Thursday 25 July 2013

Missed By That Much.

Missed By That Much

Or: Why One Should Be On Top Of Their Social Media

Last year I created a costume for P to match his Evel Knievel bicycle helmet.  

 I made the costume using a combination of three different Oliver + S patterns as well as tips and instructions gleaned from a couple of others. Somewhat unwittingly I finished it around the end of October, and while we don't really get into Halloween here in Australia, I landed my costume on the internet at the peak of American costume frenzy.

Liesl of Oliver + S invited me to guest post on her blog about the costume and how it was created. I had no internet presence at all at that stage and was thrilled to bits to guest post on such an auspicious blog. It remains the highlight of my short blogging 'career'. Evel Knievel Guest Post

I then realised that both the ByK bicycle (the inventor/founder of which used to sponsor the Flipper and I when we raced. Not on kiddy bikes mind you, but real, proper grown up bikes) and the Nutcase helmet were being showcased pretty nicely. So I fired off a couple of "you might get a kick out of this" emails.

The result of which was that the pictures bounced around a few Facebook sites and I was feeling very proud of myself.

Fast forward 10 months and a graphic designer commissioned to produce material for a kids Ride Safely campaign, in conjunction with Knievel Days, spotted the pictures and contacted Oliver + S for permission to use them.

First gumby error on my part: I really should start using a watermark on my pictures.

Todd of Oliver + S forwarded the request to me.

My Hotmail email address dates back to 1996, which I'm rather proud of. However, as a consequence there are addresses in my address book which I no longer have any idea who they are: Was Maria the woman I met on a boat in Turkey, or the Finnish man I met while cycling through France who was going through a "transition". Who knows. Anyway, like other people collect Facebook friends I'm keeping my Hotmail account with all it's history, but setting my Junk Mail filter to exclusive. (my secret sewing personality uses a gmail account which I check compulsively, so don't think I don't love your comments)

Second gumby error: Todd's timely email sat in my Junk box for 3 days...

Turns out we missed the deadline the artist had to submit the campaign material by the narrowest of margins.

P missed out on being the face of helmet safety at an Evel Knievel festival.
How friggin' awesome would that have been?!

Oh well. At our house we say get back on the bike, ride hard, jump something (or perhaps just a little rear wheel skid if you're like me) but most importantly, wear your helmet!

Ride (and sew) safely folks!

Wednesday 17 July 2013

KCW: Round the globe with one little gift

Kid's Clothes Week was never going to be a full on sewing assault for me this time around.  The summer sewing season in the northern hemisphere wasn't fitting with our mid winter weather, and of course, there is the grand distraction of Le Tour. Throw in a few dinner dates and a weekend away and I was down to three evenings, and nothing I was overly keen to sew....

Then this little bias cut swing tank top arrived in the post. Here it is hanging at my house, and if you're thinking it's beautiful you're right. It looks just as lovely from behind.

And even lovelier when it was photographed in better light on the other side of the world. Flickr link (caution: contains blatant begging from me)

The story of it's arrival is told here and my new found enthusiasm for KCW was born of the idea that I would make one in return with the modifications required (or perhaps not).

Bias cut, stripey linen sewn into chevrons at the front seam: Check.

Same chevrons at the back and a self covered button to match the linen pocket: Check

My pattern pieces were created from Lucinda's original top. I deepened the armhole and added some width. She'd said about an inch more at the chest and so originally I widened my pattern pieces by an inch on each side. Thankfully my maths brain kicked in and I realised that an inch at each side seam would give no less than four inches all around. Probably going to be a bit big then. Trimmed that back a fair bit and started on my linen with the scissors.

I matched my front seams for the fabric then thought it might look nice to keep the stripes aligned at the shoulder seams. So I cut the back panels such that the centre seams would have the required chevrons and the shoulder seams would be, more or less, aligned.

So, I'd love to be able to say that the pattern pieces were drafted, and the fabric cut in order to achieve these side seams, but this is, yet another, of my freakishly lucky sewing accidents.

