company until the ambulance arrived. The train had just caught us at this point and the train drivers later jokingly confessed they'd seen the kid get the "speed wobbles and go over the bars" but they "couldn't stop and go back".

Once upon a time I would have had a stopwatch/speedo/lap timer on my bike and would have lapped out for first aid, restarted and raced home for a finish. Nowadays I was happy to cruise home with the other chap who'd stopped and chat about how we would have beaten the train, but for....

If you're up for a bit of real winning, not just imagined glory, then don't forget to enter the Japanese Sewing Week giveaway with has another day and a bit to go. See my post here to enter the giveaway and check out everyone's makes via Made by Sara's blog

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Japanese Sewing Week - Pyjamas, a skirt and a GIVEAWAY

Konnichiwa! And welcome to Day 2 of the inaugural Japanese Sewing Week.

I had just given my Japanese sewing books a good working over for Kid's Clothes Week (here, here and here) when the call went out to join a Japanese Sewing Week. Never one to let life get in the way of sewing I was IN!

If you're new to my blog then hello. I use this space to document what I've made - hopefully in order to prevent ever making the same mistakes twice (you can guess how well that works). You may choose to skip to the giveaway at the end, just look at the pictures or read every word. Mostly I stick to sewing talk but sometimes get distracted by native Australian fowl, or some such....

My daughter has been wanting a "real, proper nightie" for some time now. I have a strong pyjama making history (this being my 18th pair) but never yet, a nightie. And still, I haven't sewn a nightie, as these are, you guessed correctly, pyjamas. :)

But they're white and lacy and she adores them. (to the point of constantly rolling around or prancing and generally making any decent photography almost impossible!)

The pattern is pattern 19 from Girl's Life by Mayumi Yamagata (ebay link) published by Bunka Books. I picked up my copy in a local secondhand bookshop when it was closing down.

The patterns are for girls from size 100cm to 150cm but each pattern only covers the smaller or larger half of the size range. There are quite a few patterns that would make fantastic school uniform dresses, a couple of pretty dresses, a pair of shorts, some overall shorts and a jacket. And, of course, the nightie and pyjamas. The nightie was in the larger size range, so the pyjamas were chosen instead. I've made size 110cm for my 4&3/4 year old.

This pattern sheet caused me to pause... It's organised by size rather than pattern. So first, you work out which are the markings for the size you want to make. Then you find the mass of those type of lines. This is the size you want, but every pattern in the book is there, one on top of the other. The individual patterns are numbered along each line, so you need to do a sort of dot-to-dot to trace off the correct pattern. Of course don't forget to add seam allowances.

The pintucks are created on the fabric first and then the front of the blouse is cut from the pintucked fabric. I misread the diagrams and didn't add the required 1cm seam allowance to the front neckline. Oops. It's not entirely clear from the cutting diagram, but you DO need to add a seam allowance to the front neckline.

My other gaff was in not realising that the notions called for 1cm lace all around, EXCEPT for those bits at each side of the pintucks. They should have been a smaller, half centimetre lace. That meant I ran out of 1cm lace just shy of the second trouser leg. As the law of Blog Tour Sewing would have it, the extra lace I bought doesn't quite match the original. You wouldn't have noticed, but like I said, I confess in order to try not to make the same mistakes twice!

The pyjama pants have a nice, comfy waistband incorporating two channels for 5mm (1/4inch) elastic. No idea why that feels much nicer but it does.

Now you can reach out to try and win some fabulous prizes through the Rafflecopter widget below. Three lucky winners will receive either 2 japanese sewing books from Tuttle Publishing or a $40 fabric voucher from Urban Sew. Great sewing books and gorgeous fabrics! Go for it.

This should be the point where I stop, and direct you to another participating blog. However, just as I was sewing the last hem of these pyjamas there was an announcement that blog participants who sewed from a Tuttle publishing book could be in the running for a prize for themselves.

Ok life, step aside again, there's more sewing to be done!

In almost no time, this darling little skirt sewed itself together. It's pattern C (double layered skirt) from Sew Sweet - Handmade Clothes for Girls by Yuki Araki. I'm a huge fan of Yuki Araki's clothes designs for girls, having a few of her other books. They are always such lovely designs and very nicely fitted. This is the only book of hers that I have in English (thank you Tuttle!) and I enjoy reading the notes about fit, styling and her own daughters that are scattered throughout the book.

It's a simple skirt, being two rectangles gathered to a waistband. My original intention had been to put the patterned skirt under the plain skirt, but when I'm trying to sew and ignore demands (like kindy pick up time) I am prone to errors. Still, we both like it better this way!

