Friday, 16 February 2018

Secret Valentine Exchange and sweet kids

Ah holidays... When I wasn't standing in the river being photographed in my swimwear (eye roll) or riding my road bike up the mountains, or chasing the boys on the mountain bike trails on a borrowed mountain bike... I was stitching.

 ... and eating and drinking obviously. :)

Every year I look forward to participating in the Secret Valentine Exchange, and since it coincides with our annual end of school holidays vacation, I always take my project away with me.

This year I was creating a gift for Simone in the Netherlands. She was very brief in her little survey about her craft tastes. For favourite colour(s) she listed simply: earth, and for favourite styles/textiles etc she said, even more simply: handmade.

So, you can imagine my heart leapt at the Earth bit. I am all over that as a colour scheme! And then I figured the Handmade made part gave me carte blanche to do whatever the heck I liked! Nice one Simone.

I did do a bit of stalking/research via her instagram and web pages to discover that she makes absolutely lovely jewellery. I also saw a very handsome dog pop up in the occasional photo and one of my original plans had been to make a nice dog collar and matching lead set. But then I realised that the elegant silver buckle, slide, D-ring and clip would all weigh so much that postage would be crazy. Another plan....

I'd been wanting to make another cross stitch cushion since the one I made for Sanae herself (one of the Secret Valentine Exchange organisers) and found a simpler looking one in one of my Stitch Idees magazines. - bonus points for getting to participate, ever so lightly, in #sewjapaneseinjanuary.

So my little bundle of Aida linen and DMC threads came away on holiday and during the evenings I stitched, and stitched, and stitched.

Of course it took longer than I had predicted and I was mindful of needing to sew it up quickly when I got home. And of course I failed to do that and made all the same mistakes over and over again that I had made when I sewed Sanae's cushion cover.

To make a fully lined, envelope cushion cover is actually not that hard but it can be a brain teaser to get everything in the right place so that when it's turned out all the different layers are in the right places. I've drawn myself a diagram and some step by step notes and I really should photograph it as well one day. My brief, late night, ill tempered online search failed to turn up any tutorials that showed what I was trying to do.

I had the 28 count linen and DMC threads in my stash, but nothing suitable for the back or lining. I needed some swimsuit lining from GJ's Fabrics anyway and knew they would have the perfect fabrics for this project so off I went.

The backing is a linen of a similar  mushroomy grey to the DMC thread, and then the lining and self made piping was a quilting cotton that co-ordinated nicely.

By the time I had finally figured out the cushion construction I was in no mood to sew buttonholes, but luckily my grey snaps were perfect and in 5 minutes it was all done.

I sent it off to Simone without an insert and I was delighted to see that not only did it arrive in time for Valentine's Day but she seemed sufficiently pleased with it that she went out and purchased a cushion insert for it that very same day. Phew. It's nerve wracking creating for other makers, but immensely satisfying as well.

Meanwhile, a Secret Valentine gift was winging it's way to me, all the way from Tuscon, Arizona. Arriving the day before Valentine's Day I only had to sit on my hands for 24 hours before I could open it.

Where I had been gifted a valentine partner with very similar tastes to mine, I can only imagine my poor gift maker's face when she read my survey. My gift creator was Kirsten, aka @bobbypinbandit.

Her Instagram feed is all colour, delicate stitching and really, pretty things. In making my gift she made something exceedingly beautiful and very pretty but also adhered to my beige/neutral and useful ethos.

She made me this beautiful little needle book. The front and back covers are padded with internal pockets and look at that gorgeous wool embroidery on the front. Those flowers are so fluffy and soft it's crazy!

The internal pages are cream felt, and she included a card of thread, a few needles, buttons and safety pins for me. I'm super-intrigued by the perfect scalloped edges on those felt pages. I'm thinking there's a tool I don't have yet... ;)

Just a few days before receiving this gift I had gone into the city on the train with a bag that needed some running repairs to the leather strap. I stitched it up on the train ride but then was left with my needle and thread hanging out in my coin purse just waiting to impale my fingers when I reached for my coffee money. I'm always joking that "safe" and "elegant" are two states of being that I find simultaneously unobtainable, but damn if this gift doesn't shoot me straight to swanky-safety-stratosphere levels! Thank you Kirsten , it is perfect and stunningly beautiful.

