Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Ballet Wrap Top with Oliver + S

This was a fun idea that came out of the Oliver + S Facebook group and a request for a tutorial to create a wrap tie cardigan.

I had a good long think about this one as I knew I wanted the bottom band and the ties to be continuous and cleanly finished. It worked really nicely in the end and the full photographed tutorial is up on the Oliver + S blog now.

Click on the image below to go to the tutorial:

The first version I made was with a remnant of some of the "maille merveilleuse" I bought from Mamzelle Fourmi a few years ago. It is lovely, thick, squishy cotton knit.

I cannot, for the life of me work out how the bottom band and the ties all seem to be one piece. The fabric is simply not wide enough to allow that, yet it certainly seems to be the case. Some bit of cutting magic that with the passing of time since I made it, I absolutely can not explain. Shrug.

Edit: In adding the Mamzelle Fourmi link above I noticed the fabric is a "tissu en tres grand largeur" measuring a whopping 185cm wide. 

I gave A the choice of whether it should tie at the side or the back and she chose the side, telling me that it would be uncomfortable in the car or sitting in a chair if the bow was at the back. Fair enough.

Yet since I've made it, she seems to want to wrap it crazy tight around her so that it's almost like a strait-jacket and then ties it at the back anyway. That's irritated me and we've ended up bickering about how it should be worn, hence it's not getting worn all that much. Silly me.

The second one that I made for the Oliver + S tutorial used the final colourway of the retro double sided knit that I found at Fabric Deluxe. (previous makes with this fabric are here, here and here)

I haven't any modelled photos of this one yet, but they'll come I'm sure as winter seems to be sticking around for a while longer.

Both tops were based on the size 8 School Bus T-shirt. The first version has sleeve cuffs added as the fabric length was insufficient for the required sleeve length.

It was a fun exercise to nut out the tutorial. They're great tops and I know, once I start ignoring how she wears them, they'll get plenty of use. If you're curious about turning a T-shirt into a wrap cardigan, check out the tutorial.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

B6244 Coat - 2 way street

From the moment I saw this pattern I knew I wanted to make it up. I just had to find the right wool....

Given the pattern came out in 2015, it would be fair to say I was prepared to wait for the perfect fabric.

The pattern is Lisette for Butterick B6244, a very simple, but beautifully shaped, open coat. I was looking for a wool that would be suitably warm, didn't need lining, had a nice reverse face - or double sided for the bonus! - and had the lovely drape that this coat requires.

Armed with a generous gift voucher and the ever encouraging Blogless Anna at my side I hit up Tessuti where I found this perfect double sided boiled wool. I passed over the Prada one next to it that was more than twice it's price and bought 2.2 metres (that's relevant and you'll see why later) of which my voucher covered almost half. Ouch.

Then the challenge was to decide which way I wanted to have it. A charcoal coat with navy accents, or navy coat with charcoal... I wore it around the house like a blanket over a few days and I was leaning towards the grey. An Instagram poll had that option slightly ahead, but of course some funny wag suggested making it fully reversible. Yeah, like I'd ever try and do that.... ;)

I'm going to confess to being really bad-ass and not making a muslin. Kind of perverse when dealing with such expensive wool but I was just too exited and wanted to jump in. I did the super scientific thing of trawling other people's makes and then measuring myself and sizing down by one size anyway.

So this is a size 12 (I measured exactly the 14) with 1" of extra sleeve length added. Both the one size smaller and the extra sleeve length I borrowed from Justine of SewCountryChick - which makes no sense as I've never met her and have no idea how our arm length compares, but it just seemed like a good idea. And it's perfect, thank Justine!

The thing that really appealed to me about this pattern is the finishing. It uses flat felled seams almost everywhere and is hemmed. I realise it would be easy to leave a wool coating un-hemmed, and maybe that might even be better for a double sided wool coating but I just don't like it. I want to feel like I'm wearing a blanket, but I don't want to feel like I've chopped up a blanket and barely sewn it together. I need hems.

So, the funny wag on Instagram who suggested flat felling every seam?.... Well I thought it wouldn't work as there are vertical darts from the shoulder down towards the bust and if they were going to be visible, the coat would never be truly reversible. But after I'd sewn the collar (there's a photo tutorial here if you find that tricky) I realised the open lapels of the collar would always hide that dart.