I created my "ribbon" using some satin turned into a narrow tube. By using lightweight fabrics for the skirt I could do french seams for the side seams and fully enclose the waistband seams so it's nice and clean on the insides.

She wasn't drawing on my pattern books, but writing me teeny, tiny notes in her fairy sized notebook.

That must be enough from me! Check out today's other Japanese Sewing Week participants:

If you sew anything from a Japanese Sewing book then join in the party by using the hashtag #japanesesewingweek. And don't forget to check the Japanese Sewing Week roll call over at Made by Sara for each day's links.
Skirt: pattern "c" Sew Sweet, size 110cm, Cotton print from The Fabric Store, mystery pink polycotton from the stash, satin bias trim for ribbon.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Vogue 9023 - sung to a Gershwin tune....

You know the one?

"...they're writing songs of love, but not for me".

I'll sew this dress once again, all the while singing "I'm sewing Vogue 9023 , but not for me".

Will I wear it again? Almost certainly not.

So, what's going on? Well, my mum rang me and announced that she required a dress for a formal dinner party and she had decided that I should make it for her.

I protested as best I could that I wasn't up to the task, but she wasn't believing it. I tried to convince her that fitting fancy dresses to adult women was a vastly different ball game to sewing for my flat, plank shaped children. She still wasn't buying it. Out of kindness I stopped short of using frightening phrases like "round shoulders" and "thick waists" to highlight the fitting issues....

Instead I insisted it would be a knit dress. Bear in mind she lives out in the country and there would be no chance for fitting. I think i was justified and I'm comfortable sewing with stretchy stuff. It might just work...

So I trawled the internet for a suitable pattern. Mum's requirements were that the dress should have sleeves, preferably just above elbow length, an empire waist and a full front skirt to hide her tummy.

Vogue 9023 seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

We are pretty much the same size in the shoulders, so I thought I'd sew up a version in a suitable size, with no alterations that might be wearable for me and would work as a muslin to see any fit changes required for her version. I picked fabrics from the stash, and started to get quite excited about the dress. It came together easily and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, and then I put it on....

Not too dreadful from the front. The bodice is definitely too short for me and I think my choice of using the skirt fabric for the waistband has visually shortened it even more. If i tug it down it looks a bit better, but then the neck facing wants to roll out even more than it's already inclined to do.

The pattern suggested a fabric with four way stretch and my thick knit stripe has plenty of 2 way stretch but nothing vertically. With the weight of the skirt it may not have needed extra length if the bodice would stretch downwards... 

The back is probably passable also. In this view the choice of a denim jegging type knit for the skirt is looking like a wise choice. Not too lumpy or clingy. I've found only two other reviews of this dress online, and neither are positive - both perhaps due to fabric choice and having too lightweight a jersey. The review on Idle Fancy is worth a read as it's quite amusing in the way that a well blogged dress fail can be. If you can read French then L'Atelier de Sybelle seems to have picked a jersey that was too light as well.

The pattern suggested hook and eye closures for the back facing, but since mine was a more casual dress I used some navy buttons and hair tie elastic loops.

Where my jegging, front pleated, empire waist skirt comes a massive cropper is in the side view:

The combination of high waist, pleated front and the sticky out jegging fabric is not working for me at all. Hello maternity wear!

A little while ago, Jennifer of ParrishPlatz posted a lovely top on her blog with a final photo that showed her looking "like" she was pregnant and had a sore back. I missed reading that one important word and set about congratulating her in a comment. Of course she set me straight and I was suitably embarrassed.

Anyway, here's the photo that was needed for this blog post!

I'm pretty certain that there will be leggings for the girl made out of that skirt come next winter. the top part was only a small amount of fabric and so no great sacrifice.

Now, I need to get cracking and start over with the required changes to try and make this work for my mum.

By this weekend...

Pattern: Vogue 9023 view A
Size: 16
Modifications: None.
For mum I will 1. Lengthen the bodice, 2 lengthen the sleeve to elbow, 3. Pinch out about 1 inch from the centre back below shoulders down to her flat bum.
Fabric: stripe ponte knit from Stylish fabrics. Stretch denim knit remnant from Rathdowne fabrics

Monday, 2 November 2015

Save the whales (and the leftover pumpkin)

A local kid friend was having a birthday on Halloween, and while her mun sews gorgeous things for herself, she only very occasionally turns her talent to sewing for her daughter.

That meant I could break the no gifts rule and make her something, right? In lieu of gifts this canny kid had requested donations to Sea Shepherd. I'm up for that and I'll happily give them my standard amount for a kid's birthday gift. But, since I could sew her something using only fabric from the stash, that hardly counts as a gift. And no whales would be harmed in the process!

