Monday 31 March 2014

Liesl & Co. Weekend Getaway - Take 2

So where was I?....

There's some vintage Japanese silk to be turned into something and I was playing around with the Weekend Getaway pattern to see if I could make it work. If you recall I bought some mushroom-y grey/brown fabric with silver spots to make a practice run but then decided I liked it too much, so the other one (which I'm wearing as I type this) came into being first.

I overdosed on slippery pattern matching and got happily sidetracked by crisper fabrics and easier things to sew. But the lure of the grey/brown fabric was strong and there was a party to attend. This frock needed to be sewn by Saturday night.

I had initially bought some matching coloured batiste cotton thinking I could underline the dress, or make an identical underdress that attached at the facing. But as my cotton sat neatly folded on a chair and my slippery fabric spilled from whatever surface I tried to rest it on, it became apparent that they would hang too differently and my initial plan would never work.

Having just given the Diplomat Dress a Passport it now seemed appropriate to send it on a Weekend Getaway. Hence my Diplomat slip dress to go underneath... (close your eyes now if you don't want to see me in my underneath dress, but I thought you might be interested in how I did it)

I discovered that the larger of my Diplomat dresses could be wriggled into without undoing the zipper, so I cut a dress with the back piece on the fold. Some of the shaping of the dress comes from the front pieces being subtly shaped along the centre line so I left that seam rather than cutting the front on the fold. I thought the centre seam was kind of suitable for the Weekend Getaway anyway.
Then I drafted a scooped, sleeveless neckline onto the normal bodice section and created some facings to match. The way the facings and straps are done is taken straight from my recent go at the Pinwheel Dress and it gives a perfect clean finish and yes, I understitched the neckline of my underdress (goody two shoes, huh). Then I unpicked it all (doh!) to take the sides in by about an inch each side and it looks like I could have taken still more. It's light and loose and there's plenty of room for a large dinner so I call that a success as far as undergarments go.
Then to the dress itself....
Never have I had less pleasure sewing a fabric. It slipped, it slid, it would not hold a crease, it frayed and if I tried to turn the iron up the silver spots melted off. It was a nightmare to cut out and almost equally unpleasant to sew. But, come Saturday night I had a dress and Flipper snapped a few pictures in the back lane before we headed off to the party.
I did end up redrafting the pattern and took it in one size for the blouse part and then kept the original size from the blouse hem down. I'm not sure I can notice the difference though. It's still very loose and comfortable but I think my sparkly fabric saves it from looking like a hessian sack.
just cause I was so pleased with my earrings matching the fabric!
While I could not possibly wish this kind of sewing experience on any of you I have to wholeheartedly endorse the Weekend Getaway sewn in something evil and slippery. It is simply the most comfortable dress you can wear. Yet in a fabric like this it doesn't feel like "comfort dressing".  If, like me, you like to eat everything that's offered to you by the food catering service at a party, then I can put my hand on my heart and say this the dress to get you through the night!
Just forgive me if I don't tackle version 3 for a month or two. I need a good few weeks of sewing cotton to recover from this one.

Thursday 20 March 2014

First Birthdays

A little girl who I sometimes refer to as "the heir to my daughter's wardrobe" is about to turn one.

While she is rich in hand-me-downs, I figured she should have something new, something made just for her. Why not a Birthday Party Dress in 12-18 month size?

I can't really say what the fabric is as I picked up an roll of it (almost 3m length) for $5 at a manchester manufacturer of all places. It is decidedly crisp with a moderate sheen and is a red/blue shot weave. I suspect it's a silk/cotton blend.

The colour is hard to photograph. It's more blue than purple, even with the red threads in there. I was showing it to Flipper and trying to describe the colour and explain the concept of shot cottons when he looked all wistful and said, "Just like my old car".

So there you have it. If you're ever trying to explain the effect of different thread colours in the warp and weft of a fabric, you can just reference a late '90s Subaru Impreza and your bloke will nod knowingly.

On the inside I decided to finish the yoke facings with bias binding. This dress was the first thing I  made after my Weekend Getaway Blouse and the contrast in fabrics couldn't have been greater. This fabric was like paper to cut and it pressed into perfect creases. Such a simple joy to sew, and I imagine it may provide considerable support to it's little wearer as she learns to walk!