I would love to know how it would be possible to do this deliberately. But that "maths brain" completely deserts me when it comes to the angles and measurements that would be required. I guess it really is dumb luck.

I was happy that the bias strips used for facings at the neck line and armhole behaved better than I'd expected and as I sewed I became more and more delighted and proud of what I was making. I guess my fifth obstruction, which I'd not wanted to speak aloud, was that I didn't want to create something too good. Lucinda had never intended for her top to be scrutinised by another sewist and so I was uneasy about the possibility of "bettering" her creation. However, she gets full credit for the idea, design and fabric thrifting, so I relaxed into enjoying my nicely behaved bias strips and creating something that I really did want to share and show off. Sewing "sins" and pride is a whole other blog post for another day!

So here are our tops, from opposite sides of the world, sharing a coat rack.

I was curious to see how it might look on a kid, and I happened to have an obliging one of the right size to hand. Some may say the wrong gender, so if a bit of kiddy cross dressing offends then look no further. I think he looks absolutely beautiful!

I'm definitely keeping this pattern. I love the fit on P. It has a gorgeous "swing" and the high front / lower back hem is a great touch (and a little reminiscent of a cycling jersey!). I think I got the armholes right and while I didn't measure him to fit, it looks like it was custom made for him. Hopefully A will be the same size and shape one day.

So from all the way down here.....

To somewhere roundabout up there....

Off you go little linen tank, with best wishes for a safe voyage and a happy reception. Thanks for the distraction, the challenge and the social connections you've brought us.

Embroidered linen from The Fabric Store.
Brown linen leftovers from mum's shirt that was sacrificed for Hat Week

P really, really liked wearing this top. He did not want to take it off and has asked that I make one just like it for him. A got very cross with him not taking it off as it was for "my friend on side of world, him* need top go post office, NOW)
* There's no confusion that the top is intended for Lucinda's daughter, rather that A has no concept of gender pronouns yet.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Lars, Lucinda and Linen

Lars von Trier : Danish film maker. Co-founder of the Dogme 95 movement. Film makers vowed to abide by a set of rules in making their film. And they made some watchable, and some not so watchable films...

So, he's not a cyclist, and probably doesn't sew, so why am I talking von Trier?

Ever since I fell in awe of the Film Petit series where sewing for kids is inspired by movies, I couldn't stop thinking of the Lars von Trier and Jorgen Leth film The Five Obstructions.

Essentially Lars von Trier challenges his fellow Dane and mentor to remake Leth's 1967 film the Perfect Human. Yet Leth has to remake the film according to rules set out by von Trier, hence the 5 obstructions. (click on The Five Obstructions link above for the details)

While I suspect my movie tastes may be a little too arthouse, I've always thought it would be great to challenge a fellow sewing blogger to remake something wonderful and then give them some Dogme 95 style rules such as no artificial lighting (as someone who only sews after kids bedtime that would kill me!)

Anyway, I think I'm going to play this game in my own little corner over here, all by myself...

Lucinda does sew clothes for kids. Boy does she sew clothes for kids. I don't know if she cycles or makes movies. I just know that I really, really like what she sews.

Her Flickr pool is a place where I could lose hours of my life drooling over beautiful clothes, and I think I'd struggle to find a single garment in there that I didn't wish I'd sewn myself.

I'm not going to apologise for sounding like I have a huge crush on a semi-stranger cause she's also really nice, not only is she all over the sewing blogosphere saying lovely things, but she just mailed me a little linen top

Linen: Nothing needs to be said but that it seems to make everything lovelier.

So what's going on here?

Well, next week is Kid's Clothes Week - summer version, and while it's the middle of winter here I wasn't all that keen on joining in until Lucinda gave me the perfect excuse.

An excuse to sew, to sew something summery and lovely, and an excuse to buy just a little bit more linen...

