Monday, 8 October 2018

Banksia dress

This one is jumping the blogging queue as it was a dress in a hurry...

The fabric arrived in the post Friday. I washed and dried it that evening (yay for Spring), cut it that night and sewed it up Saturday night. Worn on Sunday and now hitting the blog on Monday.

For all the speed in which it was made, it wasn't a dress that I had planned, or particularly desired... It came about like this: A friend and work colleague commented on a Gorman clothing post on Instagram wondering if I could make something like the dress she liked.

Well of course, it was a simple sleeveless bodice with a gathered skirt. And, of course, I'm heavily into procrastinating as I have a Frocktails dress that needs to be made, so could I be distracted by her project? Absolutely I could.

The fabric was the first thing to find. I discovered Nerida Hansen which is a website that collaborates with designers to release little curated batches of printed fabrics.  The one pictured above, top right, was my friend's pick. I added some of this banksia print by Jocelyn Proust for myself. There seemed to only be two substrates available, a mid-weight cotton (what I've used) and a heavier linen.

Since we're about the same size I figured I could make a version for me, then she could try it on and her version could be adjusted as necessary.

The pattern in the Felicia Pinafore by Tessuti. I might not have bought a pattern for something like this, but like teaching a man to fish, I'd rather make one dress, then pass the pattern on to the friend, direct them to a local sewing school and let them go on to discover how easy it really is!

The photos get pretty "real" from this point on as I just wanted to talk more about the pattern than the lovely fabric. Apologies for crappy back lane weeds and all.

I went into Tessuti to buy the pattern in paper format and they had the pinafore made up in a size S which fitted perfectly. The waistline is quite low and on the Tessuti version it hit about 1cm below my navel.

When it came time to cut out the fabric I realised my 147cm wide, 2m cut wasn't quite enough. Annoyingly, there is a discrepancy on the Tessuti website here: It says  for size S using 140cm wide fabric you need 1.9m (let's ignore the 112cm wide skinny fabric option also given). 2m should have been plenty and let's not forget I am a cutting ninja ;)

On the pattern the fabric requirement is printed as 150cm wide fabric, not 140cm wide. The cutting layout is also for 150cm. Well not many woven fabrics come 150cm wide so that's a pretty useless yardage list. On a 147cm (or more standard 144cm) wide fabric you need about 20-30cm extra. Closer to 2.2m

Or, as I did, you just shorten the bodice by about 1cm (bringing back up to navel height anyway) and then shorten the skirt by about 1&1/2"

It's still plenty long enough and I suspect my colleague's version will go shorter still.

It was my first time using a Tessuti pattern and I was slightly dismayed by the heavy paper and sketchy, handwritten style of the pattern sheet. For a $25 pattern it looks a bit amateurish.  The instructions, however, are concise and clear and are accompanied with colour photographs. For a new sewist, like the one I'm planning to pass it on to, I think it will be a great pattern. I don't mind photographs instead of illustrations at all when their already printed but I hate sewing from a computer screen or working from black and white versions of colour photographs - I suspect if you printed at home and scrimped on the coloured ink you'd have a had time making out the images.

I ignored the instructions to use tear away Vilene stabiliser and just staystitched the neckline and armholes. The facings were perfectly drafted and that all came together very nicely. I haven't had to move the bust dart and the bodice is great, and certainly one I'd use again. The skirt is a rectangle with pockets. Nothing more to say,I guess.

Except that, the gathered skirt, in my cotton is a bit poofy and tent like. I think the one I tried on in the fabric shop might have been a crinkle linen or something with more hanging drape as I don't recall it feeling like maternity wear. The think that saves it from maternity wear is the dropped/natural waist.

While it's not an entirely flattering silhouette, on a hot day, after a big lunch, it's going to be the perfect dress to be wearing.

I thought putting my hands in my pockets gave it a nicer silhouette, but Flipper said no, not really...

Then I tried to point how, when I walk the fabric tends to move forward and create even more overeating-belly room...

But he just thought I was flexing and showing off, so then things got really silly...