Another little holiday gift was getting to catch up with Maiike of Maaidesign when we were on holidays. We hit the mountain bike trials together then drank coffee and chatted all things swimwear and activewear sewing. A pretty perfect morning in my book!

To finish up, a gift for a kid, designed by a kid.

One of our kid friends was having a birthday, and since this cool little kid falls into the category of having a mum who I really enjoy spending time with, she qualifies for a handmade gift. That's how the equation works, seriously.

My kids get pocket money and purchase gifts for their friends out of their own pocket money, but then for those select kids with the awesome-parent asterisk next to their name, I supplement with a handmade something. My daughter chose the pattern and the stash fabrics and trims and thus this super sweet skirt was created.

The pattern is Pattern C from Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls. I had it already drafted off in size 110cm which A is still wearing 2 years after I made it here. This friend is a bit shorter than A, so I knew it would fit ok. The fabrics are a Japanese lawn and a Nursery cotton, both from Spotlight but long vintaged in the fabric stash.

I would never have put them together but I think she chose well and it's really sweet.

I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day. We've had a birthday at our house too recently, so there'll be more birthday gift sewing to share soon.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Lisette B6358 - Swimwear Sewathon Part 4

You can't say you haven't been warned...

There have been plenty of opportunities to unsubscribe, block the blog or generally ignore me, yet here I come, in a bikini no less and you're still looking?! :) 

I understand. You're here for the pattern review. Well let's have it!


This is Lisette for Butterick B6358, a swimsuit pattern with a one-piece and bikini option. I thought I'd have a crack at the bikini, since I'd just made the one-piece Vogue swimsuit.

The top has a cute tie at the centre front and princess seamed cups which gives the option for colour blocking. The pants, while not as all-encompassing as the other Lisette pattern I'd used last year are still pretty generous in their coverage.

I was happily sewing along until I came to the bit where the elastic that goes around the top of the bikini top ends and the tie sections are edgestitched. I'd been zig zag stitching my elastic in place but surely I wasn't going to zig zag stitch on the ties? It was then that I remembered there is a full sew-along tutorial for this pattern on the Oliver + S blog.

My query was answered there (just switch to a straight stitch) and I was reminded of the option of adding some plastic side supports to the bikini top. I'd forgotten about that part and hadn't left the lining seam allowance free to accommodate them.

I tried the top on, determined it definitely needed the side supports and also decided I was never going to add bra cups anyway, so I could use my lining and cup lining layers to enclose the stays. Here they are in all their bodgy, last-minute-insertion glory

I used some quilting template plastic that I had lying around and cut these little paddle-pop stick shaped stays. They work perfectly and give the sides of the bikini top the structure they need to not crumple. It's rare that I would say I gain anything from sew-alongs, as frequently they just seem to be a photographed rehash of the instructions. But this one is useful and I'd encourage anyone to refer to it before getting started.

The other tip I'd take for next time is to use the Jalie method of inserting elastic into the straps. In this Lisette pattern the strap is sewn as a loop, turned right side out, then the elastic threaded into it. Problem being that elastic always seems to want to twist inside tubes. In the Jalie Gigi bikini that I'd just made for A, the elastic is stitched to the seam allowance of the stitched strap tube before turning it right side out. Then, when the tube is turned the elastic is neatly anchored. The Jalie pattern instructions are always available as free downloads, so you can see the elastic technique on page 9 here.

That would mean shortening the strap length to match the elastic length (can you see it's slightly ruched above?) but that's no problem.

I also wondered if I shouldn't insert some elastic into the waistband and the extensions that form the back waistband ties. I went with the pattern instructions and didn't, but if you like your waistband to have a bit of oomph and holding power then I'd say add elastic. I've used the Carvico VITA lycra here and it's wonderful firm, compressing lycra with great recovery. I'm guessing a flimsier lycra would make for a very "soft" waistband.

We've got a beach holiday planned for April and I definitely want to make the one piece view and give the leg openings a bit of a higher cut. A lovely commenter on Sewing Pattern Review referred to that as a French Cut leg, which sounds much better than my "stuck-in-the-eighties leg". So I'll keep the top half, add the stays, change the strap technique and French-ify the legs. Should be good...

Pattern: Lisette for Butterick B6358 - view A/B
Size: 14 - as per measurements
Modifications: last minute additions of side stays otherwise as per pattern
Fabric: Carvico VITA recycled nylon lycra and mystery stretch mesh lining cause I'd run out of the nice stuff

Friday, 9 February 2018

Jalie 3671 Gigi Bikini - Swimwear Sewathon Part 3

Still going with blogging about this summer's swimwear and it's bikini time!