I'm going to recreate her masterpiece with my own little list of obstructions:

1: her top didn't fit, but since I don't have access to her kid there's no guarantee mine will either.

2: I don't have a pattern. Freestyle sewing is not something I'm particularly comfortable with. But I'm drafting my own pattern from her top with guesses as to how to deal with obstruction 1

3: It has to be stripes cut in perfect chevrons (go back and look at her picture again, you'll see the challenge I'm faced with here, hers is flawless!)

4: Of course it has to be linen (of which I really only had scraps leftover. oh dear fabric shopping time)

There is no fifth obstruction as I really was tempted to unscrew the light globe from the sewing machine and plan to sew only in natural light and then I thought that's just stoopid, you'll end up creating the worst sewn garment you've ever made and then send it to someone else to have it fall apart on them.

So I'm leaving my last obstruction open. I've no doubt I'll find one along the way...

Thursday 11 July 2013

Roller Skate Dress to Ice Skate Dress: Winter FLIP

Having submitted my slightly tweaked Roller Skate Dress for Frances Suzanne : Sewing With Sisters' FLIP This Pattern series I was keen to truly "flip" it and make something quite different.
Flip This Pattern

 The Roller Skate is definitely a summer dress, and I thought I'd rather make something to be worn now, so here's my southern hemisphere (or as Keating might have said "arse end of the world") winter FLIP

The dress is a straight size 2 in sweater fleece with sleeves added, no lining, and a belt instead of elastic casing. I picked the sleeve style I wanted from another pattern (Sailboat Top) daftly ignoring that that pattern has overlapping shoulder seams hence the armhole depth of the pattern is much greater than required. So of course my sleeves were much smaller than the armhole openings and since I'd already sewn the facing I just cut bigger sleeves and continued merrily along.

I chose the notched V facing as this would give the dress it's recognisable  roller skatery-ness.
At the back I popped a tab into the facing/back neck seam and used a press stud for the closure.
I didn't do any elastic casing but put some belt loops in the side seams instead.

So much for a dress for now, it's huge. The neck is quite big, the shoulders a bit wide, the armholes quite deep, the sleeves too long and there's even a bit more length at the hem than is needed. At least I got the sizing wrong all over such that as long as A grows in a co-ordinated fashion it should fit next winter.

But will she wear it? She certainly wouldn't when I first finished the dress. I added the ice skating bear thinking I'd win her over but judging from this morning's response it's a pretty obvious NO.
Do I care? Nyeh
The fabric was salvaged/gifted and it was one of those make it for my sake garments.
As for my little bear's feelings:

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Tout fous du tour.

Everyone else has gone to bed. The Tour de France is on TV and I'm curled up on the couch learning to sew in Japanese . If I could be bothered getting up to get a glass of red wine then, only, could I possibly be happier.

Can you guess what I'm making?

In the northern hemisphere sewing bloggers are all busily flipping the Oliver + S Roller Skate Dress

It's a bit cold for roller skating around here so I'm making a winter flip of my own. I showed A the finished dress today and she gave this look and declared it to be "Nyeh". This is her most common word at the moment (and she can speak perfectly well) and it sounds to me like a combination of a Russian "nyet" and a Gen Y disinterested "meh". Linguistically interesting but downright infuriating.

Anyway, I've added the ice skating bear in the hope that it will win her around and I can bring you some modelled photos tomorrow....

Sunday 7 July 2013




Try and be normal honey..... No, not that normal, try happy normal....

P's Pyjamas: Oliver + S Sleepover Pyjamas, size 5, view A.
Fabric: Celebrate Seuss, Robert Kaufman.
Red striped flannel was an incorrect order from which they suggested I keep. Thanks!
I imagine if a clown became a convict these pyjamas would be the outfit!

A's pyjamas: Oliver + S Sleepover Pyjamas, size 2, view B (those ruffles are so time consuming, but gee they're cute!)
Fabric: Sheri Berry quilting flannel from Spotlight.

