Wednesday, 23 July 2014

KCW: Mid week report

Kid's Clothes Week: I am having such fun sewing. I've done what I always do and become carried away with projects. It will take until the end of the week before I come up for air and get to see what everyone else has made.

First up, I made a simple turtleneck sweater for A.

The fabric is a gorgeously soft merino fleece that I bought at the recent sale at The Fabric Store. While I was shopping there I bumped into Jorth and Nikkishell of Handmaker's Factory fame! Of course it was the one day of the week that I wasn't wearing my Carnaby Cape. I think that would have been one of very few opportunities to meet a pattern designer while wearing their pattern. Rats.

And, of course, the cream merino fleece that was exactly what I wanted was one of the few fabrics that wasn't on sale. Never fear, they were carrying plenty of bags and I was about to fill mine, so it was a very happy shopping experience and rendezvous for all!

Google images came to the rescue with an image of a red deer. I added those dodgy looking hooves myself with as every deer photo that was posed well had the deer standing either in long grass or in snow. Those critters sure don't show their feet off!

I packed my lovely Noodlehead pouch (thanks Suzy!) and headed into town for a lesson in how to sew beads.

In a beautiful building in town, (The Nicholas Building) is a shop I'm embarrassed to admit I'd never been into before: Maria's Beads and Trims. Here I found jar after jar after jar of the most perfect beads. Even better, I found a very helpful Mary, who was interested in my project and perhaps quite bemused by this very enthusiastic, complete novice who'd wandered in off the street. She invited me to come back to be shown how to sew beads. And so yesterday I did.

Every year when Le Tour comes around I seem to unconsciously pick some involved hand sewing project, and it just works perfectly! If you can't ride in France, then sit on the couch and sew, and dream about riding in France.

I've been making steady progress, and am well beyond this last progress photo...

However, I hadn't been home long past my sewing lesson, when I managed to snap the only beading needle I'd bought. So the beading project was laid aside for a while and I hit the machines.

I had previously bought a remnant of the same gorgeous merino fleece in a deep red colour, so I figured it was time to make the Issey Miyake inspired peplum top:

Keen to try another kid's T-shirt pattern I printed off the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt. I chose the size 3, then, for no real reason, added 3/4" to the sleeve length. Then I lopped of about 4" from the bottom and drafted a pattern piece for a peplum. The Oliver + S tutorial site suggested 150-200% the width of the t-shirt. I went for 175% and it was just the right amount of gathered!

I didn't have ribbing of the right colour for the neck, so I did a bound neck finish using the same wool. Before I'd done that it was clear that the wool had a bit less stretch than would be required and the neckhole looked mighty small. I deepened it at the front by about 3/4" tapering that to the shoulders. Then tried to finish it without losing any stretch. It was ludicrously difficult to get on (and off again at the end of the day) so I'll have to go back another day and chop off the binding, making the neckhole bigger and then bind it again.

I bought a new beading needle, and a bag of necklace beads hoping I could keep A entertained while I did some more beading....

She concentrated fiercely, but did end up pricking herself with the darning needle, threw a wobbly and I had to finish her necklace for her after all.

And then we picked up P from school and he drew a vampire which is going to go on a T-shirt. He drew with a transfer pencil and then I ironed the image onto the fabric. Now I've painted over it with puff paint (he couldn't have all the fun!) and once it's dry I'll sew up his School Bus t-shirt.

And the cream turtleneck sweater got it's buttons and buttonholes, and there's one more garment in the works.
How's your KCW going? You don't have to answer til Sunday as I may not resurface again until then either. Happy sewing!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Pants to the rescue and KCW inspiration: lots of paint

I received an SOS from a friend during the recent school holidays. Her son needed new pants, and she was finding it increasingly difficult to find trousers he would wear. After witnessing firsthand the meltdown that getting dressed in the morning was resulting in, I offered to make him some new trousers.

After trying on a few pairs of P's pants, it was the pattern mash pants that he liked the fit of best.