Then I decided a birthday isn't a birthday without another project from the Little Things To Sew book and so I made some juggling balls to match. - and that brings me to 5 projects left in the challenge

I have to confess I struggled  a bit with these. Making each half sphere was easy but then, when sewing the two halves together, I was unsure what should happen with the seam allowances of the other sections. Do they get sewn into the final seam or do you try and work around them?

I read, and re-read the instructions for a clue. I've become so used to Oliver + S instructions telling me every little thing and giving me all the tips to get the perfect result, that I was quite put out that there was no indication of how to handle these little half cups.

The answer, I suspect, is what I didn't do. I blithely sewed the two halves and ignored the seam allowances getting caught, and so I have some unsightly puckers on my balls!

of course I photographed the better sides

I seriously contemplated starting over again but then realised I was sewing for a ONE YEAR OLD. If she can't cut me some slack on my sewing then she can just start buying her own stuff and be disowned as "the heir to my daughter's wardrobe". No actually, she's ONE YEAR OLD. She's simply not going to notice!

Guess who else turns one (today in fact)? My blog!

Bartacks and Singletrack is one year old today!

I'm loving having my blog and sharing all my sewing here. I've never had a real plans for the blog, but I've been delighted to have done some pattern testing, guest blogging (and again here) and to be hosting the Cover to Cover Challenge.

There's not really any balance in life at the moment but I did ride a 50km Mountain Bike race last weekend. That makes two dirt rides in the last 12 months, so the Singletrack part of the blog title can stay.

But mostly, I'm just enjoying making things. Cheers!!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

My new favourite dress!

In my unsuccessful search for Navy Windproof Fleece fabric I found something else completely...

Funny how that can happen, isn't it? This large amount of gorgeously soft and perfectly brown on brown fabric just had to come home with me.

But what to do with it? It was begging to made into something my size and I spent a fair bit of time surfing the net for pattern inspiration before I decided to go with what I had to hand. Not that I had any dress patterns suitable for knit fabric, but that wasn't going to stop me.

I did have this pattern (as yet untouched) Simplicity 2209: Lisette Passport Jacket and Dress:

But I wanted sleeves, so how about some pattern mashing using this pattern Simplicity 1878 Lisette Diplomat Dress

Passport.... Diplomat... This was obviously going to work. (no need to point out that the whole Lisette line are thusly named and it's no guarantee of pattern mashing success that the names sound good together. I was satisfied it was a good idea)

So I pulled out my patterns, traced off the Passport dress in a size that seemed about right, then I laid that tracing over the Diplomat dress. I lined up the side edges and the shoulder edges and then redrew the armhole in order to have Diplomat armholes in a Passport bodice.

I've been doing some very involved pattern matching cutting again lately and so it was a relief to set that aside, fold this fabric over and chop the dress out in a matter of minutes. In fact, I didn't think at all about the fabric's pattern. I assumed it was sufficiently abstract to not matter at all. And so, I came terrifyingly close to a Map of Tasmania Disaster.

For the international reader, don't type that into a search engine. Let me tell you, Tasmania is an island state, shaped like this and thickly forested. Nothing more needs to be said.

I think I got away with it as the Apple Isle is more over my left thigh than dead centre...

Or maybe not... now that I see it right next to the other map I'm worried it's really obvious!
The bodice of the dress has a lovely cross over section under the bust and down to the waist seam that gives it shape. It's intended to be sewn in a woven fabric and I was so gung ho about this project that it was only as I was glancing at the instructions to attach the bodice to the skirt that I noticed it usually has a small side zipper.

Thankfully I can now say that should you make this dress in a knit fabric with sufficient stretch you can omit the zip! Phew!

The fabric feels lovely and somehow the shape, the fit and the fabric all conspired together to give me a dress that doesn't show bra lines, or look strangled or overly wrinkly anywhere. I love it!

I had a play with serging some clear elastic on the sleeve hems thinking that was what one did to help stop them stretching. Nope. I've left it there but my skirt hem that I did with the walking foot and double needle is much more successful.

