Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange Part IX - Falling Leaves Necklace

Gosh, I've got so much to share and I'm moving like a cartoon animal whose limbs are a blur...

But here I am, pausing for a second, to update the blog, as I'm delighted to announce that my October instalment in the year of giving (in lieu of the regular February Secret Valentine Exchange) has been received.

When I first put out the call for what to do with my rest time on our annual January holiday, I was delighted with one of the responses: Make me a macramé necklace thingy, said Deb (or words to that effect)

I've been following Deb on social media for many years now. She's a sewist and knitter of extraordinary talent, but I was also captivated by her photography. She would sew the loveliest clothes for her grandkids and pose them on a mannequin, in the snow, in her garden, and a deer would stroll past and be in the frame.

She's moved to a bigger city now so the photos of tapping maple trees are gone, but the recent snap with the Northern Hemisphere* leader we all want, Trudeau, was equally breathtaking.

* qualifier required, as down here in the south we all wish Jacinda Arden was our head honcho

Deb also throws the best looking dinner parties and goes to exatrordinary lengths to get the table, and the attendees, all turned out nicely!

I knew that even if my necklace turned out more costume-y than elegant, and it is string and rock after all, she could make it work for a fall themed dinner party.

So in the heat of the Australian summer I started knotting...

The stone cabochard and 1mm nylon threads came from a bead shop: Wholesale Beads. It is open to the public and you check you handbag in a locker, take a bucket and then wander over two levels finding all the things you need. Good fun for a craft nut!

Following a pattern from the book Bohemian Macrame, I spent our summer holiday knotting away and over the following week I finished all the leaves. Then I let it rest through Autumn

Attaching and knotting each leaf together took a little longer than I'd anticipated, but was a nice 1hr per night in front of the telly, kind of activity.

The back looks a hot mess as all the ends of the threads are cut and melted (the reason it needs to be a nylon thread)

I was delighted to hear it arrived in Canada, and Deb, who rarely shows herself on Instagram posted a lovely photo of her wearing it.

I'm having a lot of fun making things for people and sneaking them off in the post. Only three months left before my 12 months is up. Have you made something unexpectedly for someone? It's quite fun.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

A Lush Fabrics T-shirt: McCalls 6963

Sometimes a sewing project has to jump the queue.

This was definitely one of those. Did you know I'm one of the co-organisers of Melbourne Frocktails? It's a cocktail party for people who sew. It all started here in Melbourne about 6 years ago and a friend and I took over the running of the event with last year being our first one.

This year we found some new sponsors, or rather some of the new sponsors found us! An unexpected contact from Lush Fabrics over in WA led to them joining Melbourne Frocktails as a major sponsor and donating a cut of fabric for every attendee to take home in their stash bags. Um, hello, seriously, all 150 of us get 1m of fabric!!They were even kind enough to throw in two spare cuts in case we organisers would otherwise miss out.

The crappy rental we're living in has a particularly LUSH lawn right now (let's see if we can keep that alive through summer, eye roll) so I thought I should take my Lush photos on the grass.

The fabric I chose is a drapey rayon knit. It was very hard to choose as there were cotton knits, solids, prints, French terry, textured knits... All sorts of gorgeous fabrics in those five huge boxes.

Anyway, I figured a drapey knit would suit McCalls 6963 which was in my pattern stash and as yet unmade.

I've made the View B which is the deeper neck drape and short sleeve. I was leery of the pattern's description as "close fitting" as nothing ever seems to be, so I went down a size. Well it is quite close fitting and either this size or the one above would have been fine. But there's nothing worse than too wide shoulders on a top pattern with such an open neckline.

I hadn't paid much attention to the length of the body, and it's long! Of course because I was using the border print, I wasn't about to shorten it, but be aware that it's a good, tunic length and I'm 170/6'7".

Searching for somewhere other than on my back on the lawn to take some pictures we wandered around, found some washing on the line and then gave up. But there you go. It's a T-shirt, the main point is it was free fabric and there's enough for everyone!

Exciting times. Frocktails is only two weeks away and I have a truckload of sewing to do! Bye.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Henri Joggers - Playing with the boys

I was fully prepared to photograph these plain, grey trackpants on a coat hanger...

