Monday 30 September 2013

Selfish Sewing Week : Wrap Up

Firstly, if I hadn't decided I was participating in the week that was Selfish Sewing Week then  I probably would have given up by Tuesday. The enormous haematoma on my right knee is still very sore, then we suffered a blackout, and finally it was fast becoming apparent that I really didn't know what I was doing.

First up I made this Lisette Diplomat dress. This was the one that had baffled me regarding the size to make. My hip measurement would indicate a size 20 but that just seemed insane. I'd settled on a 16 but had a niggling doubt that it would be too big, then at the last minute opted for the 14 based on the amount of ease the pattern said was built in.

It seemed that I would need a bodice muslin for the chest measurement, waist measurement and armhole size. Then I'd need a skirt muslin to check the fit over my hips. Isn't that just sewing one whole dress as a practice run? I figured this was that dress. The fabric was cheap so I'd cut into it. It was also quite unpleasant to sew as it couldn't hold a crease when ironed but certainly could be scorched easily. Did I mention I had a sore knee and was grumpy all week?

As soon as I'd assembled the front of the dress it became apparent that it was going to be too tight around the hips. Holding it against me the front panel could barely meet the back panels at the sides. I thought I'd make up for my sloppy measuring and clueless cutting and perform a three letter acronym which is what all the clever sewists seem to be doing. So above is my WAS or Wide Arse Salvage procedure where I've sewn the side seams at the barest minimum of their seam allowance at the widest point of my ample derriere.

 And with that it was at least wearable. Although I sat down in it when I wore it out yesterday and it then required a SBR or Split Butt Repair along the centre back seam.
It's also a bit too small across the back and around the bust which is fine so long as I stand still and relatively straight. However it's not a dress for a mother who needs to bend down, tie shoelaces, pick stuff up or generally move in any way other than raising a wine glass to her lips.

So, quick honey, take me out for cocktails. I've got the perfect dress so long as you can get me to the party laying flat in the back of a transit van and then prop me up vertically and just don't ask me to dance.

So, next up was my experiment in adult Japanese sewing with a mysterious pattern that gave me no information that I could understand other than suggesting the pattern size was just right for my height. It looked kind of loose fitting so I felt that this might be my redeeming garment...

 The pattern was one of the more confusing ones where the instructions refer to various steps within the instructions to other patterns and there was a fair bit of page hopping. I love the way the collar was attached using a bias strip to finish the inner neck seam and the yoke with it's pleats is really lovely.
Sadly this one is also a bit too small. Too tight across the back and chest. Too narrow in the shoulders and not deep enough in the armholes. I wore it today but now that I've seen pictures of me in it I can see all the spots where it's just not fitting and the self stripe in the fabric just makes it all the more obvious. I have been thinking all day about how I'd have to add bits here and there to make it fit so I guess that's been some progress that wouldn't have happened but for Selfish Sewing Week.
But mostly I just take my hats of to those of you who know how to wield a tape measure, don't have delusions about what size you are, can adjust patterns to fit and make great clothes. For me, I don't know if I can be bothered....
What I do want to do is catch up on the Flickr pool and maybe, just maybe, get inspired to try again one day. Cheers!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Ruffled PJs Pattern Testing

So obviously being selfish doesn't work so well for me....

Good thing I get to sew for others and even got asked to sew something by someone else, for someone else. I was absolutely delighted to have been asked to pattern test for Once Upon A Sewing Machine. I dig the idea that this is a mother/daughter sewing and blogging team and they create some beautiful things.

I was invited to test their new Ruffled PJs PDF pattern. I sewed a size 2 for A who is a pretty standard size 2 in almost every other pattern. I measured her for the first time in ages (ever?) and discovered she really is a plank, measuring 21 inches at chest, waist and hips.

 I think the pattern has already been adjusted to take a bit of length off the sleeves, but I quite liked the long sleeve I would just need to take a bit off the elastic at the cuff to keep them from slipping down over her hands.

As we're about to head into summer I ignored the suggested fabrics of quilting cotton or flannel and went for a lightweight Japanese lawn that  I had in the stash with some matching cotton batiste leftover from lining a Rollerskate dress. While mine are summer PJs I thought my nod to the Northern hemisphere autumn was apparent in the fabric print.

