Friday, 10 April 2020

Of pets and passing the time

With not much else to do, pointless craft is now less of a hobby and more like my raison d'etre.



An explanation seems both impossible and unnecessary. After a bit of indoor training (during bad weather) our new pets were ready for their photoshoot....



They were getting along so well, it looked like they were ready for a nest, and look! Are those eggs?


I have a crazy amount of newfound respect for birds and their nest building abilities! I had perfect atmospheric conditions, two opposable thumbs, even tools and still I struggled. Respect, birds!


Details: Pattern for budgerigars and eggs from: Crochet Birds by Vanessa Mooncie
Yarn: Scheepjes Catona cotton from Bellemae Yarns
Nest: My own pattern, held together with some fine mohair yarn and Habu paper moire leftovers


If only I'd photographed the note that I found next to a budgie that was flat on it's back with its legs in the air. It said:
"I am having a power nap. I am NOT dead. If you feed me slivered almonds I will wake up and do tricks for you."
That's a bit how we all feel right now.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Belgravia Knit Dress

I'm always delighted to do a pattern test for Liesl + Co. Even when the missive arrives just before a holiday, I sign up and then drop everything else and fit it in somehow.

Just before the first of this year's cancelled holidays (remember the bushfires? they feel like years ago already) I got the chance to sew the Belgravia Knit Dress.


This is the View A: Short sleeves and shorter ties that just knot at the front.

I chose a fairly stable cotton lycra type knit out of the stash (source long since forgotten), and as I always love stripes I thought it would be fun to use a stripe and play with the angles of the bodice.


It turns out Liesl had considered adding a pattern warning NOT to use a stripe due to the bodice being cut on the bias. :) What can I say, I like a bit of danger :)

The stripe actually helped me with the pattern test, as I was so extra careful to cut it all perfectly aligned and then sew every seam with stripes matching, it was easy to see where the test pattern had a small error. My stripes matched but the lengths were wrong, ergo pattern error. In any other print I might have pinned the edges, then the notches then stretched to fit and never noticed the small discrepancy.


But I apologise if you're getting that screen stripes distortion thing and it's hurting your eyes! :)

I went with my measurements (size 10) and made it without any modifications for this first version. True to my shape I should have added torso length and given myself a bit more room through the hips compared to the bodice.


It's a quick and easy dress to sew and is as easy to wear as a T-shirt.

Way back when we were still allowed to go outdoors, I was scheduled to go bar hopping as part of my Melbourne Frocktails planning duties (tough gig but someone has to do it) and I suddenly decided I wanted the long sleeved, longer ties view B version to wear...


This time it's a cheap, slinky synthetic knit, probably a rayon but who knows. I graded out one size over the hips and added 1" of torso length to drop those ties down to my natural waist.

That little adjustment, along with the extra length ties which cross at the back and then tie at the front, makes all the difference. Magic waistline!


This dress pattern reminds me of the Vogue Vena Cava dress (which I've sewn and still love) but without the mental construction!

The whole dress can be made on a straight stitch sewing machine as I did with my striped first version. but then, once I had one run through of the construction under my belt, this one was sewn laregly on the overlocker, with the sewing machine only required for the ties and waist seam as well as hemming.


Its getting too cold for the short sleeved version, but I wore this one today and while I only saw two humans that aren't my immediate household, they both commented on  how lovely my dress was! Thanks unrelated humans. xx

Liesl just posted some fabric and styling inspiration images and I really want a dark green wool jersey version for winter. The waist ties feel a bit like an all day gentle hug and in a lovely wool it would be divine.


There's a couple of other tester's versions on the Oliver + S blog too and they're lovely! - and they obviously have nicer gardens than mine as their lockdown photos have more pleasing backgrounds :)


How are you coping with being cooped up? We've just had our second cancelled vacation of the year and I've turned into a crochet maniac. Then there was some sewing, then a bit more crochet... I've got a lot of blogging to catch up on!

Friday, 27 March 2020

short, shorts, shorts (and one pair of long pants)

When I made her a birthday dress that I was pretty sure she wouldn't wear I also made three pairs of shorts.

That was ages ago but I finally pinned her down for some photos.


The idea of shorts wasn't a surprise and we went through some pattern ideas together, but then I picked the fabrics and sewed them up in secret.

This first pair is pattern 19/20 (I can't see any difference between the two patterns, it could be one or either of those!) from this book which my translate app calls "Handmade Summer Style"


The fabric is the very last of some unicorn chambray from spotlight that had already yielded a dress and a pair of shorts.


