Saturday 25 May 2013

I can't cook.....

But when something "fails" like this, I really don't give a shit!

I'm gonna make it in the movies!

 Does size matter?

Well, sometimes yes. The sheer enormity of this bit of fabric made for some interesting sewing.

Exhibit A: A 5metre x 3metre piece of cinema screen fabric. Neatly folded it looks quite manageable.

My task: To construct some tabs and attach them to the screen such that it can be pulled over a frame and tensioned.

Here's a plan. Of sorts.
I actually enjoyed technical drawing when I was a schoolkid, although there's nothing here to indicate that.

And it was all very well to tell myself I'd attach those long side straps at 1/6ths intervals but there was no way I could accurately measure this huge pile of fabric, so I wrestled it into some kind of symmetrical folds which may, or may not, be close to where they were meant to be.

The straps were made from some leftover canvas from my Puppet Theatre.

Luckily, we live in one of those former industrial areas where the house prices are still low(ish) and there are handy businesses nearby such as the canvas shop that put these eyelets in for me.

Blessedly there's enough other BoBos around that the coffee is superb and the fruit and veg organic! What a neighbourhood.

 So, I attached 20 straps with eyelets to various points (symmetrical if nothing else) around this enormous canvas.

There's no long arm sewing machine in the world that could make that into an easy task, and there was no way I could cram even a fraction of it around the sewing arm of my little Janome.

I got there in the end, and in the style of the movie marathons that this screen is destined to  display I finished up very, very late.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

More Pyjamas!

 Over a wintry, rainy weekend the Bernina 700D and I got to know each other.

I'd had an excellent demonstration of how to do everything by the salesman at the shop but I worked through the instruction manual as well. After much fiddling and a few dozen test runs I had the tensions all correct, the blade position right and the differential feed all set for the cotton knit I was about to sew.

I had to stop every so often to answer Flipper's questions about how many things I'd made so far. I guess I must have said an overlocker would make me faster...

Once I was onto the T-shirt construction I did fly along. Until I kept unthreading my lower looper by pulling the threads at the end of stitching just like I do with my sewing machine. Lesson learnt. Just let it run. I am now quite proficient at rethreading the looper threads so a useful lesson, although a little frustrating.

Then I had a little practice at unpicking overlocker sewing, after sewing one sleeve cuff onto the wrong side of the sleeve. That wasn't so easy, so A's sleeves and cuffs are fractionally shorter than intended. But perfect for it I say!

I used Made By Rae's Flashback Skinny T pattern for the tops. There's a few options for the cuff and I thought these wider cuffs looked perfect for pyjama tops. I didn't really follow the instructions (in fact I stapled them together in the wrong order which may have put me off somewhat) but the pattern and instructions are superb and the end result is a really great long sleeve T.  I'm already imagining printed, long sleeve T-shirts, short sleeve T-shirts and even, maybe a turtleneck or skivvy...

I sewed the T-shirts using the overlocker, and only used the sewing machine (which purrs so sweetly now that it's been oiled that I really feel bad for how it used to scream at me and how I used to ignore it) for the hems.
I am so pleased with having seams that look this professional it's absurd. There's no gaping on the right side and the stitch has plenty of stretch in it, so I'm happy to use the overlocker alone for knit sewing. I attached the neck band with the overlocker too which worked perfectly, although this was during my lower looper unthreading moments so there are some wobblier bits on these neck bands.

I should make a note to myself that I could have made these neck bands a wee bit longer as there is a bit of gathering effect at the neck line. Although I much prefer that to the gape-y loose neck band I did here (that one needs shortening a bit)

 The pyjama pants were the Sleepover pants again, but this time without any fancy cuffs. I just added 1 inch to the leg length to then make a 5/8ths inch narrow hem.

There's enough length there for a bit of growing room.

After making my lovely plain white T-shirts I cut holes in them!

I put a scrap of the flannel fabric behind the T-shirt, holding it up to the window to see through and get the placement right, then stitched the two together with a narrow zig zag stitch, then simply chopped away the T-shirt fabric. Reverse applique for the lazy sewist?

I've done this a couple of times on cheap, plain store bought T-shirts and felt very clever. Now I can make the T-shirt AND the hole in the middle.

While the sewing machine was away for repairs I cut out two dresses for me (aaaah! I never sew for me, too scary) as well as a winter coat for P. The coat will probably be next to be sewn, but meanwhile a friend has delivered the single largest and most expensive piece of fabric I've ever seen and requested my sewing help.

Should be fun. Can anyone else say they've sewn a movie screen? Here's hoping I don't stuff it up!

Friday 17 May 2013

Bring... Bring.... Honey, do you think you could give me a ride home tonight?

So here's my commuter bike (bicycle number 5 to rate a mention on the blog), sporting it's new rear mud guard that was my birthday present from Flipper (thanks honey, my dry butt loves you).

The bike was a treat to myself when I was heavily pregnant and had just moved house and discovered my new commute had some hills! My old commuter was a steel single speed and there's no way I was going to be able to crank that one gear up the gentle inclines on my 13km commute with my big belly and all.

What better excuse for a new bike. Keeping it real with an On One Pompetamine steel frame, internal 8 speed Alfine rear hub (no maintenance, yay!) and some nice disc brakes for those wet road, holy f*&k what's that motorist doing moments.

