Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

I grew up in a city noted for it's strange ways, and we went Trick or Treating as kids. It seems the rest of the country didn't....

But now, with the rise of the American empire, or the decline of civilisation as we know it, depending on your point of view, Halloween is IN!

The kids were invited to go Trick or Treating with P's friends from kindy. We needed some costumes, quick, and you know me, they were going to have to be handmade. P said he wanted to be a scary, black ghost.... Two and two thirds year old A declared she would be a happy, purple ghost. And that was that.

The cloaks were made using the Happy Homemade Vol 2 "S" hoodie (seen here) which I had to hand as I used the hood for A's little hooded Nature Walk Pullover
I added a couple of inches to the front of the hood then widened the sleeves and made them extra long and made it an A-line skirt to the floor. Perhaps doing a bias bound seam finish on the necklines of Halloween costumes is overkill, but it made me happy to know how good they looked on the inside.

 The masks were made with a fat quarter each of white fabric. A few simple tucks at the top to help keep them on, a bit of elastic at the back and then some straight stitched applique using fusible web. I cut the mouth holes more for air supply than for stuffing lollies through and both masks were abandoned halfway through the Trick or Treating walk.

This little purple ghost was so cute. She didn't say trick or treat but jumped up and down on the spot saying "I'm a purple ghost" over and over

I tried to get a photo of the kids in the Cargobike on our way to the party but there was no way I could get them to be happy with their helmets on over their hoods and masks, so they disrobed. It was quite hilarious though, seeing these little safety conscious ghosts with their bike helmets on.

We got home in time for another quick picture on the front porch with our pumpkin lit up and then my good little ghosts brushed their teeth and went to bed!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Cutting, cutting, cutting....

I haven't sewn a stitch since last weekend's hoodie, but I've been planning and cutting, and planning some more.

Sadly, this means Kid's Clothes Week has completely passed me by, but I'm starting to wonder if reading everyone else's blog posts and browsing the Flickr pool isn't enough for one week. Sewing as well? Well that just seems impossible, yet you all do it!

And all my cutting hasn't been for the kids. I'm revisiting the idea of Selfish Sewing, hopefully this time without the road trauma or blackouts. Since both of my projects from selfish sewing week were complete or partial failures I'm going to make the same things over again, and this time I'll get it right (I hope).
I found this fabric for the Lisette dress and it has that magical small amount of stretch that was desperately needed for the first dress. It also has a lovely cross weave this time in red and light blue instead of denim and bronze. It's perhaps a little heavier than the other fabric but has a lovely soft feel. I'm going up a full size over all and grading out to an extra second size up from about 6 inches below my waist. Hopefully that'll negate the need for another WAS (Wide Arse Salvage)


I got lucky and found the same self striped cotton fabric for $3/metre that I'd made the original Japanese blouse from. It was available in the same dark red, but having just bought the dress fabric I thought it might be overload and I couldn't bear to sew the same thing over in the exact same fabric. This time I bought a colour that could only be described as wet seaweed.

I've split the pattern vertically and added 1.5cm on each side, front and back, from shoulder to hem. I've also added 1cm width on each side of the sleeve armhole and along the sides of the front and back pattern pieces. Nothing scientific about any of that, they just seemed plausible amounts to add to get it to fit. Luckily I've found someone with narrower shoulders and a lighter frame to take the original one off my hands and wear it.
Onto the kids: Hats times four:
 Not the most exciting sewing but they're long overdue. Two each for the kids. There are some bucket hats in there from the Little Things To Sew book, but that won't add to my tally as I've already sewn that pattern.
Next up I've finally cut a pattern that I drafted months ago. The Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress. I've no idea what this fabric would be called, but it's very sheer, has a self stripe through it and is kind of crinkly. It's threatening to be awful to sew and I've decided to cut two lots of everything from the cotton batiste lining fabric. I'll treat the sheer stuff and one lot of batiste as a single fabric for the outer and then the second lining layer will be the true lining. Will that work?

I didn't think I'd have to do anything for Halloween this year but the kids got an invite to a kindy trick or treating night. P wants to be a scary black ghost, A wants to be a happy purple ghost. I've drafted a pattern using the Happy Homemade hoodie, enlarged to spooky proportions. The broadcloth is on the line drying and I celebrated all this cutting by treating myself to some new scissors at the fabric store. Looking forward to tonight's cutting now!