I'm letting A go first 'cause she looks much cuter in her bikini.

I have never seen her more excited about something I've sewn for her. She put it on the moment it was finished and then wore it every single chance she got. At home it was constantly on and then when we went out somewhere it was all I could do to convince her to put clothes over the top. It was not coming off. Ever.

The pattern is Jalie 3671 Gigi. I've sewn the View A with single tie back, halter neck straps and lower cut waist. Straight size J from memory. I didn't bother with the drawstring ruching of the sides of the bikini bottoms. There's so little fabric there anyway!

It's ridiculously cute in that tiny pieces of fabric way, and this particular fabric was just crying out to be a bikini. It's a branded swimwear fabric (Sea Folly I believe) that I picked up at GJ's Fabrics when I was doing my lightning tour of Melbourne's fabric stores to compose this shopping guide.

The fabric is a cotton-feel fuschia base with these tiny scalloped orange ruffles. In all it's quite thick and substantial and is pretty slow drying as far as swimsuits go. That didn't stop her from pulling it on, still wet, every morning we were on vacation. Thankfully GJ's also stocked some of the wider (2cm) bikini clasps needed for the back closure.

My only issue with the pattern is that the bottoms are a bit prone to riding up at the back. I need to give her bottoms the leotard-like, low cut adjustment and maybe try these ones out for me.

...and it's my turn next (trembling...)

Monday, 5 February 2018

Jalie 3668 Valerie - Swimwear Sewathon Part 2

With the pre-holiday swimwear sewathon in full swing I realised that if A and I were both going to have bikinis - a lifelong dream of hers, we would need some sun protection too.

Enter the Jalie Valerie (3668) pattern. A raglan sleeve rashie with various sleeve lengths, cropped or regular body length and the option to insert a front zipper. So, if A was getting her full dream realisation she would have had the cropped torso version, but that doesn't give the sun protection she needed so was nixed. Sorry kid.

I'd actually traced off this pattern for both kids last summer but never got around to making them. I stuck with the size I'd traced, J width and L length as that's what her more recent leotards had been. The body fit is fine and the sleeve length is super generous, but this kid always seems to need more torso length and she does, much to her delight, get a little bit of her tummy exposed.

The colours were chosen to try and co-ordinate with her new bikini (apparently the BEST thing I've ever made her and yet to get it's blog feature). The three fabrics are all the Carvico VITA recycled lycra from my stash.

I figured I could make another and use up some too small for anything else remnants of swimsuit lycra with some more colour blocking. The sleeve length on this one was determined by how much of the floral fabric was left. The pink and green are Carvico VITA. It hits just above the elbow and is perfect.

For my version I was keen to have the front zipper, but the couple of suitable, open ended, plastic zippers that were in my stash were all about 5cm too short. I was determined to stick to stash sewing, and didn't have time for zipper shopping anyway, so mine is another straight up View A

I matched mine to my biking too, using the bright lime green and the forest green of my bikini and then threw on black sleeves.  It looks weirdly lumpy above due to the ties on the front of my bikini, but if you follow me on Instagram you've already copped an eyeful of what it looked like when worn alone! :)

Mine was size V as per my measurements with no alterations to the pattern until I'd made it up. Then I trimmed about 4cm off the sleeve length before hemming them. They really are generous sleeves as I'm normally one who either adds length or is barely satisfied with  long sleeves.

This is a great rashie pattern for us girls (and probably P really) but to avoid the feminine waist shaping I might have to pick up Jalie's men's raglan T-shirt pattern to use as a rashie for Flipper. But he can wait until next summer, there's more for the girls first!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Vogue 9192 - Swimwear Sewathon Part 1

So it happened again, I found myself sewing a bunch of new swimwear just before we set off on holiday.

We're back home now, and back to school and work, so it's time to relive the awesomeness of summer holidays and share the awkwardness of photographing swimsuits.

When in doubt, look away and pretend you're somewhere, or someone, else.

So this Tarzan-esque number is Vogue 9192, which has an impressive number of different garments in the one pattern. I've made View C, one of two one-piece costume options included in the pattern.

