Monday 26 May 2014

Red Riding Hood : Little Things To Sew

How I took so long to sew the Red Riding Hood cannot be explained, but for saying that sometimes life gets in the way of sewing nice things...

..And this is one of those really nice things to sew. I adore making anything that doesn't require seam finishing and this is a very finished looking garment that is deceptively quick and easy to sew. In fact, it's sufficiently elegant that Heidi sewed up a Wed (sic) Riding Hood cape for a wedding. Who ever would have thought that the Little Things To Sew book would be providing pattern fodder for weddings? go take a look, it's divine!

I went with traditional red as I suspected it might be more of a dress up than an everyday cape, but it has been worn out a few times and received some great compliments. I'm telling you people, if you see my kids on the street and compliment them on their clothes then that garment that I had to wrestle them into will suddenly become a real favourite. Keep it up strangers, I love you for it!

The red wool is from Spotlight and was on sale, I bought a one metre cut and I'm sure there'll be enough for a little lined Sunday Brunch skirt. The lining fabric is Riley Blake's Little Red Riding Hood in Floral Grey purchased from The Fabric Stash where, for a few more hours you can take 20% off your order in the Memorial Day Sale. The button, I'm told, is made from some kind of nut and will swell up magically when wet, then return to normal size as it dries. I'm really curious to soak this cape and see what happens!

Thankfully we had a sunny afternoon at the park and didn't get soaked and A did a little Cinderella (dress here), Red Riding Hood mash-up and told me the flowers were for Snow White who was sleeping over there (pointing to the park bench!)

Which reminds me of a mental game that I sometimes play (mostly for my own amusement). As an antidote to those parents who see only the brilliance of their children, and make bold predictions for their kids future based on what ever perceivedly brilliant thing said child just did, I like to do the opposite. When my kids do something really mundane, I smile and think what a great {insert mundane job/career} they'll be. As a small toddler A had a real tenacity for repetitive tasks (cannery line) and now can't help but lean up against any street lamp she passes (street walker). P on the hand never wants to leave the park (vagrant). See, it's endlessly amusing, and anything that can help you to smile when some other parent is extolling the virtues of their flawless kids is a good thing, right?!

Here's the photoshoot location I wish I'd chosen, but I got a negative on wearing the cape that day and didn't have the camera. Still, A and I were in the city as the artists were setting up this installation for Australian Wool Week. So beautiful, and I was glad to have been sewing with wool!
Picture credit:

Picture credit: The Juliet Report

To further celebrate wool week I hit up The Fabric Store for the last day of their merino sale, (which is probably all from New Zealand anyway, oops) and now I'm dreaming of a SBCC Tonic 2 for myself with a bit of a cowl neck....

Thursday 22 May 2014

Too narrow, too baggy, too raw, too.....

Remember this guy who couldn't buy himself a new hat?
Well I'm afraid that's me when it comes to sewing for myself.
Often, after someone had found out that I'd made what my kids were wearing I would then be asked if I sewed for myself. My glib answer was that no, I was too fussy, too shaped (compared to the plank like body of a small kid), it was all too difficult.
Slowly, with much inspiration from many, wonderful bloggers, the idea of sewing for myself started to seem more like a challenge and less like a waste of time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not fishing for compliments, and I am enjoying the challenge, but it would seem I really am quite fussy. I also can't pretend that my previous wardrobe had me looking styled everyday. I'm sure there were some real misses in there but since none of it fits anymore I look back with rose coloured glasses.
Curiously, the one type of garment that so many people say not to bother sewing for yourself is knit tops. Why would you when you can buy them cheaply, there's so much variety in shops, you'll never get a decent hem or neckband etc etc.
I'm not buying any of that as I think the one field of me-sewing that I might be close to satisfying myself with is sewing knits. Not to mention that even if the top doesn't quite fit you can still wear your pride in not buying cheap, mass produced slave labour garments, and that does feel good.
This is the Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick free downloadable Tonic 2 long sleeved T-shirt pattern.
Loving: Great instructions. I didn't add any length and it's perfect (and I'm not the petite frame the patterns are designed for). With an overlocker it's quick, very professional looking and I am sinfully proud of my neckbands and hems. This was a 1 metre cut of a very cheap (you guessed it, $3/metre from that shop) thin knit. The 3/4 length sleeve modification was mostly due to a lack of fabric but also I am kind of addicted to this sleeve length. Did I mention the pattern is free?
Reconsidering: I think it's a bit narrow for me. I'm unsure whether I should cut the next one 1/4" off the fold or perhaps split the pattern vertically halfway between the neck and the sleeve and add a little width there.
Disliking: Putting together some PDF patterns. This pattern printed quite differently depending on which paper size I selected. The scaling was always correct but with letter (US standard) I was losing quite a bit at the paper edges. Printing with A4 settings was better but there was still some very vague overlapping edges. I was meant to have a black line around each page to overlap but it was so close to the edge of the paper my printer was leaving it off altogether. I'm fully prepared to accept this is my problem, but it bugs me.
The other thing that bugs me is this....
Nothing irritates me more in a knit top than the visible lumpy bra view from behind. I suspect the solution lies in a combination of a tiny bit more width in the pattern, losing a few kilos, using a thicker knit and probably buying some new underwear! Obviously being grouchy about it and slumping doesn't help but that's where I was at.
Revisiting?: Absolutely. I've purchased some gorgeous soft merino knits and I'm anticipating some very professional looking, hopefully well fitting, cosy, warm winter underlayers.
Loving: Much easier PDF to assemble. Those pockets! The on the knee length (I left it exactly as per pattern length). Linen (of course)
Reconsidering: The size. Why, oh why, didn't I listen! I don't think I've read a single account of this skirt that hasn't said to size down. In my defence I sort of thought I did. I measured myself twice and I fell between the size 12 and 14. I picked the 12 thinking that was sizing down, then realised that the size Large is marked 12-14 on the pattern. All that deliberating for no difference whatsoever. The elastic back means that it can be made to fit, but there's a bit too much gathered fabric back there, and the last thing I need is a bustle!
Disliking: Ironing obviously! :)
Revisiting?: Absolutely, in fact I've already made a size medium (yet to be blogged) in a heavy weight fabric as a winter skirt and I'm loving it.
Finally the Passport jacket