These pants were the prototype for my Kenzo jeans. It's a mash-up of the Oliver + S Field Trip cargos on the front with the Oliver + S After School pants on the back. My own addition was the split front with the extra panel at the inside leg.

Having picked the pattern we talked fabrics, pockets, fit etc etc. Then I took P and his friend to the fabric shop. I had no further instruction from my friend, other than that she always liked what my kids were wearing, and she just wanted pants her son would wear happily. So, his choice of fabric....
The first thing he found that he liked was a bright red, tie-die linen cotton mix. I was initially aghast but then thought, that really could work, and he's the kind of kid who could wear pants like that.
I had bought a red button, but the pants were looking pretty out-there so I opted instead for a brass jeans button and some iron-on faux rivets for the pocket detail. The linen/cotton blend was lovely to sew and I think these will prove to be very comfortable pants. Not my usual style (?!) but I grew to really like them as I was sewing along.
At the fabric shop, with the kid holding tightly to this bolt of red tie-die fabric, I steered him towards the plain cotton drill to choose some fabric for a second pair which, I suggested, might be a bit less exciting. He pointed to a canary yellow and then I had to put my foot down. Sorry, I said, that will hurt my eyes too much to sew.
But I pointed out that P was wearing pants with yellow topstitching and he could have yellow stitching, just not yellow fabric. Choose another one, said I, willing him to pick the dark grey, or maybe navy. He settled on a dark green.
Well, my only instruction had been to make pants the kid would wear... And, should he be invited to march alongside the athletes at the next Commonwealth games he would have the perfect pair of pants to do it in!

The green and gold is a bit hard to take, and his mum was somewhat horrified by these ones as her school uniform had been this alarming colour combination. Bad memories for mum, but happy pants for her son.

Her shock at the green and gold did mean that in comparison she was more accepting of the red tie-die, so that was a win! The good news is that the recipient of the two pair of trousers loves them both. he gets up in the morning and happily puts on whichever pair is in the wardrobe. McStitch to the rescue!
On to what is happening next... There's only a day and a half until Kid's Clothes Week kicks off. The blog has been alive with giveaways, I'm planning to dive into the world of instagram and hashtags (#kidsclothesweek for those who know how to use it) to cheer everyone along. But I'll also be sewing (and beading - aaaargh!) like a woman possessed. Are you signed up yet?
In keeping with the theme of Kid Art, I made a round up of all the things I've made thus far that have involved fabric paint. I love paint,.
No paint for me this week, but I'll be going with my inspirations from visiting the NGV with the kids a few weeks ago. I may well have been a bit overly ambitious with my plans..... again. :)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Carnaby Cape by Handmaker's Factory

I'm breaking all the rules here and putting something on the blog not in the order that it was sewn. Naughty, huh?! But you know, I'm am so delighted with this one, I'm going crazy wanting to share it.

And, for maybe the first time ever, I've sewn a new pattern that hasn't already been sewn by every other blogger you read. That's only an anomaly of the seasons, trust me, by the time the Northern Hemisphere winter rolls around this cape should be everywhere!

The Handmaker's Factory is a place online to share what you've made and be inspired by others. In the real world, they run some great looking classes in all manner of crafty endeavours. During school holidays they've run craft sessions for kids and parents, and while I've never found the time to join in, I could happily attend every session they offer!

Handmaker's Factory - sew, knit, refashion and reduce your footprint

The Carnaby Cape is the Handmaker's Factory's first pattern and I was lucky enough to score one when Nichola celebrated her birthday on the blog and gave a copy away.

The pattern comes as a PDF which, while it takes a few pages, comes together very easily. I printed off my pattern and stuck it together and then, perfectly timed, Blogless Anna's version popped into my Bloglovin feed.

That was also the moment that I realised the cape would be unlined. Obviously that's not really a problem, the type of wool you use won't fray and the cape can be hemmed if needs be. Anna's looked lovely after all. But I am such a fussy bitch I was really worried I'd end up with another very-nice-but-can't-take-it-off-in-public disaster.

