Saturday, 20 December 2014

Julia Sweater: Pattern testing

Firstly I want to thank everyone for their comments on my last blog post. I don't know if I'll be able to make sense of what's going wrong, or work out how to fix it, but I am feeling better for all your kind words! I could get far too philosophical about the narcissism of blogging,.... suffice to say I love hearing from you, and I can't believe I enticed my own husband (aka Flipper) into his first blog comment. Yay! (oh, and if you read his comment and didn't get it - here's the link to the best scientific powerpoint presentation ever!)

The randomly drawn winner of the Oliver + S pattern is Inspinration - I've sent you a message via facebook. I am terribly behind in my own blog reading and comment leaving list, but I do always click on the names of people who visit my blog and I love seeing what you're doing.

What have I been doing? Far too much actually.

A couple of weeks ago I joined the pattern testing crowd again to test the Julia Sweater for Compagnie M.


The pattern is an adult version of the cute, dolman sleeved Julia sweater for kids. At the time of the pattern test there were a few different options for how to do the sweater; with or without collar, with button tabs, faux placket and with or without a kangaroo pocket. By the end of the pattern test it had blown out to dozens of variations. Most of which are included in the final pattern and a few others as tutorials on customisation.
 
I figured the pattern testers role is to make the pattern as designed by the pattern creator and see how it goes, so no embellishments here.
 
 
This first one is a merino rib knit with quite a lot of stretch in both directions. It worked perfectly. Since the sleeve's circumference ends up being perpendicular to the main direction of stretch, some testers were having trouble with too tight lower sleeves. Marte ended up including instructions for a split front and back panel with the sleeve parts being angled 45deg and apparently that works fine with less stretchy fabrics.
 
The collar option I sewed above ended up being ditched in favour of a wider neckline and a bigger collar. The final collar does look more balanced on an adult sized sweater.
 
To properly test the instructions I thought I'd have a go at the option with a button tab and front pocket:
 

I picked some random bits of T-shirt cotton knit and some navy ribbing. The lower sleeves are a firmer fit on this one, but they're still Ok. I found the instructions for the pocket to be somewhat lacking. I've sewn exactly this kind of pocket with the School Photo dress but that one comes with very detailed instructions, pattern markings at which to stop the seams and clear diagrams. Perhaps I made things difficult by printing the instructions in black and white, and thus the coloured photos were less clear, but I found it very confusing. Mostly the entire sweater can be made on an overlocker, but I couldn't get my head around stopping an overlocked seam mid way up the garment, so reverted to the sewing machine.
 
 

The instructions are probably no more or less than you might expect with an indie PDF pattern. I guess I've been spoiled by the likes of Oliver + S and Thread Theory.

Speaking of Thread Theory, I've just been sewing a Christmas gift for Roger (remember my dad's body double from father's day?). He wanted a cardigan just like dad's, only with pockets, and some red lining.

I've almost fulfilled his wishes. More details and hopefully modelled pictures to come after Christmas, but here's a sneak peek:


And then, as soon as I get the chance I'll be doing a bit of Thread Theory sewing for me! They've just released their first women's pattern, the Camas blouse,  as a reward for all the women who buy their patterns to sew for their blokes. Although there are blokes buying their patterns and sewing for themselves. I love this blog post and the seriously impressive pants he made.

But back to my Julia sweater (which I'm wearing right now as I type)... Flipper said it was missing one thing, so I photoshopped it in. If only I'd thought to do the hand salute too!


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Giveaway: and a request for help

Hi.

Easy for me to say, but I'm wondering if it isn't becoming increasingly difficult for you to respond.

I seem to be having some issues with Blogger and I suspect it might be affecting how you can leave comments on the blog. (or maybe you have all wandered off to look at something else, and I'm being vain and not realising it!).

Can you help me out?


I tried an HTML patch that changed the page refresh times, and I think it might have even made things worse...

Could you do me a huge favour, and spare a minute to leave a comment on today's blog post. Make sure to include the internet browser you're using (or tablet/phone etc) and which ID you're signed in as. In the example above I'm at home, so it's Internet Explorer (IE) and I use my Google ID.

