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



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Lotta Skirt by Compagnie M. - Part 1

I was delighted to have been chosen to pattern test for Marte of Compagnie M. for her newly released Lotta Skirt.

 
 
The Lotta skirt is an incredibly cute, very full skirt with a flat waistband and these lovely pockets. It's all about the pocket flaps with this one, and having a little peek of some special fabric, or some really sweet buttons to pin them down.
 
I'm hardly a seasoned professional when it comes to pattern testing, but I figure the rules are this: Use fabric that's to hand, follow the instructions to the letter (even if it's not how you'd choose to do things) and find every typographical or grammatical error that can be found. Then take a few pictures to demonstrate the fit and get the feedback submitted on time.
 
Of course, when it turns out that the pattern is lovely, that just leaves you wanting to sew another in some 1st choice fabric. I've no doubt I'll make this one over, and over, and over...
 
 
These fabrics might not have been my 1st choice but they were A's, and she was sticking with them. I think she would have liked everything to be aqua (Elsa influence I suspect), but I only had scraps left from P's Travel Quilt. The main skirt fabric is some blue chambray that was gifted to me via my mother in law. It was sewn together at the corners with ribbon and I suspect it may have been a decorative table cloth of some sort.
 
 
The sewing instructions were detailed and illustrated with clear photographs. There is extra detail for how to evenly and neatly gather the front and back skirts, some nice tips for hemming, and good instructions for the invisible zipper at the back. Marte refers to her website for more detailed zipper instructions.
 
As a tester the only notations I made in the sewing instructions were those to do with language and typos. It almost seemed a shame to point them out as there was a certain charm to the translated instructions with their occasional odd Belg-lish (that's my mash-up of Belgian and English) expression.
 
 
I didn't have the best of times with my invisible zipper. I don't have (or didn't last week anyway) an invisible zipper foot, so I did borrow a few Oliver + S tricks; namely ironing the zipper open and marking the top of the zipper and the top of the skirt to keep both sides level. I'm not very happy with the top part but it was getting to the point of ridiculous to do it over again.
 
The pattern also comes with very nicely written instructions for inserting buttonholes and buttonhole elastic into each side of the back waistband. Perfect for when you try the skirt on your little one, she does that weird belly out thing kids do when instructed to stand up straight, you think it fits, then she breathes out and runs off only to have the skirt fall down. Just do up the elastic one extra buttonhole. Sorted!
 
 

There's a pattern tour going on this week, check the Compagnie M. blog for the tour links and a discount code.

You know, the Lotta skirt comes in adult sizes too, and I may just have found time to make one for me as well.....

How to Fake a Flatlock : Raglan sleeved dress

Hello, today I'm over on the Oliver + S blog showing how to use your overlocker to fake a flatlocked seam.


When I first bought my overlocker I was asking the salesman about "that stitch that you see on sportswear and swimwear that looks like overlocking on both sides". He told me that was a flatlock and required a special machine that was beyond the reach of the home sewist.


But he did mention there was a way to achieve it with a regular overlocker and I could try one day, when I'd got a handle on the basics. He then talked me down from buying the most expensive model, the one that did coverstitch as well, and I bought my basic overlocker, had a very good lesson in threading it and left the store.

That weekend I made a few pairs of pyjamas. I repeatedly pulled on the threads at the end of each seam which would result in one looper thread coming unhooked somewhere and I'd have to rethread everything. Annoying as that was I became very comfortable threading the overlocker, and yes, I am one of those people who rethread it with appropriate thread colour for every project.

 
My sewing machine was playing up recently and so it went off to the shop for a bit of maintenance, and that left just me and the overlocker, sitting there, looking at each other...
 
I figured this was the perfect time to work out that flatlock thing. I knew the Field Trip Raglan T would be the ideal pattern for it, and I knew how I wanted to get around not having a sewing machine for the hems. Back when A was a tiny baby and I was still buying some clothes for the kids I bought a great little dress by Katvig which had flatlocked raglan sleeves and a wide hem band at the bottom. I have wanted to make that dress for about two years now, ever since she outgrew the first one.
 
The first dress I made wasn't quite the right shape. I'd cut the sleeves a bit too long and the bell shape was exaggerated more than I'd intended. I love the buttercup yellow with fluoro orange stitching though, and you'll have to take my word for it that it looks really cute on.
 
 
Second one got a slight rejig of the A line shape, the sleeves were cut straight across, and the hem band didn't narrow quite as dramatically. As bad as my memory is, I think I've remade the original dress pretty well.

This is a great project if you want to get intimate with your overlocker! First up, with the flatlock settings and contrast thread you sew the shoulder seams. Then rethread with matching thread, change back to regular overlocking settings and sew the side seams, the neckband, sleeve cuffs and sew the hem band into a circle. Then back to the contrasting and flatlock settings to attach the bottom hem band.

The sewing was pretty easy. Getting modelled pictures turned out to be almost impossible. Here are the best of the ones taken just before being turned on and told off most ferociously.


briefly distracted...


about to turn and hightail it.

and now finding it hilarious to keep running away from the camera.
If you're curious to see how to fake a flatlock seam, go take a look at the Oliver + S blog. Hopefully I've made it look like a nice way to tinker with your machine.