What's that in the foreground I hear you ask? You mean you don't want to know more about my bike? ...
The Janome sewing machine is all cleaned, oiled and adjusted, and yes, it looks like it might have a companion there with a brand new, Bernina 700D overlocker.

And so a lift home in the car was in order, but now I feel like I've finally succumbed to the kid's cold and my machines will have to wait to be played with another day. Off to bed....

Thursday 16 May 2013

All quiet on the home front

After 5 years of very steady service I decided the sewing machine might, finally, need a service. There's nothing wrong with it but it was getting pretty noisy and it dawned on me that at our house a bicycle chain gets regular lubricating, and a race bike would get cleaned and cared for after every outing. So how is it that the sewing machine has gone 5 years without a drop of oil?

Sheer neglect I'm afraid.

So, it's spookily quiet at home with the sewing machine gone for the week.

The last garments that I dry-motor rattled through were these pyjamas for the kids:

Here, I'm trying to relive a childhood memory of heating our pyjamas in the airing cupboard behind the fireplace. Unfortunately a heated towel rack (that came free with our house purchase) just doesn't cut it and there's none of that scalding button toasty hotness here. For safety's sake that's probably a good thing, but gee those hot jammies felt good.

Hot or barely lukewarm, these pyjamas still feel awesome. For the first time I bought some Michael Miller flannel online from and it is divine. To date, the only flannel I've had is Woollies by Maywood studio (here) and this lovely fabric. I think I may have spoiled myself.

The pattern was a pattern bust that I've been wanting to get onto for ages. The Oliver + S Sleepover pyjamas. It goes without saying that they were a delight to sew. The girly ruffles is a fun addition and I was super happy about stepping out to the shed and popping in the snaps in five minutes. No way I could have done nine buttonholes and nine buttons as quickly or as joyfully. The only thing I need to do is go back and tack up the pants cuffs in a few more spots as they keep unfolding.

These pyjamas have been a rare success in that both kids absolutely LOVE them. They've been worn every night since they were finished. I was reading sewing blogs and read Once Upon A Sewing Machine's post about what gets worn and what doesn't and couldn't bring myself to respond as it all gets a bit depressing. Until of course I think, screw the kids I'm sewing to amuse myself. At least with these pyjamas, they were needed (sorely!), pattern bust achieved, I had fun, and the kids are super happy with them.

And with the sewing machine away for a week I've had time to think.... Imagine how I could churn out the pyjamas if I bought the Flashback Skinny T-shirt pattern and combined it with the Sleepover pants. And maybe, just maybe, what if the overlocker that I spied at the sewing machine repair centre was to come home with me......

Sunday 12 May 2013

Sewing for Me......

I never usually sew for myself. There were some disastrously big cotton maternity dresses that may have put me off. They've now been cut up and repurposed so I've moved on from that disappointing exercise.

I suppose I like sewing for my kids so much because they're flat, shapeless little creatures, and the fabric is cheap. Adult sewing strikes me as difficult and costly.

When I saw this cape it seemed a project worth a try.

Here's my cape:

I bought some lovely cream/grey pattern wool coating from The Fabric Store as well as some slippery lining. I've used the cheap polyester lining from Spotlight before and at $2-3 a metre it seemed worth putting up with. This lining was about six times more expensive but I am absolutely a convert. It almost doesn't fray at all, is delightful to cut and sew and just feels so lovely by comparison. No more nasty, shiny linings for me.

I found some perfect leather covered buttons at Jimmy's Buttons ( a chaotic, treasure trove of buttons and trims). I purchased the amount of fabric specified on the pattern but then found that since I could cut my pattern in either direction along the grain I only used half of what I purchased. Liesl + Co have a matching pattern for a girl's cape, but the whole mother/daughter matchy thing makes me squirm. I'll sit on it a while. Fabric never goes off....

As always, any pattern produced by Liesl+Co is superbly well written and some of the sewing tips for this cape really helped give the professional finish that I would insist on if I was to buy a cape. I like that it doesn't look like a homemade blanket! I struggled a little with getting my printer to print the PDF files to US paper sizes and not scale it down, but once that was sorted the assembly of the pattern pieces was easey peasey.

So here's me in my cape. (and in my helmet of course Mr Branson) I'm not so sure about how I like it. It's not really a flattering garment in my opinion, yet it is incredibly easy to wear, suitably warm for Autumn, and kind of novel here in Aus. Why just today The Age have declared capes to be right on trend.
I'm going to keep on wearing it and see how I like it....

It's turned out that it is THE perfect thing for biking. So, if you a cycle nut like me, this pattern is an absolute must have for the short commute or kindy drop off on a cold morning. So, on that note I'll introduce another bicycle. This is our CargoCycle, which, over the last few years, since kids came along and racing never seems to happen, is the bike that gets the most use of all the bikes in the garage. Two wheels good, three wheels bad. This bike rolls, corners and handles almost like a normal bike, once you get past the weird, freaky aspect of having the front wheel four feet out in front. So much better than the cargo tricycles with their cumbersome steering.

Hope all the other super mums out there (capes or no) had a good day today. And to all my beautiful, childless (whether by good choice or misfortune,) women friends, happy second Sunday in May.