Now, in case it doesn't post, be sure to highlight and copy what you've written. If, or when, it fails to post you can paste the same content into an email. Either click on the mail icon at the top of the blog, or send it to lightningmcstitch at gmail dot com


As a bit of an incentive, I'll give away an awesome paper Oliver + S pattern to one person who leaves  a comment. Whether it arrives by email or on the blog I don't mind. It's your effort that's being rewarded, not the success of the comment posting!

The pattern is the beautiful Hide and Seek dress which I recently made here. It's size 6m to 4 years, uncut and as new. Happy to post to anywhere.

Can't think of anything to say, well, everyone has a haircut story, right?


Only a week after having her hair trimmed into the nice, angled bob that she's been sporting for a while, A decided that she and her toy koala needed a bit more off. She hacked at the front part of the bob (and koala's fluffy ears) and so I saw my chance to whiz her back to the hairdresser and get the short, Mia Farrow cut that I've been thinking would be super cute.


When I was her age I had a very similar haircut and she's sold on the idea of looking just like mummy. Before it grows out, I want to recreate a dress I had at the time and play along with the When We Were Young series

I eventually grew my hair quite long, and so here's my hairdressing horror story:

With my long hair ready for a new style I went to see my uncle's family who were all hairdressers. I won't say exactly how old I was, but you might guess the era anyway...

I pointed to a picture on the wall and requested the haircut to be just like that one. The picture probably looked like this:


My cousin set to work, snipping and trimming. I became a bit concerned at how this was going to eventuate into the style I wanted, but I didn't say anything, as he was the hairdresser and I presumed it would work out at the end.

Eventually he put his scissors down and reached for the mirror. That was when I realised he'd finished. That was it. He looked quite proud of himself as he showed me the sides and back. I burst into unexplained tears.

The picture next to Farrah Fawcett looked a lot like this one...


He'd done a perfect job of it, it's just that, not only was it not the haircut I wanted, I didn't even look like that model.

I looked more like Adam Rich (aka the chubby kid from Eight is Enough):


I'll draw the winner of the pattern in about 7 days. Thanks for your help. As much as I use the blog as my own record of what I've done, I really enjoy hearing from you, and I know how infuriating it can be when a blog comment fails to post.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A pattern mash polo shirt

Why buy new patterns when you can combine a couple of good ones to get exactly what you want (and with no risk of dud sleeves to boot)?!

 
So, I wanted to make a classic polo shirt for P. I had just finished making his Spirograph shirt using the Oliver + S Sketchbook pattern and knew that it fit perfectly and the pattern pieces were still lying around. All I needed was a placket...

Enter the Oliver + S Jump Rope dress pattern. I've made this dress pattern four times now and it's just lovely. The placket instructions are very easy to follow but somehow leave you feeling like you're the genius for sewing such a great looking placket. Of course, this is my contribution to the Oliver + S blog for this month. You can see a bit more by clicking on the link in the image below:


Or just hang around here for more pictures of P!


The fabric for the polo came from Eliza fabrics in Sunshine and I think cost about $5. The collar and placket are leftovers from A's Moschino / Kill Bill suit. As an aside, I had a kid's wardrobe clean out recently and bagged up or gifted quite a lot of handmades. But the Moschino suit is still in the wardrobe. It's a bit short in the sleeves and legs, and so it's no use to us anymore, but I really don't know whether anyone is going to want a hand me down cream suit for a three year old. It's a bit strange, no?


Back to the polo shirt. In my efforts to match stripes, I thought it was correct to align the notches on the sleeve and the notches in the armhole at the same point on the stripe pattern. Obviously not. Is there a trick to getting the sleeve stripes lined up so that they appear to be a continual horizontal stripe with the shirt body?

I'd like to get it right as I have some striped fabric to make myself a Skippy dress, and there'll probably be enough leftover for another polo shirt like this one for P.