I love the pants with the cuff and the fit was perfect. I was somewhat baffled by the way the pants came together, being more familiar with the method of constructing each leg then sewing the crotch. But in dutifully following the instructions I found a new way of doing something that works every bit as well.

 The top can close with buttons, snaps, or even velcro. I chose buttons cause I happened to have some that I thought looked nice, but I'm not sure how comfortable these big wooden clunkers would be if she slept on her back.
Here's one spot where I broke with the instructions and I interfaced BOTH sides of the placket. I think that would be especially important if you were to use snaps. My fabric was so sheer I thought it would matter for my buttons to be sewn to something a little more substantial.

 My daughter can be decidedly difficult about wearing new clothes but she was totally won over by the twirly ruffle and skirt of the pyjama top and my Woodland fairy sales pitch. These pyjamas were a big hit.

She even asked for another pair in pink....

 At first I thought I'd do something different with the pattern, maybe some piping instead of the ruffle, not do the pants cuff....

But it was the ruffle that she'd loved, and I'd discovered that if you use a contrasting fabric for the body of the pants then 1 metre will suffice for the top bodice, top skirt and pants cuff. I'm still in the habit of buying 1 metre lots of fabric so the stash was raided for another Japanese lawn and some more matching lightweight cotton.

For me to make exactly the same thing, straight over again says a lot for the pattern! usually I would have lost interest after the first run through.

I even happened to have three matching buttons again.
I'm pretty new to PDF patterns and the whole metric/imperial paper size thing can be infuriating if you live outside of the US, but this pattern had a great little box that outlined the pattern pieces so you knew it was all printed and that essential 1" test square to check nothing had inadvertently scaled incorrectly

I'm definitely a word-y instructions type sewer and I did find myself adding some notes to the instructions as I went along to flesh them out a bit more to my liking. The colour photographs are superb and if you don't be cheap like me and print them grayscale on your printer you'll find they're quite helpful.

 These are gorgeous pyjamas and I think the top would make a great little tunic in it's own right. It's really only a pyjama top when you team it with the bottoms and then wear it to bed!

Which is what she did next!
Thanks to Rachel and Donna for inviting me to test their pattern and congratulations to them on their first pattern for sale.

Selfish Sewing Week: Karma

It would appear that "Selfish" is indeed a sin and sinners do get punished. Or, for the other atheists out there, I am f***ing unlucky at the moment!

A 'brief interruption" to my power supply for a compulsory meter replacement turned into a 24hr blackout after a fault was detected, which of course was rectified slowly and at great expense to us.
(yep, the selfish sewing week beers are all warm at our house now, and the milk smells pretty bad!)

This selfish sewer is gingerly firing up the machines again today to see if I can catch up a bit.....

And I suspect I'll be sewing some very narrow seams on my guess-the-size-according-to-vanity-and-ignore-the-tape-measure Lisette dress. Oops.

Monday 23 September 2013

Selfish Sewing Week: Day 1, Cheers!

It's been fun seeing other sewists planning for Selfish Sewing Week. I'm not as ambitious as some and the biggest challenge for me will be to not sew anything for the kids, especially as I've finally found the right ribbing for P's sweater to go with his awesome pants.

I guess the rules don't really exclude sewing for others, so long as some time is spent dedicated to yourself, but I'm going all out on the selfish and putting aside anything else for the next seven days. It's all about me.

So, to planning.... Starting with a coffee (Gran Torino - My Three Girls) I fished out the Lisette pattern that I drafted and cut out about three months ago

This will be my first experiment with a Lisette pattern. I wasn't at all tempted by this pattern until I saw some versions pop up in the Flickr pool. The cover picture featuring a short skirt and printed cotton doesn't do it for me at all, but some solid fabric versions like this one, or even a muted pattern like this one had me thinking this could be a dress I'd like.

The fabric I found was in a remnant bin and is described as "denim look rayon". Sounds nasty but it's actually really nice with a fluid drape and a kind of navy/bronze slight sheen. I bought some embroidery thread for the topstitching that matches the bronze cross threads in the fabric.

As to size.... Well after measuring myself I decided it would be a size 16. That just sounded really wrong though, I thought for a bit, remembering how US sizes always were one size bigger than UK/AUS sizes, and I've never been a 16 in my life, usually a 12 up top and maybe a 14 down below at the most.... I remembered my Ottobre oversized dress, then measured myself again. The tape measure hadn't changed it's mind so I started drafting the pattern.