Finally, I found this fabric also in the "everything $3/metre" shop. It's a medium weight cotton (probably best guess) with a tight weave and slight sheen. These wider stripes run across from selvedge to selvedge. I think it would be wide enough for the hem of a skirt or dress. I bought enough for something for me, and perhaps a little leftover for a skirt for A

 What do you recommend?.....

Poll: What would you do with the navy stripe fabric?

Monday 21 October 2013

Blogging by request

How very flattering!

I snuck a little photo in the Oliver + S pool and it seems it is perhaps worthy of a blog post after all as I got quite a few lovely compliments. So for those who can feel a copy coming on, here's another of my tutorials DIY - LIDs (Like I Did).

The pattern is another Oliver + S (of course) in the Nature Walk pullover and pants. This is, I think, the unsung hero of the Oliver + S stable. It's a pretty unassuming pattern but it's been used to knock out quick dance pants, multiple shorts for kindy, nice sweaters for boys and girls and has been the basis for a LOT of costumes. Here's the Flickr pool for inspiration (I LOVE the octonaut costume)

I'd made the Pullover and pants for P and wanted to give it a bit of a girly twist for A. She has many gorgeous knitted jumpers thanks to my amazing mother in law, but needed some throw in the wash type jumpers for everyday. Coincidentally, it was my mother in law who gave me the velour skirt that I cut this sweater from.

The pattern has a collar and I decided I wanted a hood instead. I used the hood pattern piece from Happy Homemade Vol 2 seen here:

It wasn't a perfect fit as this hood has quite a deep attachment at the front, so after making the hood I started pinning it at the centre back neck and then when I got to the front I just chopped off the most pointy part that didn't want to fit.

Then I folded over the hood lining as if it were the undercollar and sewed it down. Not as neatly as I should have done mind you, but I couldn't be bothered handstitching it first. There may or may not be spots where the raw edge will poke out after a bit of wearing...

The other changes I made were to cut the sleeves and the body sections from a single piece of fabric each rather than having seams where contrasting fabrics would normally be used. I also did this cause I had a very tight squeeze to cut this from the thrifted skirt and saving half an inch on each pattern piece was vital.

The lining was likewise cut from single pieces of fabric. I put the front lining on the front panel when I sewed the placket down. I'm sure if I'd thought more about it, a placket wouldn't have been necessary at all. Or even better, I'd like to have inserted a short zipper there as it does gape open a bit.

And then some ruffles at the pocket openings:

The pocket opening measured about 5 inches at the inner curvature, so I cut a 10 inch long strip that was 2 inches wide. Fold in half lengthwise then gather to fit the inner curvature. Because the ruffle's ends get sewn into the side seam there's no need to taper or finish the ends of the ruffles.
Looking at the photo above, I did learn that velour likes to be sewn in the right direction. The bottom hem and one sleeve went a bit wonky whereas the other sleeve is lovely.

 So there's my Nature Walk hoodie. It's already been worn as evidenced by the spaghetti sauce stain, but I pulled it out of the wash basket to share it with you. Thanks for asking!

Friday 18 October 2013

Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge

Want to go all the way with me?

I'm on a mission to make everything from the Little Things To Sew book. I will get distracted, it could take me ages, but here are some reasons you might want to play along.....

You can win a copy of the book!
If you don't own it yet, or you lent your copy to a friend and never got it back, lost your pattern sheet, spilt coffee on it or just want to gift a copy to your sewing bestie then you're in luck.

Yep, this crazy idea has a sponsor!

The Fabric Stash store has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of the Little Things To Sew book to one lucky Bartacks and Singletrack reader.

If you haven't visited the shop before you may know "Julia's Mom" from her blog So-Cal Sewing Mom and I'm sure you'd recognise her gorgeous daughter from the Oliver + S flickr group. I'm so excited she's given her support to this adventure.

I've created a Flickr group where you can show off what you've made and get that lovely feeling that comes from getting nice comments on your work and leaving nice comments for others.
Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge Flickr Group

The Flickr group can be used to post photos of anything using patterns from the Little Things To Sew book. It could be a work in progress or a finished project. Things you've made previously or something you've just knocked up during nap time.

Here on the blog I'll post projects that I make and hopefully I'll convince some of you to guest post for me and show off what you've made in more detail. There could be some useful tips, perhaps some "don't do as I just did" valuable warnings and maybe a communal brainstorm for anything that proves to be tricky along the way.

Finally, by joining the Flickr group and posting photos of finished projects you can be in the running for a prize:

I'll keep a running tally of completed projects posted by members in the Flickr pool. One prize entry will be credited for each unique pattern used by that member.