Loving: I'm struggling as my eye keeps being drawn to what I don't like... I do love soft, denim with a bit of stretch. I love that I made no muslin or adjustments whatsoever and managed to land those seams right on my bust. The pockets (while  mostly useless) are really cute. And yep, 3/4 length sleeves. Impractical as we head into winter but I love them!
Disliking: The weight of the neck ruffle (which isn't all that great) makes the neckline want to roll out, even with the understitching. That would be solved if the jacket were lined. That's right it's unlined. I had thought I'd be able to overlock the seam allowances and I had the machine all set up, but the tricky welt pockets made overlocking those seams impossible. The only way I could have finished the seam allowances with the overlocker would have been to do it before sewing anything together. So I zig zag finished the seam allowances and this is the abomination that is the inside of the jacket:
Admittedly, with a bit more dedication I could have bias bound all the seams, but with the pockets disappearing under the facing, and the exposed shoulder pads I still think it would look pretty ordinary. There's nothing to be said but that it needs lining. Sadly, I'm not inclined to wear it as I simply could not take it off without dying of shame!
Revisiting?: Not the jacket, but the ease of fitting it has convinced me I should make the dress the proper way in a woven fabric.
Phew. That all read like a long, grumpy, purging... You might have noticed I would appear to be really fussy about my face in photos too. Actually I'm not that fussy I'm just very good at closing my eyes or having some really weird expression on my face in any photo that is well posed or lit. Believe me I'm capable of some quite charming expressions when the flash fails to go off!
I forgot to mention... I'm nothing if not determined. I'll stick at it, it can only get better.

Friday 16 May 2014

Happy Feet!

The keenly awaited and much requested (in my dreams!) PDF pattern for sewing your own lycra cycling booties is on hold until I buy some more clear elastic tape. Has anyone else sewn with that stuff? It was my first time, and while I worked out that the pattern will eventually use 26" of 1/4" clear elastic to make one pair of booties, I chewed through almost 3 yards of the stuff in my trial and error sewing!

I think I've worked out the pitfalls and have tips on how to use just enough elastic tape and retain circulation below your ankles. Aren't you glad I went there first?!

Meanwhile, I made some little slippers...

These are the Mary Jane version of the Favourite Things Happy Feet slippers. I've made the clog style slippers twice before, but chose the strap style to girly them up a bit this time around.

The outer fabric is a fat quarter of some quilting cotton, the bias binding some leftovers from my Travel Quilt and the lining is some crazy, fluffy synthetic stuff from an old change table cover.

The lining fabric is incredibly cuddly and here's a tip for new mums; do not cover your change table mat in some really snuggly, soft fabric unless you want your kid, mid nappy change, to be trying to roll over and snuggle into the cover. My kids were "blessed" with phenomenal core strength as babies and I would be holding their legs up in the air, fumbling for the wipes, as they were twisting themselves like an angry snake trying to get onto their tummies and rub their faces on this fabric.

Cover your change mat with some rough, furnishing fabric or cold, crisp cotton and save the fluffy stuff for lining their slippers when they get older!

I added some rubbery, non slip stuff underneath to try and reduce the chance of my morning coffee being interrupted by sliding torpedo kids. Although, I clearly recall the delights of galloping down the hallway then flying across the kitchen floor in my bedsocks, so perhaps the next pair will be a recklessly unsafe pair of slippers. (they ain't called slippers for nothing!).