Apologies for crappy, uneven flash lighting.
A simple School Bus T-shirt in an already drafted size (size 5 with size 6 length) made for a quick sew.

I used fusible web to add my blue spotted humpback whale (image from Google) and then a triple stitch to attach him (or her) permanently.  - I did put some lightweight knit interfacing on the reverse side of the t-shirt front before stitching to help reinforce the fabric.

The blue spotted fabric is a tiny bit of a Michael Miller flannel left over from these pyjamas. Sometimes I'm glad to have my scraps buckets (other times I'm just tripping over them).

The other leftovers that went to good use this weekend was the insides of these fellas...

I gutted the pumpkins and the kids drew the faces on. P's is the one on the left and he carved it himself using the linocutting tools my parents gave him for his birthday. That was,... the birthday when he turned,... oh, about 4! Needless to say this was the first time he used them and yes, he did manage to cut himself.

A's pumpkin on the right was a much more elaborate drawing and was perfectly brought to life by my brother in law who was visiting. He is a known talent when it comes to creating models and looked very comfortable seated at the breakfast bar with a linocutting tool in hand and a beer by his elbow.

While we waited for our take away pizza I "whipped up" a pumpkin cake, and in a complete break from normal blogging style I'm going to go all Nigella Lawson on you and share a recipe (but not a line of coke, sorry!)

It makes a huge cake, but the photographer was too busy eating to take any pictures.

Pumpkin cake

2 cups honey
1 cup oil
2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin
4 eggs lightly beaten
3 cups wholewheat flour
2 tbsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp almond essence
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (eg walnuts)
1 cup raisins

Mix it.
Bake it. 350F/170C (or in my incinerator oven about 150C) for about 50 mins
I've used 2 square tins approx 20cm across then put cream cheese icing in the middle and on top.
Hope everyone had a fun Halloween. I've loved seeing all the handmade costumes!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

KCW: P's turn and the final day

I did manage to limit myself to slowly sewing on some buttons and tacking up some sleeve hems today, so my Kid's Clothes Week is officially over.

Let's let P close the show:

His T-shirt is the Figgy's Banyan T in the boy's T-shirt style. I picked up the Lisette knit at Spotlight in the discount rack, and I've just today spotted the pink colourway marked down. I might have to go back for that.

A T-shirt is a t-shirt when it comes to construction, but I always like to give a pattern it's fair chance to influence how I sew, so I followed the instructions. The pattern has you attach the neckband and then close the second shoulder. That's not my favourite way of doing things as I find it hard to get that narrow neckband to match perfectly - probably cause I'm using the overlocker to sew.

The neckband is cut on the bias which I don't think makes any real difference to how it stretches and fits, but is perhaps designed for using stripes? Mine wasn't behaving all that nicely until I topstitched it down with the double needle. Now it's lovely. As an aside, if you're ever struggling with knit neckbands I would NOT recommend using the self fabric with a stable interlock like this. Reach for a good quality ribbing and you'll get a better result more easily. My other advice is usually to iron the beejezus out of it, but you saw where that got me yesterday!

The T-shirt is size 8/9 which is the largest size this pattern goes to. I thought it was looking short and boxy wile I was making it, but I'm happy with how it looks on.

I'm in a happy, happy place when it comes to pants sewing this week. I'm as delighted with these shorts as I have been with A's two pair of pants. The pattern is "shorts with rolled cuff" from Happy Homemade Vol II (also now known as Sew Chic Kids)

I was worried he'd complain they were scratchy as the fabric is a fairly lightweight linen which I picked up as a remnant from The Fabric Store. It's got that 100% linen feel which can be a bit harsh, but it also has the most lovely olive colour and a slight sheen - almost a metallic surface look. I suspect I'd bought it for me but these shorts had to be made in a khaki type colour and in linen. Natch.

Normally I'd back my sewing machine in any buttonhole challenge. Knit fabrics, thick fabrics, close to the edge of the fabric, bring it on! But the thick end of these narrow tabs that are only 1cm wide proved to be an impossible place to create a buttonhole. Fair enough, I can't fault her for finding that a bit too much of an ask. So the buttons are just stitched on.

The faux fly construction was a new technique for me and I loved the way it came together. A few more steps than when the faux fly is incorporated into the front pants piece, but the finish is great. With all the edge and topstitching this was the slowest garment of the week, but I'd make another pair straight away I'm so happy with how they look on him.

And apparently they feel great too. So good in fact, P wanted to close out the photo shoot with a few push ups (?!)