But I was told there's only ONE way to model grey trackpants. So, stick a Kenny Loggins B side on the turntable and let's do this! I promise, this was entirely HIS idea!!

This wasn't meant to be some kind of weird homoerotic TopGun tribute... He just needed some tracksuit pants for lounging around the house and so I obliged.

The pattern is the Henri Trackpants from Jalie. Straight size as per measurements and no mods. The first pair were in a lovely dark, blue grey, heavy rib knit from Fabric Deluxe.

The fabric was a bit narrower than a regular knit so there wasn't enough for the pockets. I used a lighter weight cotton knit and then some more of that for the drawstring. In attaching the waistband the 2" wide elastic got stretched out. Probably because I'd tried serging the edge of it to make it look nicer. The waistband is wrapped around the elastic but doesn't enclose it fully. That's great to stop it twisting, but hard to get a really neat finish. I like the wide elastic but I'm not entirely sold on this as a waistband finish.

These ones were being worn so much there was a risk they'd never come off for the wash, so I grabbed some cheap sweater fleece on sale at Spotlight and made a second pair. I obviously wasn't all that bothered by the waistband finish to change anything. These are also straight up.

What's not straight up are the muddled character references in our volleyball shoot :)

Who was in a hurry for his date with "Charlie"? Well that was Maverick checking his watch, sure, but he wasn't wearing grey trackpants...

He was in jeans.

And the only one who wore a T-shirt was Goose and when you play at Top Gun it's a truth that nobody wants to be Goose...  (the kids and I did offer to fake tan him and spray him in oil to be shiny sweat, rofl)

Also vetoed was giving his hair the Iceman peroxide treatment.... So Slider it is - and in fact he's the only one who actually wears grey trackpants. But let's not let reality stand in the way of a man's trackpants modelling dreams!!

The drawcord on these ones is some of the recycled denim cotton cording that I bought from String Harvest without nay particular project in mind. It's perfect for drawstrings but I want to give the rest of it a much more exciting purpose than that.

The kids had a blast at the end of our photoshoot going for the accidental ball-to-head outtake. It took a lot of goes to get it just right, hitting the wrong part of the head wasn't good enough for the kids, and I was laughing too much to actually get the photo in time.

Anyway, grey tracksuit pants. There you go. Much love to Flipper who fully earned these two pair of trackpants!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019


Finally we've finished our house move and have a computer plugged in and internet access. Time to catch up on everything I was sewing when I was meant to be sorting belongings and packing boxes!

There's no better distraction from real, grown up, life chores than a bit of costume sewing.

At the end of the gymnastics term they always have a dress up theme (previous wild animal and circus themes) and this time it was superhero theme.

What better way to show off my superhero mum skills than to disregard all the tedious jobs and whip up a leotard entirely from stash fabrics and patterns?!

I had been gifted some leftover bits of lycra from the lovely Jorth and whaddaya know, it was all the supergirl colours. Along with my small bit of leftover gold I was set.

The pattern is a mash up of the top half of Jalie 3136 and the bottom half of Jalie 3466. I doubled the skirt so it would have both a front and back portion rather than just being a skort.

The navy fabric was only just enough for the sleeve length to be elbow length, but then I had the inspiration to continue the gold and red blocking and I think it turned out better than plain navy long sleeves would have been.

The leotard was cut and sewn in a day and then I tried plugging in the Silhouette Cameo that I still have on loan. Something was going wrong with the software and the recognition of the connection. The resident IT guy (Flipper) remembered it had been an ordeal the first time and couldn't recall what he'd eventually done. By the time we'd both given up I had handcut a stencilled superhero logo and was ready to iron it on.

Luckily, amongst the few A4 sheets of Picture Perfect Iron on Vinyl I had were yellow and red. Super stashing powers right there, right?!

There's no doubt I impressed the kid. She was delighted! There's a bit of leg creep in the shorts and I think elastic leg holes might be more successful than hemmed boy leg shorts. I noticed her tweaking them all the time which kind of ruined the supergirl vibe. I mean Superman never seemed to get a wedgie, did he?

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Ottobre boy jeans

The reason I ended up with a couple of Finnish and German back issues of Ottobre magazine was that I'd been on the hunt for a new boy jeans pattern.

My previous favourite, which I still love, was Burda 9406. I made a few of those for P (here and here), and then topped out last year with the final size 10.  And they're now outgrown...