There are 20 projects in the Little Things to Sew book, but I'm counting the Juggling Balls and Drawstring Bag as two projects, so there are a maximum of 21 entries per person in the prize pool. Making a dozen bucket hats will still only count as one entry, but don't let that stop you, the kids need sun protection after all. (and this challenge is all about getting distracted by other stuff along the way)

When will the prize be drawn? Well, when we're finished I guess....
But I'm going to set a date to keep us on track. So, since I have ten projects to finish and figure I should be able to do one a month, let's say 31st August 2014.
Now, don't worry, I'm not in the competition, I just need you all to come along with me to keep me keen. If anyone else can finish the whole book before then I'll have to come up with an extra prize for being so speedy!

If you have a blog then you might like to make it official with a button:

So what else do you need? Well you need the book and you need fabric!

Go check out The Fabric Stash shop (and if you can resist the Kokka seersuckers you're made of sterner stuff than me!) and see what Julia's pick of the stash is. That kid has style!

And to be in the running for a copy of the book, just leave a comment below making sure to include your email address. I'll close the comments on Friday 25th midnight Aus EDT then select a random winner.

Good luck!

Thursday 17 October 2013

Gifts for kindy

We love P's kindergarten. It was my last choice of the local kindergartens due to location and the lack of long daycare but it has been an absolute revelation. The teachers are awesome, the grounds are lovely, the other kids and families great and it's become a favourite place for P. This year he's really grown and there's no doubt his school transition has been helped immensely by this kindergarten.

I really knew it was the best kindergarten in the world, when I stayed to play one day and one of the teachers came out into the playground wearing a Shifter Bikes hoodie. There'll be very few people who'll know just how awesome that is for me, but for anyone who doesn't get the reference, at least you now know how to find the best bike mechanic ever (and he once built wheels for us for the price of bourbon infused chocolate mudcake!)

When we first enrolled there was a form for parents to fill in with any useful skills we might have. I didn't rate being able to sing the Hokey Pokey in French as much use to anyone, but did write down that I could sew.

That seemed to go unnoticed until three quarters of the way through the year and footy colours day came around and P wore his homemade Bulldogs T-shirt....

Then I got my first commission: The kindergarten needed a hanging thing with thirty pockets to hold hats for outdoor summer play.

I borrowed an idea I learned from Oliver + S sewing and made an inverted box pleat in each pocket to make them expandable for the hats.

Once that was finished and delivered I got cracking on the project that I really wanted to make for the kindergarten.....

I'd taken the puppet theatre that I made for the kids last year down to kindy one time and when I got it back a few days later there was a list in the bag with all the kids names on it. It seems they'd been queuing up to play with it. I thought I'd make them one of their own as an end of year gift for the kindergarten.

Those little toes peeking under at the bottom crack me up!
I wanted to make it a bit simpler than the house design in the book and planned just for some spotlights over head and some footlights down below as well as the kindergarten's name. But then the doors just need to be there to fill that space.....

I used some 3D puff paint for my neon-esque theatre sign. It's not my neatest painting job ever but I think the effect is great and so long as the kids don't pick at the paint it should wear well.

The background fabric was on sale at Spotlight as was the duck canvas. All the other fabrics were from the stash or the scraps tub. I was quietly pleased when P stood back, looked at the red and blue spotlights and worked out the combination purple idea. Although he then went on to point out how the curtains should be a bit orange on this side and a bit green on the other side given the yellow footlights. Smarty-pants!

So with that distraction completed, my next project from the Little Things To Sew book will be one I haven't done before. My idea to make them all has grown legs and I'm excited to say there's a sponsor, a giveaway and prize, so stay tuned and sew along with me.
Back tomorrow with details!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Little Things To Sew: The journey so far and a cover to cover challenge.

Some time last year I bought myself a copy of Little Things To Sew the book of sewing projects by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S
I wanted to make the Messenger Bag and the Bucket Hat and that, I thought, was it....
(and the Bucket Hat is available as free download anyway, so I really hemmed and hawed about this purchase)

Here's my copy. I didn't get the one signed by Liesl, but when I left this out one day it did get autographed by my daughter!

And now, I can't imagine not having this book. It's provided some great gifts, some fun projects and some nice distractions from sewing clothes.
I'm about to start another project as a gift for P's kindergarten so I started reminiscing about what I've made and wondering what I'll try next.
Let's look through it cover to cover, and I'll show you what I've made thus far and list the projects I'm yet to conquer (in red):
Project 1: Mittens (x2)

I made two pairs of mittens which the kids still sometimes wear to chase each other around the house "snapping" (or "napping" if you're too little to say "sn") at each other.
Project 2: Tutu (maybe this Christmas?)

