Sunday, 5 July 2020

warm woolly Bento

I've hit that depth of winter will-I-ever-be-warm-again feeling.

So, I sewed a warm, woolly jumper. I'd bought the fabric ages ago from Rathdowne Fabrics, probably intended it for one of the kids.... I was feeling colder than they looked so I had a play with seeing if there was enough for a jumper for me.

The fabric is a really thick, loop back wool knit. Kind of like a super thick french terry that smells of sheep when you iron it.

Along each selvedge was a section of thinner stripes with a raw, fringed black edge.

A cooler person than I would have used that selvedge with the raw edge somehow. But I just couldn't get my head around it...

I kept it simple and reached for a pattern that i already had traced off. The Liesl & Co Bento tee. This is the size L which is what I made when I first used the pattern and I knew that would be plenty loose enough for outerwear.

The only modification I made was to add the bottom hem band. Perhaps I made that a bit more gathered than it should have been, maybe I should have added a side split to the hem. Either way, I lost the square, boxy pullover idea that had been in my head all along.

But I gained a really warm, cosy jumper and I've hardly taken it off since I made it.

And I've since been back to Rathdowne and stocked up on more super thick wool knits. Easier than learning to knit!

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Birthday t-shirt time

You might have noticed that I'm pretty fond of sewing t-shirts and if I can get the chance to cut a stencil and stick something on the front I'm even happier.

And it's June, which means it's the big kid's birthday t-shirt time.

This year he wanted a flying soccer ball. Actually, he wanted a flaming soccer ball but I kind of interpreted that  in my own way which was more monochromatic. And easier to reconcile with my stash of iron on vinyl. I chose iron-on vinyl over fabric paint as the ball had to be white

I really wanted it to be reflective silver, but he vetoed that :( 

After a bit of dabbling with my friend's Cricut machine last year, I was now going back to my roots and wielding a scalpel.

I downloaded an image, traced it in grey lead pencil, transferred the tracing to the vinyl by rubbing the back, went over the lines to make them clearer, then hand cut it. Once it was cut. it was just a matter of getting all the bits to line up as exactly as possible and then be ironed in place.

The t-shirt is the Oliver + S School Bus t-shirt. I'm pretty sure it's size 12 as per the recent pyjamas, but I've no idea where I put that tracing, and now I'm wondering if I pulled out the size 10 tracing instead. I need to blog faster or make better contemporaneous sewing notes!

What I do know is that I added about 3" to the length and a whopping 5" to the sleeves!

He knew I was going to make him this t-shirt for his birthday although he didn't know which fabric I was going to use. When I found this lovely, soft, cotton lycra in the stash I also found a 1m cut of fabric I'd bought at Spotlight with the intention of making a t-shirt for him.

So I made another.

Given how much length I need to add to a sleeve pattern to get long sleeves, I didn't have enough of this fabric. Which is a pity as it's nice and soft too, and would make a lovely winter t-shirt. I have added about 2" to the short sleeve cut line for this version.

I have been pleasantly surprised by some of Spotlight's printed cotton knits. The quality and designs have really improved over the last few years. Sadly, they're always fairly narrow fabrics compared to the more "usual" 150cm wide European knits.

I couldn't pass up skateboarding cacti in sunglasses!

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Covid critters

With our dining table, which I normally claim as my sewing table, having to also be a homeschool table, my sewing time has been seriously restricted.

Yet I seem to have had endless hours to crochet pointless critters. Here's our underwater Covid19 critter collection:

It all started with Hermie the Hermit Crab.

He became our Covid19 Shelter-In-Place mascot. Hermit crabs being very good at that. :)

Hermie was made entirely with oddments of yarn that I had lying around. Ages ago my husband's aunt made a crochet blanket for our daughter and she included the yarn leftovers when she posted it (as if, at that time, I might have possessed the skills to make any running repairs! Ha!)

That's why his legs are a little more "sun tanned" than his body

Working with what was to hand, I made his shell out of variegated hemp twine. It was hellish on my hands to crochet but I love the effect as a shell texture/colour.