I often read of the difficulty of sewing for opinionated tweenage girls, but how about lovely tweenage boys who will happily wear almost anything but are overlooked by pattern designers? 

So many kid patterns top out at about size 12, or less, and most grown up patterns won't do until at least 16 or so. There's a little gap there for the boys, and Ottobre seems to be one of the only companies that's filling it. 

These are pattern 36: Straight Cut Jeans from Ottobre 1/2016. I'd purchased this magazine and the other I used for A's tops because they both had a boy's jeans pattern, going all the way up to size 170cm. This one for rigid denim, and the other one for stretch denim.

And I just happened to have some great black rigid denim in the stash. It came from Rathdowne Fabrics ages ago as water damaged stock, but after a wash it looks perfect to me.

There are some cool topstitching details like the extra pocket yoke, and the knee darts which are actually shaping darts not just decorative stitching.

The back pocket pieces are chopped apart, seam allowances added and then stitched back together to cool effect.

You've got to love topstitching to make jeans and I always do. At least up until attaching the belt loops and then it all gets a bit sweary. Using a shim helps a lot but it's still a pain.

That, and hammering in jeans buttons. I hate that job so much that I have now tracked down a die set adapter for my older style snap press and a set of jeans buttons dies. Next time it's going to be a breeze!

I've made a straight size 150 as per his measurements and they look like they should fit for a little while, yet there's no elastic and they're not falling down. Moving away from elastic in the waistband of your pants seems to be the young male rite of passage as far as home sewing goes!

Having said that, his favourite pants to wear, that he reaches for every time, are the elastic waisted Oliver + S Field Trip cargoes. And thankfully I've still got a size or two left in that pattern.

Anyone else sewing for a tweenage boy? Any favourite patterns out there?

Monday, 9 September 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange Part VIII - Raffia hat

It's time for the September instalment in my year of the Secret Valentine Exchange.

In case you're not familiar with the original concept - two wonderful women organised a gift exchange between makers all around the globe. A short bio of who you are and what you like was submitted and a giftee would be assigned to you and someone else would receive your name and become your gifter. We made our small handmade things, whatever they may be, and posted them around the world in order for our giftee to receive it on Valentine's Day. A kind of insurance against feeling left out on that most crass, commercial day of celebrations.

With the illness of one of the organisers, the Secret Valentine Exchange is in hiatus this year and so I put out a call for ideas of things to make during my January vacation - when I'm usually crafting my gift to post at the start of February. The list was so long and there were so many fun ideas I decided to run with it all year. So here we are in September with the 8th instalment in my year of the S.V.E.

I'm particularly fond of this month's creation for the way it came to be.... The recipient @rou2an1_made politely put in a request for a straw hat like the one I'd made P way back when he was a gondolier for Italian Day.

I'm not going to pretend I wasn't flattered, but I quickly doused her flames by saying that had been far too much work, and I wanted to stick with using materials I already had.... In short, I told her she'd overstepped the mark :) But the idea stuck.

And then I was enjoying learning to crochet... And then Flipper came home with a ball of paper raffia that someone had given him to pass on to me.... This could just happen...

Except that I didn't have much of that paper raffia, and so as you can see it became a table mat instead.

I was really wanting to make this hat now, and in August I was off to the Gold Coast for a conference with nothing to do in the evenings. Perfect hat crocheting time. I put in an order with String Harvest for some of the Mondofil paper raffia: a large cone of speckled paper raffia in the cream colour and a smaller cone on the speckled brown, and had them delivered to the apartment I was staying in.

The hat came together over the week with a few late crafting nights and a few conference sessions where it came with me and prevented me from nodding off to sleep during the duller moments :)

The pattern is the Walk In The Park raffia sunhat from ABC knitting patterns (link here). I reduced from the suggested 3.5 hook to a 3 hook in order to get the tension about right. When I'd finished it was quite loose on me, and I consider myself someone on whom hats are usually tight...

I took a trip out to Torb & Reiner (who had assisted me so well with that ambitious straw boater project back in 2014) and purchased some Petersham ribbon and Hat Stiffener.