The Felicia Pinafore Dress: If you're new to sewing, go for it. If you don't have a sleeveless bodice, or have a fear of facings, then go for it. For everyone else, you can almost certainly do without this one in your stash
Nerida Hansen Print and Textiles: If you like a bold print then yes! They have permanently free shipping in Aus, very reasonable prices and were quick on the postage. Cotton is always fun and easy to sew. I suspect the linen may be more a home dec weight, but could be awesome for a jacket!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Simple elastic waist skirt tutorial

Hello, I've got a lovely, quick, easy tutorial over on the Oliver + S blog.

Click on the picture link below to check out how simple it is to sew a nice, twirly, neatly finished skirt with an exposed elastic waistband

Here we'll keep it real and talk about what didn't work so well, right?

I ordered a few 1 yard cuts of fun, wide elastics from Strap Crafts, a Hong Kong based store with a huge range of interesting wide elastics and very reasonable shipping to Aus.

Rummaging around in the fabric stash for what would work well with this 2" wide, glittery silver elastic I found some of Topbike Physio's mum's stash fabrics that was perfect. A lightweight, breezy, summery synthetic knit in blue with tiny silvery white dots.

There was just enough to cut this part circle skirt using the Building Block Dress Book pattern (the size 6 width, 7 length already traced off) and a little singlet based on the size 8 School Bus T-shirt.

To turn the t-shirt into a singlet I reduced the shoulder width back to the point where the notch is marked on the pattern. I raised the underarm by about 1/2" - which it turns out I shouldn't have done. then I sewed a band just like the neckband to finish the edge.

The armpits are a bit high but she's hasn't complained and has worn it a few times already. For next time, I'd leave the armscye depth alone, but shave a bit more width out in the upper chest. It's not helped in these photos by her accidentally wearing the top back to front. That doesn't change the arm line but the front neck, which I lowered by 3/4" would look better at the front.

But here it is at the back, and a demonstration of the lovely twirl of the part circle skirt.

This outfit has proved to be a real winner and since it was so easy to make I can see a few more two piece spectaculars using exposed elastic and stash fabric being made this summer.

Bring on the warm weather!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Ears, beaks, tops and leggings

A quick round up of a few little projects that otherwise wouldn't make it to the blog.

Book week was last month and the kids both agreed to go as the two main characters from the book we were currently reading together: The Wonderling by Mira Bartok


The book follows the adventures of a couple of  orphan "groundlings" which are part human part animal creatures. Arthur is a fox groundling with one very large ear and the superpower of amazing hearing. Trinket is his little bird friend who is an inventing genius and does amazing things with her beak. - "It's all in the beak, Arthur, all in the beak"

I won't go into a book review except to say that it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and the kids got very involved in the story. I've seen the book described as Dickensian, but I felt that one section was so derivative that I am prompted to read the kids Oliver Twist and see where they think the line sits...

Anyway to costumes: P was Arthur, a formerly un-named orphan known only by his Number 13 tag around his neck. We made that from some metal cut from an aluminium can (Flipper obligingly drank a Coke to help out the kids in their crafting) and then all he needed was one big ear.

The stash bucket yielded some foxy coloured fleece knits and a headband to cover. His favourite hoodie is looking suitably old, faded and torn now. Teemed with a foxy coloured Parachute Polo and some Field Trip cargo pants and he was sorted.

As a bird, Trinket struck me as very Kiwi like. I had a bit of my bird plumage brown knit fabric left from when I dressed as a scrub hen for the theatre (if you're new to the blog that sentence might surprise you, but that's how we roll).

Just enough for a long sleeved Tee and some leggings. The body of the T-shirt is pieced in a few spots but the pattern is so busy you'd never notice.

Forgive me a little boasting but I am quite proud of that beak! :) It's a styrofoam cucumber that came from the local, weird $2 asian shop that sells all sorts of stuff you never knew you needed. Among the kitchen utensils and placemats were these fake vegetables on strings. A raffia string with five long, green cucumbers attached was just what I needed. A bit of brown paint, a single cone from an egg carton and some elastic and we had a very kiwi-esque beak. The funny, frizzy hair extensions on bobby pins also came from that shop and make perfect fluffy bird bits on head and tail.

The only downside is A has decided the other four cucumbers on their string are "lovely" and insists on hanging them in her bedroom. Sigh.

Pattern wise the top is the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt, size 8, with the neckband made into a higher skivvy neck with a slight cowl twist. The leggings are from a Japanese pattern book and I'd previously made another pair so the pattern tracing was already out.