So it really could be reversible....

All it took was to flat fell the sleeve head seams as well. Of course the flat felled seams never look quite as good from their wrong side as their right side, but still perfectly wearable at a pinch.

The wool was absolutely lovely to sew. Don't ever be afraid of sewing good quality wool. It doesn't fray, it presses beautifully and stitches like a hot needle through butter. To flat fell the seams is not hard. The sleeves need to be done in two directions, mostly from the sleeve head down, but then a bit from the hem end up. After flat felling the plastic, narrow, laminate, tubes-of-hell of this coat, no flat felled sleeve seam will ever seem hard.

So, why did it matter to tell you I bought 2.2metres of this wool?
Well, the pattern suggested I'd need between 2&3/8ths and 2&1/2 yards (size 12 to 14). In fact I only used 2metres exactly and had an odd shaped remnant that was the full 150cm width and between 20 and 40cm deep.

I got very exited about how to use up the leftovers and actually ended up doing all of this sewing before sewing up the coat.

First up, a size small Genoa Tote:

This time I used the navy face of the fabric as my main side.

I found some leftover navy striped cotton for the lining and a floral cotton for the pocket. Not my usual super-plain style but I absolutely ADORE the inside of this bag.

Even the zip was in my stash so I was feeling pretty good about the use of leftovers here. I underlined the wool with a stiff interfacing and so the bag has good structure and can pretty much stand up by itself.

I scrounged around and found a D-ring and an old lanyard clip for the key chain.

Then I went to Leffler Leather for some straps - not realising they don't sell portions of hides, just whole pieces. Luckily the guy thought to show me these pre-made navy straps. The thin, navy leather is glued around the strapping and then stitched. They're perfect and I think they look more formal than plain leather straps, which suits the wool bag perfectly. I blew the project out of the water by buying the straps, a multi-size leather hole punch and a whole packet of rivets, but hey, it had to be finished somehow.

And I still had a bit of wool left over.

Just enough for a little pair of slippers! :)

The pattern is Happy Feet by Favorite Things. Each pattern piece is cut from two layers of the double sided wool, so a total of eight uppers and four soles, and I had just enough. I've previously made this pattern for the kids but this was the first time for a grown up. I was a bit baffled by the instructions on how to choose a size. It recommended putting ones heel against the back line and then allowing an extra inch at the toe....

Yet the different pattern sizes were all nested inside one another and so the back heel lines were not together. It seemed that to have the 1" clearance I needed the size L adult. It struck me as odd since the largest size was XL and the pattern suggested it covered men's feet as well. I know I have fairly big feet (size 40), but surely not the second biggest?

And the answer was no, not the second biggest. These slippers, while incredibly warm and seriously soft and cosy are just a bit too big to stay on my feet.

I've passed them on to someone who I may have insulted by indicating that her feet would fill them better than mine. But since I neglected to add any non slip stuff to the soles, I prefer to imagine she doesn't care 'cause she's having a blast sliding around the kitchen with really warm toes!

Of course I didn't get a photo of the coat, bag and slippers all together. It was never meant to be an ensemble! But if you see me out and about before winter is out you're guaranteed to see either the bag, or coat, or both.

Patterns: B6244 View A, Genoa Tote by Blogless Anna, Happy Feet by Favorite Things
Sizes: Coat: 12, Bag: S, Slippers: L
Modifications: Coat: 1" extra sleeve length. Flat felled everything.
Fabric: Charcoal/navy double sided boiled wool from Tessuti (sold out it seems, but the Prada one is still there ;) )

Friday, 3 August 2018

Field Trip Raglans

Along with new trousers, P was in need of some long sleeved Ts for winter.

If you've read even one blog post about sewing for this kid you'll know it's all about sleeve length :) That's certainly the first thing that is outgrown with every long sleeved t-shirt. I should just shorten last year's winter tops to make next year's summer Ts - mental note to self.

These T-shirts are the Field Trip Raglan T in size 10, traced off when I had the pattern out to make the pants. If I remember rightly I added about 2" of extra sleeve length, but I should make the note to myself that this pattern does not run as short in the sleeves as the School Bus t-shirt. I can easily add about 3-4" to that one!