The Passport dress has a facing to finish the neckline. I cut a strip of self binding about 1" shorter than I measured the circumference of the neckline, sewed it together with 1/2" seam then applied it as a binding. That means my neckline would actually be higher (by the 5/8" seam allowance) than the pattern intended) and I'm happy with it just like that.

In fact I just love this dress. It's by far the best thing I've ever made myself but it's also one of my favourite things in my wardrobe right now. And I suppose, if it makes anyone want to go out and hug a tree and picket near a logging coup then I'll wear my Tassie badge with pride.

I'll also probably buy myself a few metres of Liberty viscose jersey cause now I have the perfect knit dress pattern!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Liebster Award

I've been very busy sewing, cutting more evil, slippery, patterned, sheer stuff, online fabric shopping (navy windproof fleece anyone?) and pattern mashing.

But I couldn't ignore that I was nominated for a Liebster Award.

Click the button above to go to the Itinerant Seamstress' post and get thoroughly distracted by all the other lovely blogs she nominated.

And then you realise that, yes, it's chain mail. But it's a friendly, cost free, kind of pyramid scheme for sharing small blogs, so I'll play along. The rules seem to be re-interpreted by anyone who cares to. Some suggest nominating 3-5 other blogs, some 11. Answer 5 questions or 11, link to blogs with under 200 members, or maybe under 2,000?

Edit: Because this is a very wordy blog spot I'm going to intersperse all the ramblings with some photos of Oliver + S Teaparty dresses and playsuits I've made that have already been handed down and thus would never otherwise see an internet blog page.

Here are the questions that the Itinerant Seamstress put to me:

1) How much time do you spend on blog photography?

Garments on clothes hangers: about 10 minutes.
Garments on kids: as long as it takes, two seconds sometimes. Shoot fast and then edit later.
Garments on me: Days. I'm a lot more fussy, funny that. I don't fit very well on our very small spot of blank wall so I go outside and wait for some flattering light and an available photographer!

2) What is your idea of a perfect vacation?

I'd struggle to answer this now without offending my husband and kids! I travelled a lot before my family came into my life. I like to do things, so I'd be hiking, scuba diving, horse riding, bicycling....
Perfect next holiday could be Sicily; I'd cycle with the hubbie in the mornings and then eat gelato in the afternoons with the kids.

3) What fabric are you currently drooling over?

I just had some phenomenal success with a knit dress for me. So now I really want some Liberty of London viscose jersey to make another one.

4) What is your favorite candy?

If this is the all encompassing American meaning of candy, then I'd say dark chocolate.

5) What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

The worst fright I've had was riding my mountain bike on a race course, entering a steep downhill section of bermed, boardwalk that is only about 3 foot wide, with a very steep drop off on either side, to see a large Tiger Snake lying right across the track! Luckily he/she got just as bad a fright and moved quickly down between the boards and my wheel missed the snake by millimetres.

And now, 5 random facts about me:

1: Rightly, or wrongly, I think I would have a genetic talent for body building. However I have neither the will power nor the desire to prove it.

2: Our household is 4 people, 4 goldfish and 17 bicycles

3: I grew up sleeping in a bed where my feet pointed due North. All through my twenties I was convinced I could be used as a human compass. It mostly worked, but when you're lost, drunk, and on a foreign street your friends will believe you no matter what you say.

4: I've been learning French at adult education classes for the last 14 years. (... and no, I'm not "fluent" yet)

5: I currently have very odd foot tan from the sandals I've been wearing all summer.

Finally, to sharing the Liebster love and nominating some blogs that I enjoy. I've no idea how many readers/members other blogs have (is it possible to know that?) so I apologise in advance if I offend anyone who has many more readers than the variable Liebster magic number.

Ava's Lookbook is brand, spanking new. but megamora16 has been sewing some stunning Oliver + S outfits for her daughter. I can't wait to see more on her blog

Rachel of Stitched Together can always make me smile. Her sewing and her kids are just too beautiful. Plus her husband knows how to use burlap ribbon and wield a glue gun. Love it!

Over at A Stitch A Day Brittany always makes the dress I wish I'd made. Don't look too closely, you'll be bound to find something I've shamelessly copied!

For the most beautifully dressed and photographed little girl I can't look past Daisies and Dresses. Her photos are divine and her broken doll photoshoot is worth hunting out.