They're size 130cm which is her height and measurements but they're really long. For the bird ones I just left them long, as I'm sure kiwis have slightly wrinkly ankles, right?

But for these blue ones I'd thought it would be fun to try and gather them and use some of this vertical bow ribbon that I've had in the stash for ages.

This leggings pattern was tried to see if it solved some of the crotch fit issues of the jeggings I'd made based on the Oliver + S Playtime leggings. It doesn't really, so I'm thinking the Jalie Eleonore pull-on jeans might be the pattern for stretch jeans/jeggings. Of course that's one I don't (yet) own. But that's also how I roll.... right?

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Nana pants mark 2

I only went in to Fabric Deluxe to get thread you know...

And there I found the perfect heavy knit fabric for more pull on pants. the kind of hefty nana-ish knit I was talking about back when I made these lighter weight ponte pull on pants.

But these ones aren't the same pattern (the others were V9284). This time I tried out the Anne Klein Vogue pattern V1517

How did I discover I had a second pattern for seamed, pull on knit pants? Well, I ended up with a few really lovely hides of navy leather at a very cheap price and suddenly remembered I had a pattern for a leather jacket. Lo and behold the same pattern yielded some pull on pants. How did I come to score a pile of leather hides? Well I went out to Eliza's to try and get a zipper.... :) (you know how it goes)

So I got my thread (and my zipper and leather) and then bought some of this heavy weight knit. It's a charcoal grey rib on one face and a matte black, smooth ponte type on the reverse. It was somewhat narrower than the average knit at only 135cm and I was keen to avoid any leftovers. I plumped for 1.25m after reading, then disregarding, the pattern fabric requirements on my phone at the store. (it only lists 150cm wide knit and suggests 1.6m).

I traced the size 12 (after measuring exactly as per the size 14 - but I'm learning) and then overlaid the pattern pieces from the V9284 pants. The legs looked very similar but the rise was much shorter on these ones. So I added 1" depth at the crotch lengthen/shorten line and another 1" length at the lower leg lengthen/shorten line. And with those changes it just fit on my fabric with nothing left to spare. (I had to cut some pieces upside down and if direction mattered you'd need 150cm wide fabric or to double the yardage)

Size and fit wise I think I was mostly correct. Certainly sizing down was right and I think the extra length at both positions was a good call. I love how the back rise of my other pants allows me to cycle without looking like a tradie who's lost his driver's license. These ones afford a similar coverage now.

The back seams are set a bit too far to the sides from above the knee. They're fairly centered on my calves but need to come more to the midline from there up. The only other review I could find of these pants suggested the same thing.

They're certainly comfortable and while they suffer the same existential crisis as my other pull-on pants (real pants or trackpants - what are you?) I've been wearing them around the house as well as out once and they're not half bad.

The waistband is 2" wide elastic which is sewn to the inside and left exposed. I cut it a good inch shorter than the pattern piece and it's perfect - although maybe I should have taken in that centre back seam first to avoid those pucker-y gathers.

I thought I had 2" wide elastic in my stash, but it was only 1.5" and that wouldn't have covered the waistband seam allowances. I dashed out to Vo-Le where she had exactly what I needed at only $1.50/m (best table tennis and sewing notions shop in the world!)

The pattern was very quick to sew. I used the overlocker for all the seams then the twin needle to edgestitch/topstitch the front and back seams and hem the waistband and ankles.

I think these pants are occupying that middle ground where they don't look like activewear, or trackpants, but they're not formal, proper trousers either. They're nana pants and I'm liking them. But I do wonder if my mum might like them more.... ;)

Of course I traced off the jacket pattern and that will need a muslin or two before chopping into my leather. Perhaps that can be my Frocktails jacket in case of cold weather. Are you coming to Frocktails? Have an outfit plan yet?

Pattern: Vogue V1517
Size: 12
Fabric: ribbed double knit from fabric Deluxe
Modifications: 1" extra rise length, 1" extra lower leg length

Notions:2" wide waistband elastic, thread.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Bomber Jackets and that awesome ribbing

Each time I pull a bit of fabric out of my stash I find other bits and am reminded of an idea I might have once had....

Bomber jacket time!

It was this shiny, brown, patterned faux leather that got me started on the bomber jackets for kids idea. When I re-discovered it in the stash and decided it was all wrong for my pencil skirt, I showed it to A and she went nuts for it.