I had set off to Rathdowne Remnants to hunt down some wool. I knew I wanted a darker colour without an obvious pattern, so it would be different from my Liesl + Co Woodland Stroll cape. I also thought I wanted something with a bit of texture, or a very fine pattern to keep it interesting. Oh and I wanted it to be cheap cause I am a fussy bitch after all and I wasn't sure I'd end up liking what I made.

I found exactly the right length (yay) of this wool coating in the remnant bin. It's dark brown (double yay) and has these tiny pale hairs flecking it. There was a fade line on one side, so the 2m piece cost me $15. Score!! I didn't deserve such luck, but I paid and ran before I felt guilty and handed it on to someone else.

After washing the wool I was showing it to Flipper and pointing out to him how the flecks of greyish white hairs added interest (he still managed to seem disinterested) when I realised that really, it made it look like the cat had sat on it. The potential for my lovely cape to look like a blanket that the cat had slept on, made me more determined than ever to work out how to line it.

This is not going to turn into a tutorial as I cocked it up in so many different ways. But essentially I kept the facings the same, stitched them to a copy of the cape cut from lining, finished the neckhole, made windows for the bound buttonholes and then turned it all inside out.

Sadly, not through the shoulder seam that I'd left unstitched. Nor through the partial opening that I then made in the periphery. No, if you want to turn a donut shape inside out then it has to be either the entire centre circle, or the entire outer circle that is free. Seems obvious now, doesn't it?! The neck was already topstitched and buttonholed so it had to be the periphery. Probably the most unpicking I've ever done, and I'd just snapped my stitch cutter using it to shove the thick layers under the presser foot to do the buttonholes.

I would have been swearing except that I was genuinely puzzled about how it could/should work, and also amused at how, only a few hours earlier I'd been prancing around declaring that I should be turning this into a tutorial, I'm so clever. Not.

If you follow the pattern instructions, which are very well written and nicely illustrated, and don't stray off into unchartered territory like I did, then you can feel very clever making bound buttonholes like these.
The instructions for those welts really are good. If you've never made a welt pocket or bound buttonhole before then this is a pattern that should see you safely through.
The only instruction I found lacking was a cutting layout. That's ironical cause I never look at them when they are given and always assume I can do it much better and with much less fabric. However, be warned; the belt requires a piece that is 20cm wide and almost the length of your fabric, It needs to be cut from one selvedge BEFORE you fold the fabric in half and gaily chop out part of the cape. Yep, you guessed it, my belt is pieced at the centre back in order to be the correct length.
The cape is cleverly closed with two buttons on one side of the neck opening and then the lovely, thick belt/sash, which gives it some shape and means I should never have feared the cat-blanket-thing. Nichola knows what she's doing.
I've been wearing my cape a LOT. It's easy to throw on, warm, comfy and even works well on the bicycle, and when you spread your wings, it's reminiscent of a sugar glider!
Pattern: The Carnaby Cape by Handmaker's Factory
Size: M
Fabric: Wool remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics & Remnants
Notions: 2 buttons (also from Rathdowne)
Extras and modifications: 2m lining fabric, a whole lot of head scratching and a successful lining modification. Accidental requirement to piece the belt at centre back.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge - seeing double...

or maybe triple, or more...

It's time for the July PDF scoreboard update and also to introduce you to the amazing Heidi (with love, heidi). My tally from the Flickr pool has Heidi having completed 18 of the 21 projects and there is no doubt that she has sewn more things from this book than any of the rest of us.

You see, Heidi almost never sews just one of something

I'm so happy to be able to introduce Heidi to you and show you some of her incredible sewing. Without further ado, let's hand the blogpost over to Heidi, and let her explain how and why she sews so many projects!:

Why I sew multiples

I sew to relax and create.  I have no children of my own but have 7 "nieces and nephews" over two families.  Growing up, my parents and grandfather were very conscientious with fairness. This meant that if something was given to one child, even an adult child, then all the children got something equivalent.  I appreciated this, especially as I got older, and realised that in many families this was not the case. One of the reasons I will often sew multiples is because I want to be fair to all the children within a family and sometimes between families.  One of my best examples of this is the 7 Hogwarts robes I made by modifying the Oliver + S Nature Walk pullover.  I made one for each nieces and nephews as a Christmas gift