As at the end of every other KCW I'm now ready for bed and then to spend a few evenings just browsing the Project Pool and looking at everyone's wonderful creations. 'Til next time!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

KCW continues...

I've had far too many late nights this week, but when you only get to sew after dark and when there are just too many things to sew, that's how it goes. Right?!

More for A. First up the Figgy's Banyan tunic and a tale of woe and caution with regards to ironing synthetic knits...

I was planning on keeping this top simple and making it all in the flower print. I added the tiny chest pocket, which was barely visible, stitching it on with purple thread.

But then, after attaching the sleeves and neck band I must have accidentally turned up the iron settings 'cause I burnt the heck out of one shoulder.

The colour ran, the fabric lost it's elasticity and it became somewhat see through. This was not the kind of ironing mistake that would disappear with a wash. This top was toasted. :(

All was not lost, as I recalled a gorgeous tunic that Shino made (Flickr link) which I'd been meaning to copy for so long. Now was my moment!

I gathered up a couple of long strips of raw edged fabric and created a kind of rosette over the singed area. It continues across the front neckline, and so I removed the tiny pocket as it looked a bit weird.

Shino's tunic is perfection with it's solid fabric. My ruffle-y rosette is a bit lost in the print and very hard to photograph, but in real life it's lovely. I'm kind of glad I burnt the fabric as I can't imagine the top without this shoulder detail now!

The tunic would definitely look better in a double sided knit as the handkerchief corners don't look so great when the un-printed underside of the fabric shows. I made the size 4/5 and it's a touch too small around the chest. Given that the cooked fabric may fall apart over the period of one summer I'm not sweating on the lack of growing room. :)

Next up, another pair of pedal pushers from a Japanese sewing book. I was nervous about the length of these. I mean, if the shorts were calf length, where would the calf length pants end up? Well, just right is the answer and in hindsight I'm pretty certain I traced the wrong length line for my previous "shorts"

The pattern is "g" from Girl's Sweet Clothes. I made the 120cm size and this book has pattern sizes  from 100-140cm.

They're a quick, easy sew with front pockets and a simple elastic waist. The cute detail is the ribbon bows around the lower cuffs.

The ribbon is a France Duval-Stalla ribbon which I was sent as part of a lovely package from Helena (Dubhels2003) after I'd posted an outgrown dress to her. It's just what these grey pants needed to get them over the line and girl approved! Thanks Helena.

The fabric, from memory, is a shot weave quilting cotton from Spotlight. For simple pants I love the fit of these. The front rise might be a bit generous and roomy but how cute is the back?!

I need to buy some buttons tomorrow and then all that's left of my Kid's Clothes Week sewing is to sew on four buttons. I'll need to go slowly so I can take my one hour of sewing to do just that. I really can't, for the love of sleep, start something else tomorrow.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Monochrome Roundup & Swingset Skirt and Blouse

I'm here with the last of my Black and White sewing, and over on the Oliver + S blog rounding up everyone else's monochrome projects too.
Go take a look, there was some great colour-less sewing!

From the remnants of my Lisette Butterick outfit I squeezed out an outfit for A:

This is the Oliver + S Swingset blouse and skirt. I've made the skirt once before and even though it's only a size 2 she still wears it sometimes. (eep)

It's the first time I've made the blouse and since the pattern stops at size 5, which is the size I made, I was pulling the pattern out for a now or never sewing experience!

It's hard to see the details of the blouse in my version using all the same fabric, but it has a lovely curved yoke and then full skirt portion to the top. It's a great little top and even thought this is the biggest size it will fit next summer and then probably the one after that if I just add length to this same size 5 top.

The skirt, on the other hand, has just been re-released in a greatly expanded size range. It looks simple but it's a really sweet skirt pattern. Just the right amount of twirl, a neat casing and lining and the option for a little side ribbon tie. Add in that it's super quick to sew and I'm saying it's a winner!

I lined the skirt in an off white voile as I was trying to avoid using any coloured fabric for the sake of the monochrome challenge. I have lots of half and one metre cuts of cottons that will be perfect for more of these skirts.

The ribbon has already been accidentally pulled out, so I'll need to re-thread it and then secure it at the opposite side seam. I suspect the instructions suggest you do just that. Clever, huh.

So there we are. The monchrome challenge was fun and I jumped in up to my neck. Three dresses, two skirts and two blouses and I was ready for some colour. 

Pattern: Oliver + S Swingset 
Fabrics: Lightweight drill from Rathdown Fabrics (skirt) and Rayon from Spotlight (blouse)
Size: 5, no modifications

Back soon with a Kid's Clothes Week update - I'm sewing like crazy. How are you travelling?