I'd initially envisaged making this swimsuit in black, just like the pattern cover version. I set off for Jimmy's Buttons and, of course, found the perfect circular, dark steel O ring. But as I was talking to Jimmy about what I was making he also found a bamboo ring for me. Well that really appealed to my swinging-from-vines-into-the-river holiday fantasies and the black suit would obviously have to wait...

I had some khaki green lycra but thought that might be taking my Tarzan fantasy a bit far , so settled instead on this nice wine-y purple-y red.  - appropriately called Merlot on the  Aussie version of the Carvico VITA swatch book.

This is some of the wonderful VITA Xtra Life lycra that I got via Eclipse textiles and a friendly, anonymous, intermediary retailer (you rock!). Made by Carvico in Italy, the fabric is knitted from Econyl, a 100% recycled post waste nylon filament. This is swimsuit fabric made from old industrial carpets and discarded fishing nets collected off beaches, and it's fabulous. Matte, suitably thick, perfectly coloured, UV proof, chlorine resistant etc etc. It's the bees knees of swimsuit lycra, so long as you can cope with solid colours only (or are able to buy the base substrate and do your own dye sublimation - anyone wanna go shares in a sublimation printer? ;) )

Back to the pattern.... I cut a straight size 14 as per my measurements, and for this first go at the pattern, I made no changes.

I think I might be a bit stuck in the eighties when it comes to swimsuit styles as I'm finding these leg holes too low for my liking. Now I'm not suggesting going the full 80's Brian Rochford, but when I searched for images to try and explain what that might mean to an international audience I found this reference for early-mid nineties Brian Rochford and there's my leg hole height right there, please.

Especially when it comes to the back view. I'm pleased that I'll never get a wedgie in this swimsuit, but it's definitely a bit too conservatively low for my liking. Oh, and the back view is really evocative of a Tarzan suit! (must remember NOT to make this up in stripes for fear of looking like an olden days circus strongman)

Those few wrinkles in the mid back section are all that results of the gathering for the right side seam. It seems like quite a bit of gathering as you sew it, but once on, the side seam doesn't look gathered, just a bit puckered. I'd be tempted to either shorten that side and straighten the seam out altogether, or lengthen it at least half as much again so that the little wrinkles turn into some proper ruching.

The swimsuit is fully lined, front and back and then there's a shelf bra which is finished with elastic under the bust. I had very little left of that nice, cotton touch, self striped lining fabric (like this), so mostly lined with a mesh knit as I knew that self lining with the VITA would make it way too thick.

The mesh knit is a bit synthetic feeling and quite a bit more stretchy, but has so far stayed on the inside and not wandered out under the elastic and into view. I did have enough of the nice lining for the shelf bra, and a little gusset bit - that open ended crotch pocket that always just filled with sand when you were a kid at the beach! Can't believe I elected to add that to my swimsuit after all those years of wondering why swimmers always came with a sand pocket just where you didn't want one!

No fear about the one shoulder leading to wardrobe malfunctions, it stayed put nicely even when I was being silly.

I'm not thinking of making another one of this swimsuit straight away, but I'd be tempted to make the other one-piece view and raise the leg openings at least an inch. But then I'm just about to say that about another swimsuit pattern in another blog post....

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2 + 2 and a winner makes ...?!

Rather than just announce the winner of the Seashore Sundress pattern giveaway (and I will, but you have to be patient) I thought I'd share another Oliver + S make with you.

If you haven't noticed already I'm quite a fan of their patterns, which I guess is what lead to me buying the Seashore Sundress pattern twice by mistake! I'm on a mission to use up all the odd sized bits of fabric I have and I thought there might be enough of the chambray I'd made my Soho Shorts from to make a skirt for A.

I pretty much let her pick the pattern from my Oliver + S shelf but I confess to having guided her towards the 2+2 skirt. I hadn't made it for such a long time.

In fact here's the last time... You ready for a pretty funny flashback?....

She'll kill me when she sees that photo, but it cracks me up. So the last time I made the skirt was the size 18-24m for my 20 month old. And here I was tracing off a size 6 with 8 length. Wow, time flies.

I suddenly had the urge to make the top again too, so I traced off both, then went hunting for some fabric remnants that would fit the top pattern. Now, it's confession time... In three goes at making this top I haven't once done it "right". Every time I've used a knit, and cut the back pattern piece on the fold (omitting the inch and a half that is the button placket and overlap). It makes it more of a t-shirt than a blouse. But it's a pretty T-shirt alright.