But before I tackle anything that requires thought I need a nice, foolproof project. My first attempt at pants for myself ended disastrously and I'm feeling a bit dejected. Somewhere along the way I mucked up such that my pants were about 3" smaller than the waistband. I thought they fit ok, so just chopped the waistband down to fit the pants. So very wrong! (about 3 inches wrong in fact). I don't even have the energy to go back over them to find out where I went wrong. Perhaps next year! :)

Part of my disappointment is that I had mentally planned a very funny, multi location photoshoot for these pants. I'm going to have to revisit the pattern if only for that reason!

I'm not all gloom though. In happier news, I raced my mountain bike a couple of weeks ago and had a win (lack of fitness cancelled out by lack of competition :) ) as well as beating the kids on the train this year. In tragic I-may-never-beat-my-kids-in-another-race-ever-again style I stood on the train platform with my bike over my head as the train pulled in. I may even have thumped my chest or pointed at the kids,...perhaps.

And then, as I gritted my teeth and listened to the dreadful grating noise of my thrice serviced Janome, I received an email saying I'd won a Toyota sewing machine. I didn't even know I was in a competition to win one, but apparently, by having entered the Show I had entered a lucky door prize as well. Bonus!

So the terrible, no good, too small pants were at least sewn on a machine that sounded sweetly happy to be in service.

If you want to see how to make a polo shirt from a girl's dress and a boy's shirt pattern. hop over to the Oliver + S blog. Or if you're curious to see what it looks like when mountain bikers take on a steam train, there are pictures of last year's race here.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Neptune Tee

Taking pictures and recording my sewing here has taken a bit of a backseat lately as I have been busy.... Sewing, of course.

I finally managed to get some pictures of a T-shirt that I've been wearing quite a bit since making it one evening last week. The Neptune Tee by See Kate Sew


It's getting a bit boring with the old stand in front of the only blank wall in the house modelling style, but unless I wait months for nice weather and a photographer that's the only way I can document what I've made.

There's so much to love about this pattern, and one big glaring problem that I'll come to in a bit. Essentially it's a basic T-shirt with some neat instructions for creating these V shaped cut outs at the neckline and/or sleeve cuffs.


Initially I'd planned to put a little bit of Liberty fabric behind the cut outs, but then I figured I needed more go-with-everything T-shirts and any patterned inserts would, in my head at least, immediately make it a patterned T-shirt.

I made a straight size L in cotton interlock. There are options for a curved or straight hem (mine's the curved obviously), and as you can see above it's a slight hi-lo hem as well. I love the length, the neckline, the slight A line T-shirt shape, the cut outs... but I am really disappointed with the sleeve/armscye.


It's hard to see on my all black version but there's a whole heap of twisting in the sleeve and it's like Coco all over again for me. The armscye is not quite deep enough and I absolutely concede that's probably due to my flabby arms, but looking at the pictures on the See Kate Sew site and any blogged Neptunes I could find (only the Pattern Anthology tour, hence all complimentary) everybody has this icky twisting effect. The best photos are those where the wearer of the T-shirt is sticking their arms out, or has a hand on a hip.

Oh well, I can do that too. Here, this looks better....


The sleeve is cut on the fold, and with the exception of the awesome Flashback Skinny T (which is for kids after all!) I just don't think that works. I really should find the time to lay this sleeve pattern, and the Coco sleeve out next to the Metro T-shirt sleeve (armhole perfection!) and see where the difference lies.

Now, I'm sure if I'd done my homework I might have spotted the sleeve issue and shied away. Perhaps I should have consulted Get Off My Internets again ({waving} apparently they find you if you invoke their name!) In fact, what I want to do is trace the Metro T armscye into this pattern, 'cause I do love the T-shirt shape and I definitely want to make another, just without the dud sleeve/armscye.

Back to the good stuff.... Since I print out my instructions and work from the hard copy I really appreciate well written instructions and line drawings rather than photos for indie patterns. The Neptune Tee has excellent illustrated instructions and is a very well presented PDF pattern.