The shell is then "lined" with a cashmere/cotton blend (leftover from the mice). First time around it came out much too small, so i just changed hook size and made it again. That's what you do when you're stuck at hone and your sewing table has been turned into a school desk and you're overseeing spelling and algebra.

It's incredibly snuggly inside and I think any hermit crab would be delighted to call it home.

Back in May when we were under stricter lockdown conditions than now, and the only reason we could find to go outdoors was exercise, we took Hermie on a bike ride to the beach.

We snuck him into a musette and took him to the beach for a photoshoot.

He was a very good model and luckily no seagulls thought him realistic enough to be worth investigating!

Just before homeschool was ending and the kids were looking to go back to "proper" school, P had the assignment of creating a comic strip or stop motion animation. This was Hermie's chance to shine, so P made a series of "Hermie's Adventures" videos.

Here's Hermie checking his CrabSafe app on his mobile device...

And testing the waters as to whether it's time to come out of his shell...

Then Hermie sat on a window ledge and oversaw homeschool/home office for a while.

I crocheted some budgerigars whom you've already met, sewed a couple of shirts and various other things (yet to be blogged)....

Then the pull of the couch and crochet-in-front-of-the-TV drew me back. What's more; now I had all these leftover yarns from the budgerigars to use up, right?!

The jellyfish came next. It was a lot of fun to make, but mostly fun to try and photograph in action with his tentacles swirling dangerously...

After the jellyfish came an aborted attempt at a seahorse. I think I was misreading the pattern and assuming every round should start with a chain and finish with a slip stitch. Whereas it was, simply, a growing spiral of never ending rounds as per the pattern instructions.

But while I was ripping out the seahorse, I posted Hermie's videos to Instagram and discovered a 4 year old fan of sea creatures and admirer of my crochet.

Since I'm all about the making, and never about the having, I new I had a recipient for even more sea creatures. Licence to crochet!!

Next up was Mr Starfish:

I began with the same mistake I'd been making on the seahorse, but it quickly became apparent that his legs and spots weren't going to line up, so that error was picked up much earlier.

He's made from a mostly swan bill orange (swan reveal pending), with a bit of budgie breast for his underneath and some budgie beak for the highlights. A very satisfying use of remnants.

So I posted the starfish and the jellyfish off to my new 4 year old bestie on Monday and they arrived already by Tuesday and it seems he was delighted. Awesome!

I wish I could say, truthfully, that this was the end of the sea creatures...

But I can't. Just in the last few nights I've used a bit of budgie purple and the last of that budgie breast to make a sea anemone. Here's his Instagram photo feature as he probably won't warrant a blog photoshoot of his own:

As addictive as this has been. The kids are back at school and I've got plenty of ideas of things I want to sew. I might be returning to the "normality" that is crazy amounts of sewing instead of crocheting sea creatures*.

All the patterns used in this blogpost come from the book Crochet Sea Creatures by Vanessa Mooncie (Booktopia link) and the yarns are mostly 4ply cotton from Scheepjes via Bellemae Yarns

* Who am I kidding? I mean, have you seen that Octopus? How cool is that?!

Monday, 15 June 2020

A tale of two shirts

With a blog post title like that you could be forgiven for expecting some great piece of literature might follow. I apologise now, in advance of your disappointment.

It continues to be the best of times for some and the worst of times for others. I'm not going to discuss the situation of racism in our country and the recent manifestations against it, other than to say this: Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody concluded in 1991 we have had 29 years, over 10,000 days, in which to make it clear that the situation is unbearable and must change.
It's not a question of whether protests should go ahead, on a certain day, with Coronavirus restrictions. It's a question of what the hell have we been doing every other day that has allowed the current situation to prevail.

While the real woman behind the sewing alter ego seethes with anger and roils with shame, Lightning McStitch is now going to blather on about sewing some shirts...


............and let's let her start with a drink in hand

When Coronavirus lockdowns first started happening there were plenty of Frocktails events that had to be cancelled.