And Ashley at Everything Else We Do is brilliant and hilarious in equal measure. I love the clothes she makes for herself and am always amused by her writing and sewing style.

Now, to some questions for my nominated bloggers (and at this stage in my blog post I will fully understand if you were to say thanks for linking to my blog but there's no way I can be bothered with chain mail posting!)

1:  When the sun refuses to shine and you have something wonderful to photograph for your blog, what do you do?

2:  What's been your "never again" moment in sewing?

3: If you could only choose one type of fabric to sew with for the next year, what would it be?

4: What's your family's favourite dinner recipe? (yep I'm fishing for ideas at that time of the day!)

5: What do you do with kid's clothes you've made that have been outgrown?

Phew.... I wonder if I shouldn't have just said thanks and then published my Bloglovin reading list!
I'm more than happy to see more wonderful sewing blogs. Any you'd recommend?

Saturday 8 March 2014

My Favourite Oliver + S Pattern

Well, honestly I don't just have one, but if I had to choose...

I'm over at the Oliver + S blog today (click image above).
Can you guess which might have been my favourite?

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge - First to finish!

Let's all be upstanding for a moment and offer up a huge round of applause for our first finisher in the Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge.

Sharon of Sweet Pea and Pumkins has finished off all 21 projects with a gorgeous springtime Travel Quilt

As she caught her breath at the finish line I conducted a quick interview.....

Q: As a sewer, what was your favourite project in the book?
A: The Art Smock! It sewn up ever so clever and what a lovely finish it has to it.
Q: Which project was the favourite from the kid's point of view?
A: The kids favorite was the Puppet Theater with the "bath" mitt puppets by far. All the kids have had hours of fun with them, quiet hours of all five kids getting along. ; )  (Edit: if that doesn't make everyone want to sew one I don't know what would!)
Q: Were there any projects that you found difficult or got stuck on? If so, why?
A: I would say the Bento Box Carrier. When I started Sweet Pea's two years ago I remember being a bit frustrated so I never finished it up but when I made Prince C's last week it went so much smoother. My sewing skills must have gotten better over two years, either that or it might of been one of those late night, no sleep sewing projects.
Q: Were there any projects that you wouldn't have made except for the Cover to Cover Challenge and the need to make them all? Which one(s)?
A: The Travel Quilt might of never been sewn if not for this challenge. When reading the instructions and seeing all those almost identical pieces seem a bit mind boggling at first. I am very glad I made it now, as long as I had ever single piece marked and laid out right it went together with no problems. I am planning on making another for one for myself! (thanks for the encouragement Shelley!!)  (Edit: You're welcome. I feel a bit less weird if other people are sewing things they don't really need too!)

Q: Would you be happy, uninterested or horrified if there was ever a Little Things To Sew Volume II?
A: I would be excited for another challenge!! Bring it on. : )
Q: And finally, what's next?
A: Sewing for Easter is next on my list, four Art Museum outfits with four sketchbook shirt for the boys and a lovely dress for me, the dress coming first.
 How silly of me to think she might have a little rest!

Well, just in case Sharon had run out of little things to sew, Liesl and Todd of Oliver + S have kindly offered TWO Straight Stitch Society patterns of her choice as a First Finisher prize!

You've got to love sewing patterns that come with their own manifesto and membership card!

While someone had to finish first the rest of us should keep our sewing machines busy because every unique pattern project submitted to the Flickr pool scores one entry into the main prize draw at the end of August.

And since I initially invited anyone who wanted to, to "go all the way with me" (and trust me, I am so delighted when I see those little buttons popping up on blogs! Grab one here if you're just joining in now)

I figured Sharon should get a button for her blog...

...declaring that she did go all the way...

...and that she came first!

Although I might be the only one childish enough to find that hilarious!

So here's another button Sharon, in case you don't fancy the double entendre: 


Here's all of Sharon's projects rounded up from the Flickr group where I can see Mile571acr has passed With love, Heidi and I to be the next potential finisher. There's lots of inspirational sewing in that pool. Congratulations again to Sharon and happy sewing everyone!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Liesl & Co. Weekend Getaway - Take 1.