Both fabrics were lovely gifts from Sarah  (@fabrictragic) who had received them through an error in ordering and was allowed to keep them. They weren't her thing and she was intending to take them along to the Fabric ReStash Melbourne. When she heard I wasn't coming she pulled these couple of fabrics (and another) aside for me. She picked right as they're perfect for my kind of kid sewing. P loves them!

Both fabrics are merino wool blends. This blue one is a kind of double knit with a thin blue merino knit backed onto a slightly ribbed white weave knit.

I decided to use the reverse side of the fabric for the pocket and neckband. Then I thought it might be fun to give it a distressed edge look. The pocket is cut without the seam allowances and while the top edge is finished the other edges are just stitched on with a twin needle and left raw.

It took a bit of thinking to work out how to do the neckband and not have the lumpy seam inside the folded neckband. The neckband was sewn into a loop and then attached to the top, right sides together with only one of the neckbands raw edges sewn with the overlocker. Then the seam allowances were pressed away from the neckband and the neckband folded to the outside to cover the seam. This was then twin needle stitched in place.

It's a fun look and is no more fiddly than a regular overlock then twin needle stitch.

The orange fabric is more of an athletic knit. It came from the same store and is also a merino wool blend. The reverse side of this one has a very fine loop back finish. Similar to  loop back terry but with much tinier and closer together loops. I think it's very much designed for sportswear. I suspect it will be hard wearing, nice and warm and easy to spot in a crowd - that is to say, perfect for dressing a 10 year old boy!

No pocket or tricky finishes for this one, but the hems and neckband have a bit of rust brown topstitching.

I'm a big fan of raglan t-shirts as they're so easy to sew together. Quick and simple and well fitting and made with free fabric. Can't beat that.

Finishing up with a blurry photo out-take inspired by having watched the World Cup and seeing the defensive wall in a penalty shoot out:

Thursday, 26 July 2018

V9284 Pull On Pants

This is making me laugh... One thing I have always resisted is elastic waist pants as clothes that can be worn outside the house.

I don't do hair, nails, make-up, or any of that "presentation" stuff, but when it comes time to ride the cargo-bike down to the fish and chip shop in the dark (in the dark, mind you) I will still swap my old track pants for a pair of proper trousers or jeans. My husband is exactly the same. We simply don't consider elastic waist pants as something you can step out of the house in.

So what possessed me to make these?... I had it in my head that I wanted a air of faux leather leggings and so I accumulated a few pattern for pull on knit trousers.

The first I've played with is this one: Vogue 9284 Marcy Tilton

I cut them out of some leftover navy ponte when I was on a crazy cutting binge about a month ago and have just sewn them up in a single evening earlier this week.

With a tip from Sewing Pattern Review I sized down. These are a size 12 which is one size smaller than I would have made based on my measurements and as you can see they're not tight. In fact I think they fit exactly like the pattern cover version once they're sized down. They would be huge if I'd gone with my measured size.

In making these I may have cured myself of the idea that I should have some faux leather legging style pants. I just have too much in the thigh department for these kind of pants to really feel like my thing.  (I'm not complaining, I'm happy with my power legs, I just don't think they suit tapered leg pants)

I like the seaming detail on these pants, but they'd take a fair bit of fiddling to get them to fit as good, tight leggings. I think they'd work best in an even heavier knit. That kind of weird, super heavy knit that nana's pull-on pants were made of. I suspect in a pleather all the creases and wrinkles would be exaggerated so much as to make fitting a nightmare. Seventies style ponte knit it needs to be.

The pants are constructed in such a way that has you sew the side seams last, so there is the opportunity to fit them a bit more at that stage. I could certainly have made them more fitted, and perhaps have taken a bit out of the front crotch, they seems a bit spacious there. But it's such a fine line between baggy crotch and camel toe that I was happier not to fiddle.

Between my dark fabric and blurry photos (photography courtesy of the kids) you don't get a great picture of the pattern. The seaming detail is really nice and I think they hold a lot of promise. I wore these for the day as shown here and they passed the bike commute, lounge around the house and attend French class in the city tests. All with flying colours. I was supremely comfortable all day.