Our compatriots up in Sydney joined forces with a few of the US Frocktails events and hosted a virtual frocktails event in lieu of their planned parties.

I'd suddenly been consumed with the urge to sew myself some button up shirts and thought I'd try out both the Liesl + Co Camp Shirt and the Classic Shirt. I've already sewn the Recital Shirt (both ways) and love it. I was curious to see how these two would compare.

For my virtual Frocktails outfit I sewed the Camp Shirt in this metallic coated cotton that I'd picked up in ClearIt some time earlier. I'd had it earmarked for a different pattern (V1414), but that one would have the reverse side show, and the fabric is a very dull beige on the back.

I thought the lux pyjama vibe of the Camp shirt in this fabric would be fun. An old friend described this look as "pissy rich 70's housewife" which cracked me up. But having always wanted to dress up as Margo Leadbetter from The Good Life I was also delighted (for the record I wanted to be Barbara with all the chickens and goats but I wanted to dress up like Margo)

She was on the money with the 70's comment as the skirt pattern is a 70's original. I still need to hand sew a hook and eye at the back and close the belt properly, and it deserves a blog post of it's own come summer time.

The Camp Shirt turned out to be perfect for this fabric with its relaxed, one piece collar. It's much more a blouse than a shirt and I've been wearing it with jeans and it works just fine like that too.

It's a straight size 10 as per my measurements with no alterations. Amazingly I had he perfect buttons in my stash, even with slightly smaller ones for the sleeve plackets.

The Classic Shirt lay cut out for quite some time, and then for some time afterwards was sewn, but was waiting for buttons...

This was a cotton/poplin that I'd bought at Rathdowne Fabrics ages ago with probably the intention for it to one day become a shirt. I'm not sure if I'd thought that would be for me, as I never usually wear purple, but suddenly there it was, also cut out, and ready to be my Classic Shirt.

Again I made a straight size 10, but something possessed me to lower the bust dart by half an inch on this shirt (but not the other?!). I think I must have been wearing my Gelato Blouse which does seem to have an oddly high bust dart compared to other Liesl + Co patterns. Either that or I was just feeling a bit old and saggy and figured I might need to start making some kind of sewing concessions for my boobs... I don't know. But I needn't have done it. The bust dart is under the chest pockets so it doesn't matter that it's too low, but it is. It should be 1/2" higher, or exactly where it was before I moved it.

I'm keen to track down a nice, textured white cotton and make the perfect white shirt. I think it would be the front and collar of this shirt with the more fitted back of the Recital Shirt. It's cool that the pattern pieces are interchangeable in that way.

Doing business through the postal service during lockdown, I bought the perfect buttons from Buttonmania. Square purple buttons (not something I had in my stash!), with smaller round ones for the sleeve plackets.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Pyjama time: episode two

Ever since I first saw Jalie 3244, I'd always wondered about a footed, onesie pyjama pattern that could fit the whole family and what kind of nutjob family would ever want to buy such a pattern.

Of course I bought it, but only because I had an awesome idea for costumes for the whole family for Melburn Roobaix. (Which is, sadly, corona-cancelled for this year.)

The kids loved the idea of onesies as pyjamas so out came the pattern anyway. I traced off just the one size, size O (and not one for Flipper or myself, so you can give up on the blog post now if you like!)

Both kids are roughly the same size in every regard except height and limb length.

Hers is a straight size O with no modifications to size and it's great. Not ridiculously oversized but I can see it should get a few seasons of growth, especially if her limbs start to catch up with her torso length.

His is size O but with length to sleeves, torso and legs. Of course I should have thought that by adding torso length I would maybe not need to add so much leg length, but I just went with exactly the discrepancy between his measurements and the size O measurement chart.

So, for my records, that was: 8cm torso length to front and back (his torso loop length was 15cm> pattern). 8cm leg length and 10cm sleeve length.
It's super baggy in crotch and leg length with a good arm length, but I bet that's what he outgrows first!