Then I saw a lovely thing. Smack bang in the middle of the pattern was a note saying how many inches of ease was built into the pattern. I held my tape measure at the finished garment size around my middle, decided it would definitely be too baggy and drafted the 14 after all.

I'm sure dress fitting is a more previse science than that, but I am a rank amateur and this is my starting point. And did I mention the fabric only cost $10? And that I've cut a size 3 Music Class Skirt out of the leftover bits? Can't go wrong surely...

Here's another fabric remnant which was too much for just a small person dress, so I thought I'd try a blouse for myself. Is this cheesecloth? I don't know but I suspect that's what it's called. Anyway I was about to open a bottle of wine and didn't have any nice cheese so it didn't want to dwell on the fabric name any longer.

Sizing choice was a little more simple for this one, in that there is nothing I can understand on the page below except 150cm and 170cm and the second happens to be my height. so therefore I have my pattern size just right, don't I?

The pattern is for a grown up version of the little girls blouse from Sassy Girl's Clothes by Yuki Araki
I'd already drafted the pattern pieces so all that remained was to cut out the fabric. Keen to test my stripe matching requires red wine theory I  decided I needed to open a bottle of something. The colour of the fabric is more a light Bordeaux red, but I went with a Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend instead....
I thought a bit about the stripes, sipped a bit, thought a bit more, then realised the pattern was full of pintucks and gathers and it really wasn't going to matter a rat's how I cut it so long as everything was mostly vertical.
So that's it for me: One dress, one blouse. I'll get started on some sewing tomorrow.

Sunday 22 September 2013

I guess I like brown....

Do you ever get dressed, get your kids dressed, then realise you all kind of match?!

On this particular morning it seemed worthy of a photo. Just call us the Brown Family:

From L to R: A wears Oliver + S School Photo Dress, I'm wearing all shop bought, but the top was the inspiration for A's Ruffled Flashback Skinny T, and P wears Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan T and the yet to be properly revealed Awesome Pants!

So, no surprise that next week's Sewing For Me Challenge isn't going to involve any big floral prints or bright colours. But, curiously, I'm not planning on adding any more brown to my wardrobe! At least not yet.....

Thursday 19 September 2013

I'm all over this sewing challenge!

Only a few days to go and then Imagine Gnats and Made with Moxie will be hosting a sewing challenge I feel eminently qualified* for:

As per Kids Clothes Week the aim is to spend some time, every day, for a week, sewing something, but this time for yourself. Then show off what you've made in the Flickr group

* Hang on there... Eminently qualified? You've sewn one blanket-y cape and an oversized, baggy, knit dress for yourself. No Washi dresses, no Wiksten Tova's, not even a purse....

OK, so I am a rank novice when it comes to sewing for myself. But check out the buttons that they made for Selfish Sewing Week.

First, there's this one:
I can do that.

Or maybe this one:
I'm stocking the fridge as we speak...

This next one will require a little bit of brushing up the skills:

But I've got the right tools (so long as cocktails haven't changed much since 1982) and it wouldn't be a challenge if I didn't have to learn anything, right?
How about that swizzle stick collection?!
And then of course there's this one:
You see, I am all over this challenge.
I have one or two things in mind I'd like to try to make for myself and based on those garments there's a few questions I want to find the answers to:
Does stripe matching really work best for me with a glass of red in my hand? (evidence to date says yes!)
When applying bias bindings after midnight, what's best; a coffee or a cocktail? I sure need some help...
Do pure fabrics like linen or cotton mean I should break out some single origin beans?
Will my Japanese pattern make more sense if I'm drinking a Japanese Chocolate Stout 
What on earth do you match with a fabric like rayon? A nasty coloured cocktail perhaps?
Have you signed up yet?  I think I'll have some fun with this challenge!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Monday 16th September: You will not beat me

Today was one of those days.

It started out like any other, getting kids dressed, breakfasted, making lunches, kindy snacks, barely time for my own breakfast then out the door, on the bike, on my way to work.

Then a lady in an SUV ran me down with her car. At the stop sign that I'd just stopped at, she gave way to traffic on her right, traffic on her left but completely forgot about the cyclist in front of her and drove into me, running over my bike (phenomenally stupid, lady). My right leg went down with the bike but luckily not quite under the car and I have a swelling on the inside of my knee about the same size as one of those on Dolly Parton's chest.