Project 3: No Tie Scarf (x2)

Last minute spotty outfits for a Dotty teddy Bears Picnic at the gallery. Only P is wearing the scarf as I hadn't planned on making one for A as she had a Lazy Days Skirt, but she threw a wobbly and so I quickly made a second one. It was much easier second time around and this is the only pattern thus far that I really struggled with the instructions and looking at the forums it seems I'm not the only one...
Project 4: Messenger Bag (x2)

Here's the project I bought the book for. The canvas I used for this came free from a local canvas shop after I stopped in and asked them for some Kevlar-type-fabric scarps to reinforce the knees of my son's jeans! They gave me a reasonable amount of some seriously heavy duty fabric. Unbelievably difficult to sew but this is one tough little satchel!
(I love it but within days of completing it I was trumped by my MIL buying him a Wiggles bag from a concert)

This version was the Large size made in some LEGO fabric from Spoonflower as a gift for my brother in law (hence the Uncle Nick's Bag tag) for Christmas. I redrafted the pocket flaps to make them a bit wider and deeper as the original ones seemed a bit scanty on the bigger front pockets.
Project 5: Reversible Bucket Hat (x4)
This should be what I'm about to sew next as the kids have outgrown their hats from last year. Last spring I sewed a hat a day for a week to get the kids ready for the start of the official hat wearing season. Three of those were the Reversible Bucket Hat:
With one of them made from the leftover fabric from P's Secret Agent Trenchcoat in order to make a Spy outfit!
The fourth one was a gift for my nephew made from some more Spoonflower LEGO fabric. This time leftovers from some shirts I made for the LEGO convention.

Project 6: Bias Trimmed Apron (not yet, but I really want to)

Project 7: Bento Box Carrier 

Another gift, with recognisably leftover fabrics.

Project 8: Play Town (lots of hand sewing but I'm kinda keen)
Project 9: Penguin Backpack

Yep, more leftover LEGO fabric. Just enough of the grey canvas for this darling little penguin. This bag is adored and is used as A's daycare bag. I did toy with the idea of cutting his beak, flippers and feet along the LEGO lines to make him look as if he was made of bricks but it all seemed a bit too hard...
Project 10: Art Smock (I agonise over fabric choice cause it needs to be ordinary enough to get paint on it, but nice enough to be bothered making it...)
Project 11: Cozy Winter Hood (x2)

Seen earlier with mittens here they are again. Both pairs are made out of wool jumpers that I accidently ruined in the wash. They are really cute winter hats and both kids have, at various times, worn them as hats not just as play hoods.
Project 12: Messy Kid Bib (perfect gift...)
Project 13: Juggling Balls and Drawstring Bag (x2)

Stuck for a way to wrap a gift? (and no, P's Teddy was not gifted, but he couldn't resist climbing in the bag and hanging out for a bit)

Just the right size to hold a pair of pyjamas as an overnight bag

Project 14: Tea Party Doll Dress (I know she'd love it if I did...)
Project 15: Travel Quilt (straight lines, my kind of quilting, I could do this one)
Project 16: Red Riding Hood
I'm making this one pink, as I haven't technically made the cape with hood, but I did use this pattern to make the cape for my Evel Knievel Cape
Project 17: Explorer Vest

A gift for my favourite little nephew again!
Project 18: Bear Carrier (x4)

One for P and teddy, one as a gift for my nephew (Note to my brother: have you worked out where I get all my gift ideas yet?!) one for A's bestest friend, and one for a Lucky Dip present for my mother's group annual birthday get together.


Project 19: Bear Puppet Bath Mitt (I'm thinking some puppets maybe...)

Project 20: Puppet Theater

I made this last year for the kids for Christmas and got completely carried away with all the extra applique. I'm about to start on one as a gift for P's kindergarten and it was going to be simpler but I've had a few ideas I just can't resist throwing on there.

By my reckoning I've got nine and a half (juggling balls) projects to go, that puts me at 52.5% complete. While that would count as a pass mark (at least it did in animal husbandry back at Uni) I'm going to knock this book over and make everything. (I applied that attitude to a hiking guide book once and ended up walking 500km solo through Turkey)
I may continue to be distracted and make the same things over again, or mess with the patterns to make other things, so there's no time limit, but it will happen....
...... and I made a button to keep myself on track. Anyone else want to go all the way with me?