Back here, the sewing machine has just come back from the service centre for the second time as I was convinced that it hadn't been oiled at all, and returned it for a second going over. Sadly, it still sounds completely dry and quite unhappy. When I had it serviced last year it came home smelling so strongly of oil, it purred so quietly and ran ever so smoothly. At a different service centre this year it is sounding like a bicycle chain that hasn't seen any lube for years. Not that I would know that sound, of course! ;)

I will take it back, again, and see if they can't strip it and oil it all properly. Meanwhile it'll be just me and the overlocker again....

I think P might need some summer pyjamas. Perhaps a flatlocked Raglan T with some Nature Walk shorts.

Have you tried this? If you have an overlocker, how do you get on? Is it mutual appreciation or complete intimidation?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Straw Boater Project: Cruising at a very ambitious altitude.

Tuesday of this week was Italian Day at P's school. We were told there would be Mt Vesuvius volcano experiments, drawing Michelangelo style while lying on your back under the classroom table, playing calcio, and eating; bruschetta, pasta, tiramisu and gelati....

And, of course, there was a need to dress up. I was really mindful (for about 5 minutes) of not taking over and getting over excited about my his first school costume. We talked about what P wanted to wear and searched for some images. Turned out we had almost everything we needed for a gondolier...

Everything that is except the hat. You already know what I did about that, right?!


I'd never made a straw hat before, but I figured a boater would have to be the easiest to start with. It's all right angles and I imagined I would make the three sections and then join them together. Sounded simple in my head.

I discovered Torb and Reiner and gave them a call. No, I've never done this before. No, I don't have time to drive across town for a lesson or to buy a hat block. No, I have no idea what I need or how much of it...

To her credit, Nina, who took my call, was probably not used to this kind of brazen ambition from a complete novice. But I was coming off the back of my first-ever-beading-project-blue-ribbon and in my head I could imagine what I was going to do. She packaged up 10metres of 10mm wide wheat braid and some red grosgrain ribbon and sent it to me express post for next day delivery.

Of course, I foolishly sat on it for 48 hours while finishing my Kid's Clothes Week sewing, and then began the weekend of the Straw Boater Project.


I made a cardboard "hat" for P so that I would have the correct size and the approximate depth of the crown then started stitching....

The advice that I had from Nina was that the straw braid could be brittle and I needed to wet it to shape it. The bit that I figured out for myself was that the best way to prevent those F^*%ng twisty knots in the thread was to run the lengths along a tealight candle in order to wax them. It didn't entirely prevent the knots and there was a fair bit of tugging knots through, some occasionally successful unpicking of knots, and plenty of language of which a genteel boater wearer would not approve.

I realised, perhaps a bit too late, that the lid should not be perfectly round, so started overlapping the braid at the sides more to give it an oval shape. I kept going round and round until the lid was the same size as my green cardboard hat.


The crown was probably the easiest part. Using the green hat as a size guide I pegged out the first round and then stitched until it was deep enough. While the kids rode their bikes at the skate park on Sunday, I sewed. The lid went on top and was stitched in place, at which point it looked a lot like I should be steaming dumplings in it. As an aside, this project was probably the most pleasant smelling thing I've ever sewn. I must have been a horse or a goat in another life!


By the time I was ready to start the brim it was Monday afternoon and the kids were going to swimming. In order to sew the brim without having to hold the crown, I marked the outline of the crown on paper and then pinned the braid to the markings to begin my brim. Once I had the first stitches in place it became fixed in diameter and portable. I sewed furiously while they swam. It was the best location of the weekend as a quick dunk in the pool was all the wheat braid needed to stay supple.


Finally, a very late night stint lasting well into Tuesday morning had the brim attached, the Petersham ribbon sewn in (that's the bit where I wished I owned a thimble) and the ribbon on the outside.

In what must be a glorious hatters version of a hole in one, Nina's estimate of 10m of braid was EXACTLY what was required. There was not even a centimetre to trim off and nothing was missing for lack of more straw. She obviously really knows her stuff! As she had every reason to doubt that I did, she had sent about 3m extra for free just in case. There might come a time when I've forgotten just how much work this was and end up making a miniature one for P's teddy.


Thank you so much to everyone who followed my progress on Flickr or Facebook. Your encouragement was everything to me. It was a long, long weekend and I honestly may have lost the plot if not for the "ping" of my phone telling me that someone else "got" what I was doing.

You'd be horrified if you knew this kid's history with losing school hats. His track record is appalling. I'm delighted to say, that after seeing his mum toil all weekend, he was very mindful that if the hat didn't come home, neither should he. It did. He had a great day.

Ciao!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Another Metro T Mod

This is going to be a quick-ish blog post as it's after 3am (but the hat is finished - yay!!!)

I've started a regular gig on the Oliver + S blog, doing what I love to do, which is fiddling with their patterns!

 
I made another Metro T-shirt with the keyhole modification at the back....
 
 
The front looks like any long sleeve black t-shirt (which, in my city, you simply cannot have enough of!)
 
But at the back, there's my first ever bit of Liberty of London Tana Lawn. A whole 10cm (or $5) purchase. Decadent, huh?
 


Actually, the luxurious part is that I finally bought some of the gorgeous merino fleece from The Fabric Store for myself. Seemed only fair when A had her Red Peplum and her Pixcell Deer sweater and I had none...

 
With a fabric like this, with less stretch than you'd need for a normal neckband, the keyhole is a practical necessity as well as looking kinda nice.
 
There's a tutorial over at the Oliver + S blog showing how I did it. The trickiest part was photographing a tute using black fabric when you only get to sew after dark. I didn't think about that part...
 
I'll be back soon with some photos of my straw boater. I am absolutely delighted with it! (and I really, really need to buy a thimble)