My bike sadly, doesn't look so pretty either. It was only about two months old. I bought it to replace the one seen here which I wrote off by driving into the garage with it on the roof of the car in a flu induced fug (stupid me).

A man kindly took my bike into his house for the day while the ambos patched me up, the police took notes and then a taxi took me home.

I drove out this afternoon to collect the bike, put it on the roof and then drove home. You guessed it, straight into the garage door again (phenomenally stupid, me). Luckily only minor damage to the roof rack and none to the car and no (further) damage to the already partially mangled bike.

The rest of the day went as usual. Kids under foot, grabbing the watermelon leg, demanding all that get down and play that was just excruciatingly impossible.

Post bedtime, I thought I'd unwind with a bit of sewing. Plugged the sewing machine in and flash; the light bulb blew. No worries I thought, I'm prepared for this. Last time the bulb blew I bought two new ones so I'd have a spare for such emergencies. Unscrew the cover, put the new bulb in, turn the machine on and flash; the bulb blew with a huge spark and tripped the house safety switch plunging us into darkness. I vacuumed up the bits of light bulb and left my darling Flipper to extricate the broken bulb as I was convinced by this stage that I was destined to end up in hospital somehow today and trying to unscrew a broken light bulb was just tempting fate.

I sewed in semidarkness and attached the waistband to probably the most awesome pair of pants I'll ever make. Then I realised I'd run out of the right width elastic so I did have to call it quits after all.

But here's a little teaser photo, and with that, at fifteen minutes to midnight I'm declaring this day done and going to bed. let's hope I get there safely! :)

Would you believe me if I said the computer crashed trying to upload an image and had to be rebooted, twice. Oh goodnight!

Friday 13 September 2013

P's choice of pyjamas!

When I was traipsing around town looking for ribbing for my as-yet-non-existent sweater project the kids were in tow, and P spotted some fabric that he wanted to have.

Normally my kids treat fabric store aisles like racetracks, which is made more annoying by how well behaved they can be in almost any other type of shop situation. Anyway P must have slowed down enough to spy that this was STAR WARS fabric!

I couldn't think of anything to do with novelty printed flannel except more pyjamas. (why do I even have to type novelty printed flannel on my blog? I want to type words like beautiful naturel linen with embroidered brown polka dots as sanae does) Anyway P wanted more pyjamas made of this fabric. I bought what I thought would be enough for more of the Sleepover pyjamas that I've been making. But then, in the next fabric store we came to, in a shabby little box at the bottom of a bookshelf were some out of print paper patterns for the Oliver + S Bedtime Story pyjamas. yay! That to me was a bit like a stamp collector finding one of those penny stamps where the queen's looking the wrong way.

The pattern has lovely, simple pants with binding at the cuffs, and a kimono top with ties. I'd read discussion on the Oliver + S forum of substituting the ties with snaps, and while that seems very practical, this was star wars, ninja pyjama territory and the ties would have to stay. I'm also inclined to sew each pattern as it was intended to be sewn at least once before I start messing around with them.

One minor tweak in the pants construction was to use a flat felled seam at the crotch. I guessed (correctly) that ninja-style star wars pyjamas were going to see a lot of high kicking action and that crotch seam would need some reinforcing!

Happily, the pyjama pants pattern piece is a bit narrower than the Sleepover pants, so both pants legs could be cut from a width of fabric folded. The same size (5T) in the Sleepover pattern is marginally too big to do that. And so, I had far more of this fabric than I could possibly need....
So I made a second pair of pants and a Flashback Skinny T for P's friend Noah who's about to have a birthday. I suspect I may have misremembered which was his favourite of the characters to stick on the front of the T-shirt, but that's my right as an old, dinosaur mum who just doesn't get Star Wars beyond the Return of the Jedi (I was going to say sequel, but that's where it all gets confusing, right? The second prequel perhaps??)

 Which left me with about the equivalent of a fat quarter of fabric left. I reached for the trusty Little Things To Sew book and made a drawstring bag:

which I didn't smooth flat very well for the photograph

I used to find a font that looked suitable (it's called Stormtrooper!) and made a freezer paper stencil and P painted the lettering. The bag is exactly the right size for a pair of pyjamas. Score!