They're not trousers, not quite leggings but nor are they track pants. They're the perfect house pants, but should they be allowed out? that part I'm still unsure about....

Pattern: V9284
Size: 12
Modifications: none
fabric/notions: navy ponte, 1" waistband elastic

Monday, 23 July 2018

Future world champs

A couple of babies were born recently to friends where both partners cycle and so these little newborns have impressive pedalling pedigrees.

I needed to make some bicycle themed baby gifts!

Knowing I was sewing for a baby girl and a baby boy I hit Spoonflower to see what I might find. Strike me lucky, they had just had a "bicycle love" themed competition and it was easy to find a couple of bicycle fabrics

This first one is "Petals & Spokes" by blairfully_made. It's a big print and I didn't notice that there was a smaller scale version also available, but sometimes it's fun to have a giant print on a tiny outfit.

The floral design seemed suitably "girly" and I do love using surprisingly dark fabrics on baby clothes.

Next up I found "Le Tour" by booboo_collective. And that was my baby boy fabric sorted.

Then I discovered Spoonflower now have a service called "fill a yard". It's not that easy to find on their website, but it's here via the How It Works tab. That meant I could split my two designs across one yard (the minimum purchase).

I chose the Organic Cotton Knit Ultra fabric and had my two designs printed with the yard split horizontally, meaning I had the full width and 45" length of each print.

One pattern I didn't seem to own was a basic envelope neck onesie, so I purchased the Brindille & Twig One Piece Romper.  They have a pretty big range of baby clothes patterns, many of which seem to be only simple variations on each other, but if you can't be bothered altering an existing pattern for what you want then go take a look, you may find exactly what you're looking for.

I had printed off the PDF pattern, taped all the pages together and traced the 0-3 months size when I received an email with an update to the pattern. It now included an A0 printing option, updated instructions, a change to the drafting of the neckline and pattern pieces for the neck and cuff bindings. To say that annoyed me is an understatement. When I bought the pattern a week earlier were none of these changes even in the pipeline? If they were in progress but not finalised then at least a heads up that the pattern was in the process of being revised would have been appreciated.

I couldn't be bothered re-printing the pattern so I went ahead with what I had. And it seems to be fine. The only change I made to the pattern was how the leg binding was finished: I've finished the ends like you might a waistband so the seam allowances are tucked in neatly rather than just turned over and stitched down.

There is a tutorial on the Spoonflower website for a little baby hat and since I had just enough to cut that out as well I went for it. My half yard was exactly right for a small romper suit and a hat.

It was interesting to see the difference on the two printed halves of the fabric. This darker fabric was quite tacky to the touch when it first arrived and stretching the fabric showed a bit of the white base layer. Yet the other print, on the same cut of fabric, felt lovely and had a much better penetration of the background beige colour. If they hadn't been printed on the same fabric I'd have sworn they were completely different substrates and printing processes. In an email conversation the designer of the dark Petals & Spokes print mentioned she had had the fabric printed on some Kona Cotton and also found it to be tacky to touch. Perhaps there's a limit to the quality of printing with the much darker backgrounds., Something to consider when choosing designs or designing your own fabric.

By contrast my little peloton onesie feels lovely.

The ribbings are what I had in the stash and I managed to track down a new, smaller (size 14) die set for my old snap press and bought some smaller baby size snaps. Just to balance the fabric issues out, the black snaps on the first suit behaved perfectly and the white ones on the second suit were a beast. None of the black snaps misbehaved yet he white ones had a near 50% fail rate. I tested and tested the ones that are on there now and hopefully they will last as many wears and nappy changes as are required until the suit is outgrown.

Little niggles are quickly forgotten when I got to see how delighted the parents were with their custom onesies and when the new little babies confirmed they have the lung capacity of future world champions after all!

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Back to Front (or not) Butterick 6464

Instead of putting away some left over fabric I was quite certain there was enough for a skirt for me...

I tried my new pattern; the Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt, nope, didn't fit
I traced off the City Stroll skirt in a size down from the one that is now too loose, nope, didn't fit
I fiddled with Lisette B6493 to see if that would work, you guessed it, nope.

Then I struck ninja cutting gold with Lisette for Butterick B6464

...or so I thought. The pattern is intended for knits such as ponte, but I figured this stretch corduroy would be about as stretchy as a very stable knit, so I jumped in.