I only had enough of the chambray to do the patch and not the bias neck ties or the bias sleeve facings, so they were cut from the fabulous Zonen09 beetle knit remnant (previously used here). And in doing that I perfectly finished off that remnant with nothing to spare either. So satisfying.

I stitched the inside of the pleats down to about halfway so that there's a guide there for ironing them, but to be honest she has been grabbing this skirt straight off the clothesline and putting it back on immediately each time it's been washed. It's yet to even make it to the ironing pile (where things are known to dwell for a long, long time)

She was very keen to show you the side placket of the skirt. There are two hand sewn snaps and then the button to close. But to be honest, there's enough give in the elastic waist and I think the plackets could easily be omitted and the side seams sewn straight through if you were feeling like a quicker sew.

There's plenty of growing room in this outfit and I like it enough that I could jump straight back in and make another, but next up was lots of swimwear for our upcoming summer holiday.

Meanwhile, let's see who gets the Seashore Sundress pattern: Flipper helped out by plugging the numbered comments into a random number generator and it came up with comment number 4, which fits very nicely with the 2+2 theme of the blog post!

Congratulations Jessica. I'll email you directly for your address then post it off.

Pattern: Oliver + S 2+2 blouse and skirt
Size: 6 with length of 8
Modifications: I cut the blouse back on the fold (remove 1&1/2" for the 1" placket and 1/2" overlap)
Fabrics: Cotton chambray remnant and Zonen09 Beetle knit originally from Maaidesign

Saturday, 13 January 2018

All Day (Christmas) Shirt: Vlisco / TRON version

Long before the All Day Shirt was released I was dreaming of making my husband a non conventional "Hawaiian" shirt and I was hunting for the perfect fabric. Eventually I found this amazing Vlisco Java wax print at Brave Fabrics and then the pattern came out and it was all just meant to be.

To read more about the fabric, click the image below to check out the Brave Fabrics blog post that Erin invited me to write, and then have a look at the other gorgeous fabrics she stocks. How loud could your next garment be in Vlisco wax print?!

Here I thought I would just make my usual notes about pattern adjustment so that I can keep my ledger in order.

As for his Atelier Brunette double gauze shirt I shortened the sleeves by cutting them at the lengthen/shorten line, then sewing a 1" deep double fold hem with total hem allowance of 1&1/2".

Of course I had a bit of fun pattern matching and had to get the ruler out to make sure that where my orange stripes crossed the front placket they would end up the same length as any other orange stripes elsewhere on the shirt!

Can you spot the chest pocket in that photo above? I thought not ;) I wondered if it might not be a bit invisible when worn too, so I actually unpicked a bit and slipped a ribbon tag under one edge then restitched it. But then I decided that was "too much" - like this shirt hadn't gone way over the top already, and took it out again.

The electric blue is ever so slightly teal and I knew a button match would require the expert assistance of Buttonmania, so I went down and blinded the poor things with my shirt. But of course the perfect button was found. It was surprisingly quite teal in colour and in the box didn't look like it would be the one to pick, but worked perfectly when placed on the shirt.

My aim had been a Hawaiian style shirt but just avoiding any obvious floral or islander style prints. To make it even more of a casual shirt I squared off the hem. Flipper thought the hem should be slightly shorter than the side height of his other All Day Shirt, so I cut straight across the front and back pattern pieces about 3/4" above the highest point of the original hem line. Then still finished it with a 3/4" hem.

At each side seam I left just over an inch of the side seam unstitched and created a small side vent. I didn't get close up photos but I'm sure you can imagine a narrow 1/2" hem on each side of the vent that is topstitched and then a bartack at the end of the side seam. It look great and allows that little bit of extra movement at the hip.

And then it got a little label (cool labels from Kylie and the Machine) and was wrapped up as part of his Christmas present.

The fabric is great and a delight to sew with. Imagine the weight of a traditional quilting cotton type fabric but with the fineness and weave of a Liberty lawn. It was like stitching crisp butter!

I have a feeling he'll be happy to receive more shirts like this one, so I still have my eye out for any dark, non floral, quirky prints that would make great party shirts., Then we'll just need to get invited to more parties!

Size: L
Modifications: Short sleeve and straight hem with side vents
Notions: buttons, thread, interfacing and label - but no Swear Words, the pattern is too good for that!

I'll be back in a day or two with some Oliver + S sewing and then we can pick a winner of the Seashore Sundress giveaway...