Multiples from Little Things To Sew

I have sewn approximately 60 projects (told you she was awesome! -Ed) from 18 of the 21 projects I have completed from the book. Nine of those projects I have made more than 3 times, in fact I have made the Explorer Vest 10 times!  The Explorer Vest was the pattern that introduced me to Oliver + S.  I had been sewing a few skirts and dresses but I wanted something to make for my nephews. I had come up with the idea of an adventure type vest but I was having trouble finding a pattern. Eventually I came across an image for an Oliver + S Explorer Vest and found the book. I was wary about buying the book as I have a  number of sewing books I have made one or no items from. However, I found the Oliver + S website and downloaded the popover dress to try. Once I had made the first one I was confident that the book was worth it, even if I only used the vest pattern. I ordered the book,  from overseas, as I could not find it easily where I live.  By the time it got here I had  made 3 Popover dresses and 2 of the doll dresses! I went on to make 2 of the vests immediately for Christmas gifts. I then got a request from an older sibling for one,  so I made another one.  Eventually I decided to make 7 vests for my friends' boys when I returned to my home state on a visit.  The Explorer Vest is my go to sewn gift for boys.  It is lovely to sew, has amazing detail and all of them have been very well received!
Flickr: with love, heidi

I like to sew things in  2s and 3s

flickr: with love, heidi
The first time sewing a pattern I sew it through, reading throughly, putting it together just so and generally seeing how it comes together.  By the time I finish the first one I am often very inspired by the finished product and proceed to straight away make another one!  Often I will make small changes in the construction order or have a new fabric combination that I want to try out while the pattern is fresh in my head. Sometimes I'm ready to move on after two but other times I want to make just one more! Although I have realised that by the end of the third I will often be very ready to sew something else. Sometimes I sew more than just the 2 or 3 items because I have set myself a goal, usually to have presents done, it was definitely like this for the Hogwarts Robes!   So two to three items are my ideal number of consecutive repeats.

Sew one item at a time

I sew one item at a time,  even if I'm making 5 or 7 of them. Some people prefer to sew multiple items as a production line,  doing the same step on two or more items at the same time.  I prefer to sew up one whole garment at a time and then move on to the next one, even if the next one is the same as the one before. I get a lot of satisfaction from a finished garment and sometimes want to make small changes in my process. Making one garment at a time gives me double the positive feedback  at the end of each garment/item. If I sew three individual things to completion I get three lots of positive feedback :) Where as if I sew production line style I only get one episode of positive feedback for 3 garments! (how clever of you! -Ed)

Sew each project from start to the finish

A while ago I realised I had a number of unfinished projects hanging around.  They often only needed a zip,  buttons or a hem before they were finished and usable. From that moment I decided I needed to work on one garment/item at a time and fully complete it before starting another.  I have found this system works very well for me. Even if I am planning on sewing multiple versions of the same item/pattern I can finish one, then take a detour onto something else and then come back to the pattern I've decided to make again.  I found this worked extremely well for the Elsa bolero/shrugs I recently made.  I made the first to see if it would work, stopped and made a skirt for a gift,  made 3 more boleros, stopped and made two pairs of baby carrier strap covers for another gift and then finally made the 5th bolero.  I think stopping and breaking the multiple sewing up has left me with continued enthusiasm for the pattern as I wouldn't mind making another,  would A like one? (Oh my goodness! She would adore anything princess-y but is blissfully ignorant of Frozen. It's my 6 year old son who's seen the Let It Go song clip and is infatuated with all things Elsa!! -Ed)

  I only have 3 items to go in the LTTS challenge! The Bento Box Carrier, the Puppet theater and the Quilt. (Can I suggest no more than two puppet theatres (1 for each side of the family), one quilt for a new baby outside the family, and Bento Box carriers for everyone! That's only 10 projects in total! -Ed)

....and she's got about six weeks to get them finished to complete the sew along challenge. I'm sure she can do it!