I already had a kids bomber jacket pattern in McCalls M7619, and I had lining fabric. All I needed was the ribbing for the cuffs...

I'd been seeing the Albstoffe cuffs on instagram and decided they would be perfect. My dealer for all things hip like that is Maaidesign and while I'm not sure if hers are actually the same brand, they're awesome all the same.

Of course that left me having to choose which cuffs to use, so I bought two different ones and made a bomber jacket for P as well!

His fabric was also pulled from the stash. It's a wool that almost feels like a felt, not as thick as a regular melton or coat weight. Knowing he feels the cold I underlined it with some fleece interfacing and then lined it in black.

To use the ribbing for the neckline required it to be wider than the pattern's intended neckband. the ribbing has a distinct fold line in the middle where the weave changes. Which is perfect for a good fold but means you can't really change the width without unbalancing the stripes.

I'm not sure the jacket needed it but this funny alpaca with it's gold "hello" was at Spotlight and A was keen for it to go on her jacket. Sure, why not. I hand stitched it to the front panel before constructing the jacket.

And so P got a giant fluffy letter P which came from Eliza's for only 50cents (only about 4 letters in the middle of the alphabet were available). Flipper informs me I've put it on the wrong side but I thought the shape of the P looked nicer facing in - in other words, meh, who cares.

Both zippers came from Jimmy's buttons and I took to them with pliers to shorten them and reapply the metal stoppers.

The sewing was pretty straightforward. The pattern is fairly basic and a here's a tip for anyone making this version with the external front pockets. After sewing one side of the zipper in, close the zipper and mark every point where there is a seam (or a stripe in your ribbing!). There's nothing worse than a jacket that closes with wonky pocket lines - go back and have a look at the pattern cover photo of the boy's jacket and you'll see what I mean.

The pattern has you stitch the lining to the bottom ribbing waistband and then hand sew the whole front, neckline and sleeve cuffs by hand. After doing A's jacket that way I thought I'd figure out some way of bagging the lining, but then I couldn't be bothered and hand sewed P's as well. Sometimes it's easier to turn the brain off, the telly on, and just stitch.

A's jacket has these side seam pockets which are kind of like patch pockets only applied under the jacket front rather than on top. It took her a while to even realise they were there!

I measured the pattern pieces for the neckband, cuffs and waistband and discovered I would need two lengths of each cuff ribbing. From one length is the waistband and the other length yielded the neckband and two sleeve cuffs. The sleeve cuffs are a bit big on A but to gather the jacket sleeve to a smaller cuff would have been very tricky to sew.

The jacket sleeve has quite a nice shape with the outer back sleeve being slightly longer than the inner front sleeve.

Working with my small remnant of grey wool I added as much sleeve length as possible to P's version: which was barely 2cm extra length. It's just long enough for monkey boy this year but I suspect it will be "bracelet" length before too long.

Both jackets look really great on the kids and I'm pretty pleased to have used up some odd bits of stashed fabric and to have finally had a play with these awesome ribbings.

The ribbing weight is perfect for jackets - similar to what is often described as 2x2 ribbing. It's hard to photograph, but the pale gold is really lovely. I worried it might be a bit girly for P but he adores his blingy gold jacket :)

I stitched the labels on by machine so that the stitching is through all fabric layers - just in case my hand stitching of the lining at the neckline wasn't secure enough.

We were on our way down to the fruit and veg market and stopped at the local university campus where there's this lovely mural of birds - I mention this one because it's the red wattlebird and at this time of year it (or its other wattlebird species relatives) is the nemesis of every Melbournian who might like to sleep past 5am.

At our house it's known as the "hoo ha hee ha" bird as its call sounds like that, over and over again.
Here's a audio of the "Melbourne alarm clock bird" and , if you don't mind bad language, a very funny discussion about how to try and live with them (because you can't kill them).

Pattern: McCalls M7619
Fabric: A - fake snakeskin pleather, bemberg lining. P - wool coating, fleece interfacing, rayon lining
Size: A - straight size 8. P - size 10 with 2cm extra sleeve length
Modifications: Cut neckband to suit ribbing width
Notions: Ribbing from Maaidesign. Zippers from Jimmy's Buttons. Patches: Spotlight and Eliza's

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 ;) )