And here's A photobombing the blogshoot! (appropriately wearing a flashback skinny T with Sleepover pyjama pants)

Saturday 7 September 2013

Ultimate blogging highlight

Long before I had my own blog, or appeared on the Oliver + S blog, or even sewed clothes for my kids, before I had kids in fact; I discovered an internet blog and became completely hooked on reading it.

Bike Snob NYC is a brilliantly written, acerbic look at cycle culture, primarily of New York city, but pretty much applicable to anywhere in the world.

And here I am, on the Bike Snob blog!

So yeah, it's a dark, blurry photo, taken by a jet lagged, famously mock-grumpy internet blogger, but I'm a proud as can be!

Here's the post; which if you live in Melbourne, have ever been to Melbourne, or might ever come to Melbourne is a great read.

Ruffle Flashback DIY-LID

I hesitate to use the term "tutorial" as, a bit like "wearable muslin", it starts sounding like I know what I'm doing....   (and I suspect you all know more than me anyway)

So here's my Do It Yourself - Like I Did blogpost for a ruffled Flashback Skinny T
I added some ruffles to the shoulder seams of a few Flashback Skinny T's back here and they've been a great wardrobe staple. A plain long sleeved T is so useful and some ruffles lift it from the realms of the mundane to the 'I'm so glad I made that top". Time for some more ruffles I thought....
Firstly, take your Flashback Skinny T front pattern piece and slice it lengthwise round about where you want the ruffle to be. Pin the pattern to your fabric with 2cm between the cut sections of the pattern piece.. Cut out the pattern piece and then cut down the pattern leaving 1cm seam allowance on each side of the cut pattern piece.:

Grab a ruler and measure roughly how deep you want your ruffle to go. For this top I made it 22cm which is just about where the Rae Hoeskstra copyright lettering (note well!) was on the pattern piece:

Next you need to cut your ruffles. Fold the fabric and cut two ruffles twice as long as the measured finished ruffle length and about 5cm wide. Taper the ends with the top end tapering to half the width and the bottom end tapering to a point:

Now you need to finish the curved edge of the ruffle strip. I stupidly cleverly cut a couple of ruffle strips the same length as my desired finished ruffle and these provided the perfect strips for practising my rolled hem finish. I'd never used the rolled hem function on my overlocker, but in learning how to do it I discovered I'd been accidently sewing with the rolled hem lever in it's 'pulled out' position for a while. No wonder my overlocker seams had looked a little odd. As knit fabrics don't really fray you could use a narrow hem with a straight stitch or a zig zag stitch on the raw edge if you don't have an overlocker. But really you should just buy one. I can't believe I waited as long as I did!
After finishing the curved edge, sew two rows of gathering stitches (long stitch length, very loose needle thread tension) along the straight side. Sew the first row about 0.5cm from the raw edge and the second about 1.5cm from the edge.
Knot the threads of each row of stitches at the top end then pull on the threads from the bottom until you've gathered the strip to the desired length. Knot the bottom threads then distribute the gathers evenly and pin the ruffle (right side up) to the edge of the front pattern piece (right side up)

Baste the ruffle to the front piece with a roughly 0.7cm seam. repeat with the opposite ruffle and the opposite side-front pattern piece.

Now pin the centre-front section to the side-front section with right sides facing. You'll sandwich the ruffle between the two layers.

Stitch the layers together with a 1cm seam. Then repeat with the other side-front panel, til you get this:

Press the seam allowances towards the centre of the top taking care not to flatten your ruffles too much (or to overcook your cheap cotton/lycra fabric like I did!)
Edgestitch the seam to keep your seam allowances in place. Don't worry about a stretch stitch here as your Flashback Skinny T doesn't need any stretch in length, only width.

A big picture partly to see the edgestitching but also cause I love those overlocker rolled hems!
Now you have the front panel assembled you just finish sewing the rest of the T-shirt as per Rae's great instructions. Having that bit of extra bulk at the neckline it might be best to use the bias binding neckband method. Or, if like me you lazily serged a folded neckband on, then perhaps stitch it down with the double needle (like this) so the seam allowances don't keep wanting to fold up.

And there you have it. A long sleeved T-shirt with some adorable ruffles!

I bought the two sizes of this pattern together and in pattern-value-per-garment-made I think it's an absolute winner!