I hope you enjoyed that interview. I found it fascinating as in my imagination, she had 3 or more machines set up: one for sewing, one for topstitching, one for finishing seam allowances, and in the background was a husband at the ironing board making metres and metres of bias binding! Turns out it's just Heidi, doing it neatly, one step at a time. Best "aunty" ever!!!

Heidi has also kindly put together a Flickr set showing the construction of the No Tie Scarf, which I found to be one of the most baffling things so far in the Little Things To Sew Book. Click here for No Tie Scarf photo tutorial. Thanks Heidi.

Here's the July updated PDF scoreboard.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sandbox pants for school

One of the things I was looking forward to, as my children started school, would be the end of sand in their pockets! I swear if I had bought an empty sandpit the day they first started in childcare I could have filled it at least once by now. As it is, we don't have a sandpit at home, but we get sand in the washing machine, sand in the shoe tubs, sand on the bathroom floor....

Obviously a sewing pattern called Sandbox pants which had pockets made no sense to me at all. But when I found a paper copy of this out of print Oliver + S pattern I had to have it.

I had also passed this one over as it seemed a bit simple. But, like all Oliver + S patterns, the delight is in the detail. The finish of these pants with their patch pockets on the front, buttoned down back pockets and drawstring waist, is fantastic.

I guess another thing that put me off the pants previously is the hard to resist temptation to use a novelty quilting cotton for the patch pockets. That makes a cute pair of toddler pants but just isn't my style. So here I was, using a pattern that I thought was going to be dull, with some plain navy terry knit, in order to make some school pants for winter. And you know, I was really enjoying myself.

To make it even more interesting I decided to do flat felled seams everywhere. I've learned not to cut big notches in seam allowances and then try to do flat felled seams, but I think with thick fabric like this it would pay to even cut them with an increased seam allowance. They looked perfect when first sewn, but after a few washes there are spots where I didn't quite catch the folded under top seam allowance properly. Still, check out the insides:

After flat felling the outer leg seam it was a bit of a challenge to do the inner leg seam as well. I hadn't thought it through very well and it was only as I was sewing down into the thick, fluffy tunnel of the leg that I realised what was happening. It was slow going but oh so satisfying, and I may have shown my husband more than once how neat they look on the inside.

I now can't recommend the pattern highly enough!

Since P only has one long sleeved school polo and one official school bomber jacket, he desperately needed some pullovers. I tried my Flashback Skinny T hack that I used for his Kenzo jumper again and made two pullovers in school red.

This is a size 9/10 in width, with the neckline of the size 6 and size 6 length for sleeves and hem. I also did a bit of an armhole hack to try and deepen the armhole, and it works fine, but I think I'm asking the wrong question of this pattern. It's a fantastic skinny T pattern, it's not meant to be enlarged to a blouson style pullover. I just can't bring myself to buy a pattern this simple, I'll keep trying....

The pants have been an absolute favourite. Although, since P can't yet tie a bow himself, I might make the next pair without the drawstring. I scored some more of the heavy, navy terry knit for a second pair, as well as some navy moleskin for a pair of Field Trip cargo pants and the last of the navy twill for a pair of Figgy's Banyan pants. I hope I'll find some interesting sewing in that pile.

Notably, the Banyan pants will be my first ever zipper fly. Isn't it funny when you read someone's blog and think, "have they really never done {insert thing you do yourself all the time} yet?".

... Oh, and you know what?... P's school has a sandpit!  Aaaarrrrggh!!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Merino and Tonic

Nope, it's not a cocktail for a thirsty sheep farmer, but the recipe for the perfect winter basics for me!

Do you remember I made the free downloadable, Tonic 2 by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick? It was here in my "I'm so fussy" blogpost.

For that one I made shorter 3/4 sleeves 'cause that was all the fabric I had in that super cheap, knock out a trial run, orange stuff. It never occurred to me that sleeve length may be an important aspect of making a muslin. (you can see where this is going right?)

For my next one(s) what I did do was split the pattern vertically on each side and add a 6mm in width so that the shoulder was truly at my shoulders rather than being a bit narrow as above.