I was so excited to find I could fit the pattern pieces on the remnant that might have had the same surface area as a 1m cut, but was too oddly shaped for most patterns. I was *that* close to crowing about my ninja cutting prowess on Instagram.

And then I started sewing.... the waistband is sewn together first and the elastic inserted. That was good as I got to test my ability to get the elasticised waist over my hips. Yippeee, it was going to work....

I sewed the skirt panels into a loop only to find that it was a much smaller loop than my waistband, and that skirt section wasn't going to go above my knees let alone around my hips. Wha??!!!

A smart person, who looks at cutting layouts and pays more attention would have spotted that the side panels are doubled. There is a side front panel and a side back panel on each side of the skirt. The centre front and centre back panels are the same, so while there's only two pattern pieces, the skirt needs a total of six, not four skirt sections to make it up.


I considered giving it up, putting it aside, or cutting it down to make a kid sized skirt, but then I wondered if a contrast panel might work.... I had one hour left before picking up the kids and I zoomed into Fabric Deluxe...

...where I found the exact same fabric in a tan/cafe-latte colour. It's the same weight, same cut corduroy, same stretch percentage and certainly a complementary colour. It was worth a try.

The fun thing about this skirt pattern is that it doesn't have a defined front or back. If I wish to think I am a pattern cutting ninja wearing a pink skirt I can wear it one way and avoid mirrors that my show my rear view. Conversely, if I'm feeling like dressing a bit like a tub of neapolitan ice cream and recognising my fallibility I can wear it this way round.

I kind of like it both ways.

Except that now I've got most of a metre of a tan coloured stretch corduroy remnant that I need to put away before I start trying to get too clever again! Doh!

Pattern: Lisette for Butterick B6464
Size: 14
Modifications: None, although made in a stretch woven rather than a knit.
Fabric: Bettina Liano stretch corduroy from The Fabric Store (pink) with identical fabric type from Fabric Deluxe (tan)

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Field Trip Cargo Pants

The second pair of pants I made for the kid with the cold ankles are the Oliver + S Field Trip Cargo pants.

It's been years since I made these pants for him. I use the raglan T-shirt from this pattern all the time, but I've only made him the pants twice before and once for his sister.

I consulted with him about the pattern and then went ahead and ignored his request to not put the cargo pockets on the side. He was good natured about it and we've agreed that the pattern can be a base for some school pants without cargo pockets another day.

The pockets are just really fun. They're constructed with sort of bellows at the edges so they really are as three dimensional as they look in these pictures. It had been a few years and I couldn't help myself but make them again.

Of course they add a fair bit of work to some already quite involved pants. The front is three panels with nice darts at the knee and lots of edgestitched and topstitched seams.

The back has two parts to the leg and regular patch pockets. The waistband is finished with a facing and belt loops and there's an easy to sew faux fly.

I made the size 10 with size 12 length. I only adjusted the length below the crotch seam so the rise and waist height is still that of the size 10. It was a bit confusing to get all the leg panel pieces the right length but luckily everything lined up. They're suitably long and could possibly do with the cuff being turned up once.

Mostly they are long because they're sitting a bit low on his waist. The main pitfall of sewing after dark (lack of sleep notwithstanding) is that I end up guessing at waistband elastic length. He tells me these are a bit loose. Thankfully not so loose that I'm compelled to unpick the casing and change anything. (thanks kid)

The fabric is a heavy duty something (poly/cotton maybe) that I picked up at Eliza's Fabrics for $3/metre. I intended to use it to muslin pants for me or Flipper but it looked perfect for these cargo pants. It's quite wide, so I suspect these are only about $4.50 worth of pants. Although double that figure for the amount of thread that gets used!

Pattern: Oliver + S Field Trip Cargo Pants
Size: 10 width, 12 length
Fabric: mystery poly/cotton home dec weight 
Notions: thread, elastic, button (for decoration)

NB: It turns out Blogger had some technical bug with commenting when EU privacy laws changed. I have finally found the solution to being notified that comments have been made and are awaiting approval, but sadly all comments now seem to come from a no-reply@blogger address so replying directly to you is getting harder. I'll keep working on it.... or change hosting services.....
Shelley xx