Saturday 28 June 2014

The local shopping strip.....

When a pattern comes with a warning that "you might get carried away" it would be wise to take heed of the warning. Especially if the project you're starting is for a birthday present and you're just three days out from the birthday party.
But for me, fusible web has this enchanting effect, and I just can't help myself.....
The West side
My work colleague's baby is turning one and what better excuse than to sew another project from the Little Things To Sew book . I decided to make the veterinary clinic where we work and some of the other buildings and shops in our local strip.
The East side
OK, so a wine store may not be an appropriate playtown block for a one year old but he can't read and I know it was one of the shops that couldn't have been left out for his parent's sake.
I haven't a clue what the real meanings of the inscriptions on the church across the street are, but I hit up google translate for a Russian alphabet version of the baby's name to handstitch onto the church front. And in doing so I apologise to any Macedonian church going blog readers who recognise the church and are thinking Што кур??  (that's WTF? according to google :) ) I tried his name in Macedonian first, I promise, but it looked exactly the same as English!
While I'm apologising, that tree appliqued on the side is where we take dogs for a walk if we need a wee sample!

I had to take a bit of licence with the arrangement of signs and logos as to try and fit things exactly where they should be was going to be impossible. However, I'm happy to say that the colours are all quite correct, and everything came from the scraps bucket. I even found a little dog for inside our back door. It's not easy to see but he's wearing a party hat and carrying a birthday card! 

I'm always pleasantly surprised at how nice it is to do some handsewing. I sewed my Wine Store name whilst on the train into the city and the Deadly Sins gargoyle was sewn while playing squirrels at the park with my daughter (it's amazing how "go find more nuts" can count as play when you're trying to multitask!)
Then there was a couple of late nights overworking the small zig zag stitch on the sewing machine and I was done. Just in time to take a few pictures this morning before the party this afternoon. Phew.
And that leaves me with only the Bias-Trimmed Apron and the Bear Puppet Bath Mitt left in my challenge to sew this pattern book from Cover to Cover. Have you joined in? Only 2 months to go!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Kid's Clothes Week: inspiration from art

Have any of you ever wondered where I get my ideas and inspiration from?......


I flatter myself huh?

Well, I'm over at the Kid's Clothes Week blog talking about art as inspiration for sewing kid's clothes. The next KCW season (summer for those in the northern hemisphere) is 21-27 July and has the theme KID ART.

You can interpret the theme however you like (or ignore it), although I'm guessing anything Rolf Harris inspired will be out this year. Anyway, come and read my ramblings on art and sewing inspiration.

Or, if you prefer, you can watch this video of people blowing themselves up*. The kids loved it at the gallery but it didn't make it into the KCW blog post.

* Not suitable for people who are scared of balloons popping!

The Ability to Blow Themselves Up from Simon Bowden on Vimeo.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Li'l Nature Walk Pants

I'm very flattered to have been invited back on the Oliver + S blog to talk about P's Disco Pants

Flattered, but also a bit embarrassed as I just made it up as I went along, but I'm telling myself that my chop it and see if it works approach to sewing might be inspiring for others, or at least mildly  amusing.

If you've come from the Oliver + S post you'll have seen that in trying to describe what I did, I made a mini pattern. Lucky Tinkerbell, huh?!

She now has no less than three pair of Nature Walk pants.

The first pair were made with straight legs, just like a mini version of the real pattern

Then I made a pair for the blogpost with a single cut and spread of the pattern at the middle (outer leg) and a bit of width at the inner leg.

Then I started pondering the definition of flares vs bellbottoms. I didn't go so far as to look it up. I'm sure there are pattern design instructions out there somewhere for how to achieve one but not the other. I was, however, curious enough to want to see what would happen if I cut and spread the pattern piece multiple times.

It does give a much more even flare but it also becomes a bit warped. It's obviously not the couture method for flaring a straight leg pattern but Tinks doesn't mind, she 's just happy to get down in her new pants.

If you have a little 18" (or so) friend who's tired of pretty dolls frocks and wants to ride her bike or go hiking and needs trousers then you're in luck! Click the picture below for a link to a downloadable PDF of the pattern pieces for the straight leg Li'l Nature Walk Pants

Note: PDF is designed to print on a single sheet of A4 paper and you will probably need to select borderless printing or zero margins as it goes close to edge of page. No instructions are included as you really should own this pattern! :)

Saturday 14 June 2014

Made for kid's month.

Hot on the heels of Me Made May (for which I have an insufficient homemade wardrobe to join in, 'lest you should all realise I wear the same few things most of the time anyway) comes Made For Kid's Month.

This is one where I felt I wouldn't have to do a thing to be joining in. My kids are dressed almost entirely, almost everyday, by things that I have made, and the knitwear that I can't do is lovingly supplied by very talented mother in law.

Take today for example:

We got up in time to watch Australia get clobbered by Chile in the World Cup while eating breakfast. I have a new definition of annoying: Trying to explain the offside rule to small children when your country's desperately needed goal has just been ruled offside. I ended up with "because the referee said so and no, life is not fair". The kids did seem fascinated by the theatrics of rolling around in agony when you may, or may not, have been slightly touched by another players boot. That's something small kids seem to understand just fine!

The pyjamas are the Oliver + S Bedtime Story pattern. P's have been seen previously, but when A spotted some novelty flannel at Spotlight there was nothing else for it but to make her a pair. I'd drafted off the size 2 way back when I made P's pair so I just added an inch of length everywhere and they fit just fine, and have been in high rotation already.