Then I decided, seeing as it was winter, I would have a few of them in merino, and perhaps I should raise the neckline about 4cm at the front and add a turtleneck....

I simply ran a tape measure around my new neckline, then cut a rectangle that was the same length as the neckline and twice the height I wanted my neckband to be. The SBCC pattern has you cut the narrow neckband on the bias. I figured that wasn't really necessary so the big neckband is cut on the same grain as the rest of the top, sewn into a loop then serged on and the seam stitched down.

But eeeek, the sleeves were so short! Even unhemmed they were a good four centimetres too short. I decided a cuff would suit the neckband so I cut a cuff that was as thick as I thought I could get away with and attached the cuff the same way as the neckband.

For the next one I added 5 cm to the sleeve length and left the neckline as per the original pattern

It looks like the sleeves are OK here, but when I do stuff (which, as much as I wish I could avoid it, is what I spend my days doing) they ride up a bit and still seem to short.

I'd already cut this third one with only 3cm added to the sleeve as I was planning cuffs again.

The neckband on this one was a bit lower as I didn't have as much of this fabric as the others. In fact , this fabric was pilfered from the kids sewing stash, whereas the other two has been purchased with sewing for me in mind. Once I started on my selfish-merino-base-layer-sewing ride there was no getting off!

There was another bit of stashed, not-meant-for-me merino that was large enough for another one:

This time I had the 5cm extra sleeve length AND I added a small cuff. Finally, a happy sleeve length. I must have monkey arms as I've decided I need about 8cm extra length in the sleeves. However the top length is straight from the pattern (size L) and is perfect. The pattern comes in two size groupings; XXS-L and XL-3X, and considering it's a free pattern you don't even have to choose. There must be a size there for everyone, surely.

Apologies for the dreadful photos. I have a terrible headcold, am exceedingly grouchy and kept getting distracted by kids. Almost every face was a sour one today. Still, I've been wearing these four tops almost non stop since I made them and just getting them all photographed and on the blog seemed important. It's the everyday basics that really make you feel like you know what you're doing, right?!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The local shopping strip.....

When a pattern comes with a warning that "you might get carried away" it would be wise to take heed of the warning. Especially if the project you're starting is for a birthday present and you're just three days out from the birthday party.
But for me, fusible web has this enchanting effect, and I just can't help myself.....
The West side
My work colleague's baby is turning one and what better excuse than to sew another project from the Little Things To Sew book . I decided to make the veterinary clinic where we work and some of the other buildings and shops in our local strip.
The East side
OK, so a wine store may not be an appropriate playtown block for a one year old but he can't read and I know it was one of the shops that couldn't have been left out for his parent's sake.
I haven't a clue what the real meanings of the inscriptions on the church across the street are, but I hit up google translate for a Russian alphabet version of the baby's name to handstitch onto the church front. And in doing so I apologise to any Macedonian church going blog readers who recognise the church and are thinking Што кур??  (that's WTF? according to google :) ) I tried his name in Macedonian first, I promise, but it looked exactly the same as English!
While I'm apologising, that tree appliqued on the side is where we take dogs for a walk if we need a wee sample!

I had to take a bit of licence with the arrangement of signs and logos as to try and fit things exactly where they should be was going to be impossible. However, I'm happy to say that the colours are all quite correct, and everything came from the scraps bucket. I even found a little dog for inside our back door. It's not easy to see but he's wearing a party hat and carrying a birthday card! 

I'm always pleasantly surprised at how nice it is to do some handsewing. I sewed my Wine Store name whilst on the train into the city and the Deadly Sins gargoyle was sewn while playing squirrels at the park with my daughter (it's amazing how "go find more nuts" can count as play when you're trying to multitask!)
Then there was a couple of late nights overworking the small zig zag stitch on the sewing machine and I was done. Just in time to take a few pictures this morning before the party this afternoon. Phew.
And that leaves me with only the Bias-Trimmed Apron and the Bear Puppet Bath Mitt left in my challenge to sew this pattern book from Cover to Cover. Have you joined in? Only 2 months to go!