In summary, it's good, and I'm glad I made it. It will get worn. It's not perfect, but the V cut outs, the great instructions and the T shirt shape make it a pattern worth having. It's just that it could be so much better. When I get time I hope I'll revisit it and make it a pattern I can really love.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Hide and Seek

A couple of months ago I cleaned out my wardrobe of clothes that didn't fit anymore. Some things that I couldn't bear to part with went into storage, some to the recycle shop and some fabrics were set aside, destined to be upcycled into something for the kids.


The Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress is perfect for showing off a little bit of a much loved fabric. The yoke and front skirt panel is made from an old linen/silk skirt with beigey-gold birds of paradise printed on it.


I was inspired by this beautiful version of the Cinema dress sewn by Sarvi. The Cinema dress is an adult version of the Hide and Seek dress, and given that I have that pattern (although not yet sewn) there are more opportunities for accidental, awkward matching outfits in the future!

I wish I had remembered to leave out the V notch in the neckline as Sarvi did with hers. The upcycled fabric is a bit too soft to neatly hold the crisp corners that would make the V look good. Still I wanted to sew this one exactly as per the instructions since it was my first time. There will be others and I will tinker, that much is certain!


As with all the Oliver + S patterns, this is a dress pattern that seems simple but surprises with it's detail and subtle shaping. Those welt pockets are just gorgeous and the bodice and side panels create a really lovely shape. I haven't measured either of the kids for a while, but my pick of a size 3 with size 4 length seems perfect.


I had taken some buttons off a cardigan my mother in law had knitted for A and replaced them with some slightly bigger ones so they didn't pop open all the time. The little buttons, of which there were three, were just perfect for this dress.

The main fabric is some leftovers after having cut a pair of trousers for me. Yep, you read right, I'm going to tackle the terrifying territory of trouser sewing! The fabric was super cheap and is a very light weight stretch chambray. I think that browny green colour is great, but I wasn't expecting it to appeal to my three year old daughter at all...


In fact, as I finished it I was both delighted with the pattern and the sewing but also wondering if I had out-beiged even myself. Was it going to be consigned to the growing pile of dresses that she refuses to wear but I'm still glad I made? Is it just too drab?....

But once I saw it on A, I was completely in love with it all over again. With the apron effect at the front, it puts me in mind of what Cinderella might have been wearing before the fairy godmother turned her all chintzy and over the top.


Since she takes the three year old's mandate of being infuriatingly unpredictable quite seriously, she's surprised me by seeming to genuinely really like this one. I just shrug and am grateful.

And our beautiful, beige Cinderella did get to ride in a golden carriage when we went to the NGV to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. More on that another day (I may have been a little bit inspired!)...

Golden Mirror Carousel : Carsten HOLLER

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Skort in Nani Iro double gauze: gift that keeps on giving

At my recent French class lunch party a friend commented on the skort that A was wearing and asked if I took commissions...

I don't think I actually answered. The answer, for the record, is sometimes: If it suits me, if I'm interested in what it is that needs to be made, if I don't have that much else on, if I think you'll be sufficiently appreciative (not fawning, just quietly delighted will do)....

 
The idea did really appeal, and so it happened. The pattern is skort "i" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki
I had made the size 90cm for A last summer and it still fits quite well. I figured the size 130cm should be plenty big enough for my friend's eight year old daughter.
 
 
Here's A's version made up in some lovely gauze with embroidered spots. The skort has had plenty of wear but I think the photo below might be the only time the white After School blouse was ever worn.
 
 
My friend liked the pattern but was also quite taken with the lightness of the fabric, so I knew exactly what I had at home that I should use for her daughter's version.

My first ever piece of Nani Iro double gauze. (Naomi Ito's Herringbone Pencil in Ocean to be exact) It seemed perfect that this fabric should be sewn into a gift, as it was given to me as a gift.

Here's a rundown of how it came to be: This beautiful dress was offered up to a new home and I pounced. To keep the karma flowing I offered up some of A's dresses that no longer fit. I posted off a few parcels and back came some gift vouchers to cover postage costs, or return parcel envelopes, and even this 1 metre cut of exquisite fabric. Thanks Wagyu Burger, I love it!