After consulting a couple of online sewing dictionaries, it seems the phrases: dry run, practice go, dummy run, first take, tester, etc aren't part of the sewing lingo. I suppose that  means I've made a muslin.

I think I tried to explain the logic behind how I sew once before on the blog, and failed. But let me try again...

My mother recently passed on to me some fabric that my grandmother had given her. Grandma had brought it back from Japan probably in the early 60's sometime (correct me if I'm wrong mum) and assuming my mum could sew she handed it on. There's a bit of a joke about the complete lack of domestic skills in the women on both sides of my family so it was a very generous assumption on my grandmother's part. My own mother is now making a very generous gift of the fabric and an equally generous assumption that I won't balls it up in a really bad way.

So, I'm understandably nervous about cutting a vintage, patterned silk fabric. What to make with it?

I looked to a pattern that had no waist line and minimal seams to interfere with the fabric's own pattern. The Weekend Getaway Blouse and Dress by Liesl & Co.

Here it is as a dress:
Photo from

I had a few questions to answer before I launched into the real fabric so it seemed a test run was in order. Would I like the shape, would it fit? Could I handle the slippery fabric? How would I deal with the seam finishes?

Just as I was pondering these problems I happened to find myself in The Fabric Store, on a sale day, facing some divine mushroom-y coloured, sheer fabric with tiny silver dots all over it. What a coincidence! Not far away there was also a lightweight cotton of exactly the same shade of browny-grey. You can imagine my delight! So, now I'm daydreaming about a sheer dress underlined with the cotton. That's going to be a lot of work if I can't handle the seam finishes, I don't like the shape, it doesn't fit me.....

Problems NOT solved but the fabrics made their way into my bag all the same.

Then, in the remnants box at the front of the store I spied this fabric

It was a 1.1m x150cm piece of sheer polyester. It was definitely going to be evil to handle, it would be slippery as all heck, challenge my seam finishes, and at $9 it was very, very bin-able if it all failed.

I didn't really think at the time that I was throwing in another level of difficulty altogether in choosing a fabric with a very obvious pattern.

I almost wished I'd videoed myself cutting this out (except that I do it on the floor and I'm sure a video of my backside sticking up would detract from the genius of my cutting! ha). I had to fold, unfold, refold so many times. It really was not going to fit. Every time I folded the fabric to try another way I had to meticulously line up the plaid lines just to discover that the facings wouldn't fit or I'd only get one sleeve on.

Eventually I nutted it out but it was what I call a "multi-fold cut". That is, you can't just fold the fabric once and then cut every piece. You have to fold a bit, cut one piece, refold again to cut the next then flatten it out to cut some single layer parts wherever they'll fit. Does anyone else do this? I confess I never look at pattern layout suggestions anymore.

And the cutting turned out to be the trickiest part of the whole thing.

The instructions for the blouse are superb. I couldn't do any staystitching close to the edge of the fabric lest it get munched* so I cut some 1/4" strips of black interfacing and ironed them to the raw edge. That worked perfectly to stabilise the neck.

* that's also not in any sewing dictionary but I'm sure you all know what I mean

Then I worked out that where I couldn't do a French or hairline seam I could put a narrow strip of interfacing between the seam allowances and then finish them together.

If anyone else has made the blouse and worked out how to do a French seam at the shoulder and still get the facing to wrap around neatly then I really want to know about it. Meanwhile, this finish looks like it will hold up ok. There are some lovely French seams joining the front to back at the sides and sleeves

The back has this lovely inverted box pleat and the neckline is finished with a strip of bias facing.

Ticking off my muslin questions:  I figured out a way of dealing with super lightweight seam finishes where hairline or French seams won't work. I handled the evil, slippery stuff without tears or seam ripping.

Do I like it? Does it fit?

Well yes, I like it. However I'm not entirely convinced that it's my style, especially in this fabric. Here I am pretending I have an office job (I don't) and get to wear nice skirts and shoes (I don't). It is ever so comfortable though and I have worn it already quite a few times.

The fit is the only part that I'm still undecided about. I love the fit of this blouse, but I wonder if that's because it's see through. If it were made in this size in a solid fabric would it look a bit sack like?...

And that question will have to wait to be answered when I get around to Weekend Getaway Take 2