The pattern is nicely laid out with good instructions but the challenge lies in sewing so many thick layers around some tight curves. There is a layer of quilt batting between the lining and outer fabric on the sides and two layers of quilt batting (the pattern calls for three) in the sole. That adds up to seven layers plus the bias binding to stitch, and, while I made my first two pairs with the regular sewing foot, this pattern really suits a walking foot. Oh, and a thimble, but no, I still don't own one!

If you weren't convinced you needed to sew cuddly slippers, here's the proof; when their feet are happy, they exude cuddliness and for just a moment, peace reigns in the household.

Sunday 11 May 2014

For the man who has everything....

Today is Flipper's birthday (also known as mother's day to most of the rest of the world!), and what do you give the man who has everything?....

Lycra booties of course! And not just any old shoe covers, but monogrammed ones that you made yourself....

The internet abounds with patterns for sewing cycling shoe covers but they all looked very utilitarian (ie ugly) and were more like waterproof ponchos for your feet. These puppies*, however, are wildly impractical, will not keep your feet warm, or dry, but are guaranteed to make you look that little bit more pro. (and slightly less like a Fred)

And, as you get a year older, and probably a bit slower, not looking like a Fred might be all you can wish for! Happy birthday honey!

*Free downloadable PDF for this very niche market pattern will follow soon, I promise.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge - May Report

Hello everybody! It's time for the May report.

I can promise, and there will be no broken promises on this blog, that this May Report will contain no new taxes! (oh don't get me started on the mad monk)

Only more gorgeous projects from Little Things To Sew! Check out the Flickr group here, or the original challenge, (with no dodgy back room deals; just a lovely sponsor) by clicking the button below.

Bartacks and Singletrack : want to go all the way with me?

I said I would get distracted from this challenge and boy, did I ever. Kid's Clothes Week and Selfish Sewing Week had me pretty busy. I think I also went to work, fed and cared for the kids (but apparently not Flipper, sigh) and slept a little, but it's all a bit hazy.

I did have another little friend of mine turn one recently. A first birthday calls for a LTTS project (right?!) and so I made him some Messy Kid Bibs. If you've never tooled around with Iron-on vinyl, you have no idea how much fun you're missing out on.

The really cool thing about the vinyl is you can get tricky with applique, stick it all down with fusible web and know that you won't need to stitch it on 'cause the vinyl is going over the top. Perfect for those of us who just keep adding more (puppet theatre case in point)
You can also put vinyl over the top of a T-shirt transfer paper print. Thanks to J Wo for the font inspiration (very funny knitting bag here)
Apparently he loves peas. Oops.

The Messy Kid Bib is a great pattern for using up small scraps of fabric. There's no need to get too fancy about what you use as we all know how it's going to end up looking. I have seen some gorgeous ones with perfectly fussy cut pockets (kudos to you) but I created a new lazy sewing law for myself:

The need for pattern matching and fussy cutting is inversely proportional to the likelihood of getting covered in bolognaise sauce.

And now, down to business......
Here's the updated PDF scorecard. Now spread over two pages. That's about 400 less, at a guess, than the other upcoming May Report but mine will spread a lot more joy!

As well as our two finishers, Sharon and Lynn, there are a couple of us on double digits now and looking like a finish by the end of August. But every project counts, so sew one for yourself, one for your kids and one for your country!

Oh, I really need to go get some sleep and perhaps keep my head under the covers til the next election...

Monday 5 May 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Part 3

... and I finished off the week by making the Passport Jacket

Which, as evidenced by the wrinkly sleeves has also been worn.

Pattern: Lisette Passport Jacket (Simplicity 2209)
Size: 16 (no modifications)
Fabric: Lightweight stretch denim.

I'll be back soon with the end-of-month round up of the Little Things To Sew Cover To Cover Challenge. Does anyone remember that? All this sewing for the kids then me and April slipped by with only one project made (and not yet blogged anyway). Shame (shakes head). Anyone else dragging their feet and needing a prod with the encouraging stick?

Saturday 3 May 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Part 2

Still sewing...

I made this dress last night and I'm wearing it today!

Pattern: Pattern mash of the Lisette Passport dress and the Lisette Diplomat (for the sleeves - not seen here 'cause it's too cold!) Other changes: No side zip. Bound neckline. Size 14.
Fabric: Liberty Carnaby jersey knit.

Next up, a denim Passport jacket to go with it.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Part 1

Very short blog post to let you know I am sewing. Sewing for me, in fact.

I've joined in with Selfish Sewing Week (click the image above), which meant joining up at Kollabora (you can find me here)
I'll try and take a quick picture of what I make as I make it, but I'm trying to sew, and cut our a few more things, so bear with me and there'll be some modelled shots and a round up at the end of the week.
Liesl + Co Everyday skirt. Size L, Olive green linen