For each onesie I needed 1.5m of fabric, assuming it was around 150cm wide. I was keen to use a cotton lycra (95% cotton, 5% spandex) but didn't have any cuts that big in my stash. So I went online shopping.

All the really cool euro knits would have been great, but I was being too tight to fork out more than $50 in fabric costs alone for each onesie.... I ended up buying both fabrics at a much more agreeable price from Lush Fabrics.

This one feels fairly nice, not awesome, but fairly nice. It has good recovery, but I don't think it's cotton at all. I suspect it fell into the cotton knits category because the rabbit character gives the fabric the name "cotton tail" and that might be what tricks the store category search? I dunno, maybe it is a cotton lycra... Edit: listing says it is: cotton-tail-in-blue

The print is really sweet.

P's fabric on the other hand is not so nice at all. It has a hard hand, this weird, slubby texture, very little recovery and the print opens up to the background fabric when stretched. We both agreed we really liked the colour and the print and since we had it we might as well sew it up. He's been wearing it every night it's not been in the wash so it's not like it's terrible. Yet it was a bit disappointing. I always prefer to feel knits before buying, and I think if the price is below $30/m I might need to stick to that rule!

We hunted through the ribbings stash and found some that matched nicely. Red and grey were their choices and lo and behold, the stash delivered.

What I didn't have, and wasn't prepared to buy, were zippers. I also figured that a long zip might bend and buckle weirdly when you're sleeping. Instead I fashioned a little button placket and used snaps with my big bench mounted snap press. I don't mind sewing in a zipper but this is definitely quicker and easier.

The kids are delighted with them and have now declared they want another one each, but this time with the feet sewn in option.

When I cut and sew those, I'll upload some more details about the placket variation and how to sew it in.

Meanwhile I think that's it. Except for all the outtakes. :)

Pattern: Jalie 3244
Fabrics: Cotton lycra (hmmm) from Lush Fabrics
Size: O with length mods for him
Modifications: 2cm wide button placket instead of zip.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Secret Sewist Gift Exchange

It's no secret that I can't resist joining in a secret crafty gift exchange. I was so enamoured of Sanae and Ute's Secret Valentine Gift Exchange that I ran with it for 11 months last year after it was officially wound up.

So when Caz (Useful Box) suggested a gift exchange to keep ourselves amused during Covid19 lockdown, I signed up straight away.

To keep things simple, and maybe to warn off people like me who get carried away, there were three suggested patterns:

The Bombazine oven mitt, The Apertio Pouch and the Fibresmith Cloth Pot, all of which are free, downloadable patterns.

My secret sewist gift recipient had said she liked navy with mustard or dusty pink and didn't care which project I chose.

That suited my stash of fabrics well and I figured was a great opportunity to play with the Wefty needle I'd bought ages ago.

I first learned of fabric weaving when Mr Domestic made this amazing trench coat for his duaghter and shared it on the Oliver + S blog. A little while later he also contributed a tutorial on fabric weaving. I bought the Wefty needle and then never used it.

I decided to make like I knew what I was doing and use 1cm strips (apparently for "advanced" weavers) on my first try. I had some solid navy quilting cotton, a check shirting and an uneven painted stripe woven along with some mustard yellow lawn.

I figured there's nothing worse than an oven mitt hat doesn't insulate well, so I batted this puppy up. There's one layer of wool melton and two layers of wool quilt batting on each side. I'd also stalked my giftee enough to learn that she's a smaller human and so I figured even if my oven mitt turned out a bit small due to its thickness that wouldn't be a worry. Unless she was a smallish human with enormously oversized hands! :)

I was completely delighted with the weaving, but once I sewed it into the oven mitt, with all that insulation and then turned it right side out, the weaving got a bit munted up. It really bothered me and I was ready to bin it and start over....

But then I sat on the couch, picked up some mustard yellow linen yarn that Sarvi sent me, and some macrame rope and crocheted a mat to go with it. Then I figured I had a gift worth giving.

Some yellow roses came off the bush (and that, fortunately, turns out to be my recipients favourite type of rose) and I did and knock and run delivery this afternoon. Fun!