I sewed the Petersham ribbon such that it would be tight on me, then panicked and thought it was too small, so I ripped it out and made it a bit looser. It's still a tight fit for me but not too tiny. I hoped it would be right for my giftee. I knew nothing about her head size due to her tendency to never show her face on the interwebs and instead hide behind bunches of celery and other produce (#posingwithproduce)

Thankfully it turns out I got it just right!

I used my Hat Stiffener mixed 50:50 with Hat Thinner (very Alice in Wonderland) and painted the crown once and the brim twice to get a good amount of stiffness to the raffia. - and the table mat got a single coat too.

I delivered the hat today and we met for a lunch and had a lovely chat. She has already written a much better tribute to my hat than I could, so check out her Instagram post here.

I might need to make myself one of these hats since I never can find hats that fit me well, and in searching for this hat pattern I found a different super cute one I'd like to size down and make for A.

I'm sadly on a bit of a craft break as we pack up and move house to do some renovations. I have a bit of a blog back log though so while I'm not making I can hopefully catch up here. Or maybe I can leave one hook and a bit of string out of a box... ;)

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Ottobre tops

Suddenly these kids grow and nothing seems to fit them. That was the case with any long sleeve tops that A had, so time for some more

I had a couple of Ottobre magazines that were languishing, hardly used. I figured some simple tops would be a good way to get over those horror Ottobre pants.

This pattern is number 21: Owl Princess from Ottobre 1/2014. it's a simple swingy, flared long sleeved T. I have a German language back copy, but they emailed the English instructions for me to print at home.

The pattern tops out at size 134cm which is a fraction under her current measurements, but was worth a try. I made no modifications to the width, but added 1&1/2" torso length around the waist as I know she has a super long body. No sleeve changes either - they're nice and long!

The umbrella print cotton knit was a long stashed fabric from the $4/m table at Spotlight. Not great quality and only after I'd cut it did I notice the print fault that is on the front, but it's subtle (unfortunately it looks exactly like a faint toothpaste dribble, but oh well).

The Ottobre neckband binding instructions were nice, and it is a binding, rather than a neckband. That saves adding seam allowance to at least one part of the pattern. The neckband is just stretched to fit so  there's a bit of potential for user error if you're not practiced at binding necklines. I don't mind that though, as every fabric will behave differently and so a set length can be equally frustrating.

I put one of Kylie and the Machine's cute labels at the back as there's no centre back neckband seam as my kids are used to.

She surprised me with how much she liked it. I'd had little expectation as I was just using up stash fabric and an old pattern. Happy times.

Feeling buoyed I jumped straight in with another version of the same. This one was all about the iron on jewelled transfer that I'd scored at Jimmy's Buttons a while back.

It needed a plain fabric. and I was surprised to find that my stash of plain cotton lycras had dwindled quite a bit. This red was the perfect choice to let the silver, black and yellow diamantes stand out.

A few of the jewels had slipped from their position and it took a bit of tweezering to get the motif set properly. Once ironed on, they're pretty solid. I've just handed down the last top with jewels on the front after it had been washed many times without any coming unstuck.

She was very happy with this one too. These two were both my choice of pattern and fabric, but the top she had requested when flipping through the  magazine with me was pattern 32: Fly Away, a bat wing top.

This is a very simple pattern with only two pieces and a neckbinding. The shoulder seams end up bias cut and so to stop them stretching out a ribbon is applied down the seam. 

The green merle knit which may have some wool content was in the stash but no ribbon that matched. I couldn't find any that looked good  in shops either so I ended up using a bias binding. 

This pattern goes all the way up to 170cm size so it may get made a few more times in the future. Here, it's a straight size 140.

The high/low hem with elastic is kind of fun. On the model it's shown more gathered making it almost look like the top is tucked in. The modelled shot also shows the sleeve worn pushed up on one side, but the other side has it more of a "bracelet" length, so I'm guessing it's meant to be worn shorter. You can see the difference in length between this one and the first top, and this one is a size larger.

She particularly loves this one, but has discovered that it's hard to wear a bat wing top if you need to put a jumper or coat over the top. Now that spring has arrived with some delicious warmth I think it will be in high rotation.

Another treat for me is that she has decided to wear all of P's outgrown jeans. These are Oliver + S Art Museum pants which were new back here, and the navy pants earlier in the post were these Burda pants that he outgrew quite quickly (they're like new!)