 It seems a bit ridiculous putting pockets on kids pyjamas. I don't get why the kids need pyjama pockets, but I'm sure you understand that they HAD to be fussy cut, right?!

Wednesday 3 July 2013

A pattern to make a product to be proud of:

It's no secret that I am a BIG fan of Oliver + S patterns. (and now Todd's given us a platform from which to shout our devotion)

Anyway, my Oliver + S love affair began with the School Days Coat pattern. A friend who could sew (I couldn't, or at least didn't know I could back then) gave me a pattern for a little hooded coat which she'd hand drafted. It was meant to be made in polar fleece but I found some beautiful brown wool on sale at only $10/metre. No, Heidi said, that won't do, my pattern is too bodgy and requires stretch fabric to make the pieces go together. And so the wool was set aside, and thus started my fabric stash.

So, I made my bodgy little fleece duffel, and another for a friend, and then I set out to find a pattern for a wool duffel coat. I was all of three garments into my sewing adventure by then and I stumbled upon this three scissor level pattern. Heck I thought, I'll manage.

And I did. The coat is daunting only in the sheer number of pattern pieces that need to be drafted, and then cut. However the coat comes together surprisingly easily and the pattern instructions are superb.

That's the bit that goes without saying with Oliver + S patterns. You just know you're going to learn a lot along the way, and it's why I now feel quite comfortable sewing from other patterns even if they may not be in English!

This coat was the first thing I made that I would eagerly show to anyone who'd stop to look, and it always impressed.

P has now grown out of this Size 3 coat and so it now resides in Berlin keeping my little nephew snug and warm.

Then I used the pattern again to make a spring weight coat out of corduroy and knit lining for A. This time I made view B with the button tabs instead of toggles.

Now it's winter again and so out came the pattern for a new coat for P and a matching one for a friend of his. (who I sadly couldn't squeeze into the same size, so had to draft the pattern all over again one size up)

I've learnt a few lessons from my first wool coat. I haven't blogged the whole construction as I'd assumed the amazing Nicole of five and counting had done. But here are my tips:

Firstly: Do NOT use leather thonging for the toggles, it just breaks. I had to replace all the leather thonging from this first coat before I handed it down. Painful! This time around I found some proper woven flat cord.

Secondly, magnetic snaps are simply awesome. The ones I used are ridiculously easy to insert, just push them through the fabric (with some interfacing for reinforcement, put the washer on, then bend the legs out.

In the first coat I had the pins of the snap going transversely across the placket piece and that made the topstitching the placket a little tricky as the end of the metal leg was very close to where I wanted to stitch. In this second coat I wisely put the snap in vertically. (and then very stupidly put snaps on the inside and outside of the same side of the coat - Doh!)

Thirdly, I can't go past a hanging loop for a coat (my kids don't have wardrobes you see). Invaluable, easy addition. Just attach it at the same time as sewing the hood to the coat.

Finally, for the quilted vest option there had to be a better way to do the shoulder seams than to just leave these ugly raw, quilted edges:

So I unpicked the quilting within the seam allowance, trimmed the batting and under layer of fabric, folded and pressed the top seam allowance over, then edge stitched the seam allowance. This gave a clean finish inside and out.

So, here are my third and fourth Oliver + S School Days Coats (and I have wool set aside for two more for another day/month/year)

Fabric notes:
P's coat: Size 5, Charcoal wool/cashmere coat, Dr Seuss Flannel lining, quilting cotton and cotton wadding for vest
C's coat: Size 6, Navy wool melton, Dr Seuss flannel lining, quilting cotton and cotton wadding for vest.
For both I used plastic toggles, woven flat cord for the toggle threads, magnetic snaps, elastic hair ties for the vest elastic attachments and plain buttons for attaching lining to coat.

Sadly no modelled photos of P and his friend C at this stage, perhaps to follow.

Do yourself a favour, sew this pattern, you won't be disappointed!