The fabric had been cut a bit off grain and with the border stripe it was going to be a tricky challenge to get the pattern cut out nicely. I was pleased that I managed to use both selvedge border prints at the same height within the pattern. It's a bit weird that it happens to be exactly crotch height but there you go, win some, lose some.

The only change I couldn't avoid making was to cut the overskirt about 1 inch narrower than it should have been, but there's still plenty of gathers such that I really don't think it's noticeable.

In using a the last bit of fabric for the waistband I thought why not make a feature of the selvedge and so there is a "label" at the centre back waist!


I didn't take a picture of this part, but the pattern suggests making a little window in the waistband so that the elastic can be pulled through the hole and adjusted for length. I love that. Better than buttonhole elastic, which always rolls in my experience, and safer than guessing at a waist size and potentially getting it wrong.

By sheer luck, when I put my waistband join/opening at one side seam the selvedge label lined up perfectly at the back. Nice!


Apart from the skirt width, the other changes I made were minor ones to sewing technique. I flat felled the crotch seam for extra strength and then enclosed the waistband seam allowances for a cleaner finish.

To check the fit on an almost the same size kid, and for a bit of a laugh, I called in my best model. He was pretty reluctant and insisted on no face shots, fair enough, I only wanted to check that it would be the right size.
 

But still, he busted some moves and then fell so in love with the fabric he could have happily kept wearing the skort all day! I hope my friend's daughter feels the same way.



Friday, 14 November 2014

Lotta Skirt by Compagnie M. - Part 2


Although I was officially pattern testing the size 4 girl's Lotta skirt, Marte from Compagnie M. sent out the Teens/Women's skirt pattern as well. How could I resist?....


I didn't manage to get this done in time to submit any comments or concerns for the pattern test, so I was initially a bit apprehensive about blogging about it, but when I received the final copy of the pattern, every single one of my concerns had been addressed and rectified. Good job pattern testers and Marte!


While it looks just like an upsized version of the Lotta skirt I sewed for A, it's not quite; Firstly, the skirt is not nearly as full - after all, a grown up sized backside does not look so cute with a super ruffled skirt! The waistband is wide and flat and there are good tips on getting the right waistband size, such that the grown up skirt doesn't have the buttonhole elastic of the kid's skirt. Finally, the adult Lotta Skirt comes with additional instructions for an optional lining (two big thumbs up for that!)

Other than that, this is the perfect skirt if you're into a bit of matching with your kid! For the record I am not, and given that A and I now have the same skirt pattern and a few of her dresses have been made from my leftover fabrics, I'm having to be very careful each morning!


I chose the size 44 based on my waist measurement and it's a bit too big. I like it sitting fairly low, but it's a bit too low, such that the shaped waistband is inclined to stand out a bit at the top. For this skirt I had stocked up on buttonhole elastic and dutifully inserted some. But of course, 1 inch wide elastic in the middle of a 3 inch wide waistband looks pretty dreadful, so the elastic is left loose. In the final pattern there are good suggestions about choosing your waistband size from a skirt you already wear and love and the idea of buttonhole elastic for grown ups has been done away with altogether. Good call Compagnie M.!

I used some cotton drill that I had in the stash that has a slight silver sheen to it and which is impossible to iron to be completely crease-free. So, given that it hangs low and loose, it feels so easy to wear and I slouch around with my hands in those awesome pockets all day, I'm declaring this to be the perfect weekend skirt!


It's a fairly quick, easy sew. I made this on Saturday evening, and with my new invisible zipper foot, I'm happy to say the zipper is perfect (but I forgot to take a backside picture to prove it). I wore it on Sunday to a seaside lunch with my Wednesday night French class, and so by the end of the day I was rumpled and untucked as in the above picture.

I may perhaps have had a few glasses of wine over lunch, and possibly fallen asleep in the passenger seat of the car on the way home, so this photoshoot was even more unpolished than usual (ha!) and there really aren't any head shots that don't have that winning combination of sun exposure, wine and sleep! You're not seeing my face today, but believe me, I really am happy with my Lotta skirt!

To see more gorgeous Lotta skirts, modelled by people who brush their hair before a photoshoot, check out the Compagnie M. pattern tour