These are simple elastic waisted super-voluminous shorts. She was keen on the shorts like a skirt idea, almost tempting me to try a pair of longer culottes again (they've always been meet with a firm no in the past).


There are patch pockets at the back and inseam pockets at the front. I pulled up my own photographed tutorial to remind myself of how to do inseam sides pockets and still get the seam allowances to lie flat. It's from a different Japanese pattern book and works really well.


These are size 150 and look like they'll fit forever! I was so afraid of her having grown out of Japanese patterns but perhaps I need not have been :)

Also from the same book is pattern 15. These ones can be made with a bib and straps like overall shorts, or just as the shorts.


These are my favourites, they're a bit big, but still have a really nice shape. The inner waistband and the legs are finished with facings, so I used a lighter weight cotton for that.


Given that the shorts are denim and heavyish, I also split the pocket piece and created a pocket facing in denim, but the main pocket bag is also shirting cotton. That way the pockets won't take forever to dry in the wash.

Not yet a problem as these ones haven't been worn...


The third pair of shorts and her favourites by far are another pair of Oliver + S Class picnic shorts.


If these look familiar it's because I used the same three coloured denims to make the same pattern last summer. The order of the fabrics is swapped about just to make use of what I had left. these are size 10, same as the recent school shorts. Hopefully they'll last longer!


As you can see, this pair have been washed and worn and washed again...


finally, a bit of a flop, but worth documenting all the same.

I tried the Eleanor jeans by Jalie. They're a fitted pull on jeans. I made these with a stretch bengaline kind of fabrics.


I've made size O according to her measurements which should have had the waist being a bit snug if anything. Turns out the waistband was too big and the rise too short so they constantly feel like they're falling down.


It's maybe not helped by them being very long in the leg and needing to be rolled up. I think they're really promising though...

I'll try and revisit them at some stage, add length to the front and back rise so they come up to her waist and then make the waistband snug enough that they feel secure. I have a few cuts of jegging denim that I'm sure she'd love if I can get the fit right.

Meanwhile I've just done a dart and tuck that has butchered the back of these ones but make them almost wearable when desperate for clean, long pants.


She also scored a birthday bag from fabric that I'd bought for her back when she was about two, but we haven't taken nice pictures of that yet.

Arguably I should be able to photograph and blog about everything since there's not much else we can do right now. But I'm a bit lacking in mojo.

What I am enjoying is crocheting a couple of budgerigars. Seriously. I think they're going to be very cute. We had a pair land in our backyard when our neighbours were packing up their aviary and  moving out. I managed to catch them and we went door knocking until we found where they'd come from. Of course by then, the kids were convinced we should keep them and when I explained we couldn't, A went and found my crochet birds book and insisted I make her a pair of budgerigars.

That's the kind of order I like!


Monday, 2 March 2020

Shirring elastic for a birthday win

I've been making a birthday dress for A pretty much since she was born and they often go down a bit like a lead balloon. I had no expectations of anything different this year, as she's really not wearing dresses.

So I went with my usual plan of making something I wanted to make. And it worked!


I'd never yet tried using shirring elastic. Which is crazy, because it suits toddler outfits so well. Anyway, we'd been seeing lots of shirred tops and dresses in shops and both agreed that it would be cool to make a shirred dress.

Then, this rayon remnant was on sale at Fabric Deluxe and the light, smooth drapey fabric with its crazy digital print was just begging to be made into a shirred summer dress.


I followed this tutorial from The Sewing Directory only varying a bit with the length and the number of rows of shirring. From memory I used their suggested size 9 width, lengthened to 90cm to make more use of the border print and did 14 rows of shirring.


I hadn't thought of how much elastic would be used and had only bought one each of a few different colours in order to decide which would look best. We decided on a bright green, but I had to go back and buy a second spool as it used almost two full spools to do this much shirring.


I wound the shirring elastic onto the bobbin by hand, but found it didn't require any extra fiddling or adjusting beyond that. I've just loaded it in, threaded the needle with a matching green regular thread and started sewing lines.

To keep the spacing even I just used the edge of the presser foot as a guide. It looks like nothing is happening for the first few rows, then it starts to really gather and scrunch up nicely. And with a bit of a steam press it suddenly looks completely pro!


Since the dress wasn't a surprise, and I was pretty sure it might not get worn, I did pull out a few all nighters and sew three pairs of shorts and a backpack as well! All of which are yet to be photographed.

But she opened her presents while a couple of friends who'd had a birthday sleepover were still around and they oohed and aahed over this dress to the extent that I think she started to quite like it herself.


And now I know of a way to make a quick dress out of a remnant of fabric that will fit pretty much any kid. So there's last minute birthday gifts for other little (appreciative) girls sorted!


Monday, 17 February 2020

V1456 not for me

Back when I was planning to sew the V1456 Sandra Betzina tunic for my mum, I figured I'd make a practice run in another fabric first.

I chose what would have been my size according to the pattern packet, and elected to make the simpler, sleeveless View B. I got as far as was necessary to know what fitting changes I needed to make to my mum's version. Then I went on to make hers. But I just hate an unfinished project so this one was sewn to completion in January.


But it's not doing it for me.

Maybe that's because I'm not a tight-pants-and-loose-tunic kind of person. I couldn't find anything to wear it with for the sake of these photos and eventually settled on the skirt just because the colour matched.


I suppose it would look nice over wide leg pants as well as skinny jeans or leggings.

I'd bought the pattern with the sole purpose of making that tunic for my mum so I shouldn't be surprised that it's not floating my boat. Yet I sort of wish it did...


It's a bit big in the bust for me, which you can see by the gaping under the arm. I'm not filling it out very well in the only place which is meant to be somewhat fitted, and so I feel a bit like I'm drowning in it.

The fabric is a nice cotton which I'd scored from another sewist who was destashing. I chose it for the muslin as I thought it would suit the pattern, but mostly because it would be so easy to work with compared to the crinkly seersucker gauze stuff of my mum's version.


I briefly toyed with the idea of throwing it in a dye bath to see if a darker colour made me like it more. but then I remembered the painfully sourced, colour matched, lightweight, double ended zip probably wouldn't take the dye and shelved that idea.

So I lent it to my mum, but she doesn't wear sleeveless things as a rule, didn't like the colour much and found it didn't fit well for all the reasons we'd changed her version. Obviously.


It was enjoyable to make and hopefully it will find a home where someone find enjoyment in wearing it. I'll post the measurement below and if it rocks your boat (even after all my doleful complaining about it's ugliness :) ) then stick your hand up.

Pattern: V1456
View B, no modifications
Size D (from pattern: Bust 38"/97cm, Waist 32&1/2"/83cm, Hip 40&1/2 /103cm)
Worn by me: Bust 38" (B cup with no difference between full bust and high bust measurements), waist 30", hip 40"

Monday, 10 February 2020

School sewing and lessons learned

I don't care to think how many years ago it was that I last sewed a big batch of navy school shorts and skirts for the kids, but judging by how tight P's shorts were getting it was a while.
(whoops, 4 years, just found the post. Bad mummy! :) )

But they'd lasted well and so I'd put off any updating. Fast forward to the start of this school year and both kids were in need of some fresh clothing for their bottom halves.


I found some super cheap lightweight navy fabric at Eliza's and bought about 5 metres (for maybe $20). It has a little bit of stretch and I guess is best described as a tropical weight suiting fabric. I've used perhaps 2/3rds of it here to make the following:


3 pairs of Oliver + S Sketchbook shorts in size 10 for P - He's still comfortably wearing these size 8 ones, but I figured since he's almost 12 it was time to go up a size, and he measured perfectly for the size 10 although much taller. I didn't add length as they're a comfortably long pattern to start with.


For A, I made two of the Oliver + S Badminton skorts. This is a sweet pattern with a little pair of built in shorts and is one of the only skirts in her previous school wardrobe that she liked. I toyed with leaving the scallops off and just doing a straight hem facing but she said she liked the scallop bits.


And she got two pair of her favourite shorts, the Oliver + S Class Picnic shorts. Hers are all a straight size 10 as well cause while she's shorter and younger she's measuring the same in waist and hips as her beanpole brother.

As with any Oliver + S patterns, the sewing was a delight and I found I enjoyed working like a trojan to get them all made in the few evenings between holidays end and school starting.

And then the tragic part? After only two weeks of wearing and washing (like maybe two to three wears each for A's clothes) everything is falling apart.

I could cry, except in the scheme of heavy stuff going on in my life right now, some frayed school clothes is so trivial it's not funny. Which makes it kind of funny.

Anywhere I trimmed to 1/4" (and that was as close as I got) it's all falling apart. And of course with the Class Picnic and the Badminton patterns, that's pretty much the whole facing edges. I've just gone around the hem lines with a zig zag stitch as I could not bear to think of any more involved kind of rescue. That'll do and they still look better than the official school uniform clown sized trackpants.


Lesson learnt: Life is too short to buy shit fabric.

P.S. How classy is our rental? :) It's a bit of a dump but that clothesline is absurdly functional. Massive, blasted with westerly sun and ridiculous amounts of wind. If there was a surburban rental laundry competition I'd be all over it!!