Then they got dressed:

Again, all Oliver + S patterns (can you guess I have a bit of a pattern fixation?!). The other pattern that gets a lot of use round here is the Flashback Skinny T and Rae is the other wonderful designer behind Made for Kid's Month. Between the three of us these kids are dressed for June!
What I can't keep up with, or get my head around, is taking pictures and uploading them everyday. The pictures may be sporadic but the handmade stuff is everyday! Lots of other people are snapping pictures on a regular basis and it's lovely seeing them pop into my Flickr feed. Go check out the Made for Kid's Month Flickr pool, and if you know this means, stick the hashtag #madeforkidsmonth on your pictures during June. I'm loving all the inspiration for everyday kid's clothes!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge - tutus!!

We're well into June and I apologise (to wagyu burger) for being tardy with the monthly Cover to Cover Challenge updated scoreboard. It takes more than a bit of fairy dust to update that PDF

One of the most popularly sewn projects in the book is number 2: The Tutu

Here's the updated PDF scoreboard where you'll see the tutu has been completed by 26 of our Little Things sewists. Second only to the Bucket Hat which 29 of us have made. However, I couldn't find a single photo of a kid wearing both at once!

While we all love sewing them, if you read the Flickr and blog comments, our little budding ballerinas seem diverse in their reactions to them. I'm not the only one whose tutu was flatly rejected at first. Thankfully some kids (my son included, and perhaps now my daughter) think they are divine.

I've made a couple of mosaics from the Flickr pool to inspire you if you haven't sewn one yet

1: Skirt as Top 2: Sara.cali 3: Rebecca 4: Skirt as Top
5: Sarah b 6: jennyp0208 7: thepeahead 8: craikabula
9: beanniequilts 10: J.wo-sews 11: mamaknowles03 12: mile571acre


I love the difference the ribbon colour can make and how even just one layer of an unexpected tulle colour can change the whole look of the tutu.

1: Megamora16 2: mynorth 3: forkandneedle 4: 3 little ducks
5: lizzieville79 6: Island nana 7: girl like the sea 8: J.wo-sews
9: donnalynnbh 10: Robbin Bobbin 11: Island nana 12: jennyp0208 

Perhaps my favourite of all time was the stunning tutu by Supergail that formed the basis of a beautiful peacock costume. Check out the link if you've not seen it before, it's lovely!

If you haven't joined in yet. Click the button below to go to the original post where I lay out my crazy plan to make everything from the book and have other people sew along with me. Oh, and you can win a prize!

Saturday 7 June 2014

Made last night - Worn today.

When P was invited to a "Disco Diva" themed party at a kid's function centre, he came to me with his "working idea for an outfit".

I love that he thought he needed an outfit, I love that he trusted I could make whatever he thought up, and his idea itself?... Mum, said he, I need (not want, but need) an all-over white suit with gold lacy stuff as another layer over the top. See through like, so the white shows....

As much as I would LOVE to make another jumpsuit I talked him down to a pair of pants....

I went for my favourite Oliver + S pattern, the Nature Walk pants. He's been wearing two pairs as school shorts, so I knew they were a great fit, and it was a simple matter of redrafting them to be a bit longer and quite flared.

Then we got the paint out. (and if that doesn't sound exciting then you don't know me and my kids!)

While P was at school his little sister and I practised some stamps on fabric using a small rubber stamp we'd purchased.

That seemed to work just fine, but then when P went to stamp his pants the little stamps just weren't cutting it. I cut a sponge into a bigger star and we stamped over the top of the little ones (they're still very visible on one leg, but this is dress-ups and I had to just let that go and not fuss)

With an old skivvie and a bit of "bling" from the party shop down the street, we were ready.

More photos of P getting ready to get down!
(and you might not believe it but he can be so painfully shy sometimes that at the party he held onto my hand for about half an hour before eventually getting into it and getting his groove on)


There was no way that A was going to be left out when it came to fabric painting. She was merrily spreading fabric paint all over the kitchen bench when she and I both realised the paint dauber thing we were using to put paint onto the star stencil made a perfect circle stamp in it's own right.

Cue Flashback Skinny T:

When a 3 year old expresses an interest in some handmade clothing you don't wait, you make it fast! (although that's still no guarantee they'll wear it, right?). I suggested grey (duh) fabric she suggested purple (double duh) paint. Everybody was happy.

I used a ruler to mark out spots 5cm apart and she dabbed at each spot. (with a little help from me cause I couldn't help myself). There was a bit of purple ribbing in the stash for the collars and cuffs, and that pattern almost sews itself up after making so many.

I made a size 3 with about 1.5cm added length. The sleeves were cut to the full length but then I made cuffs the same width as the neckband so that adds a little sleeve length. She was delighted to find it in her room this morning and chose the Music Class skirt and love hearts tights to create her ensemble for the day!

Photo shoots seem to be ending with a love-in these days. I'm not complaining. There aren't enough of these moments in our days so if it happens in front of the camera so be it. I'm not pretending it's hugs and smiles every day, but it's so nice when it happens.

Thursday 5 June 2014

KCW is coming!

kid's clothes week

OK, so I'm more than a bit excited about the upcoming Kid's Clothes Week. That's right, me who hasn't sewn a thing for my kids in seemingly ages (what's with all this selfish sewing, huh?) is getting my kid sewing mojo back.

To be honest, they don't need any more clothes. Not that I'll be put off by such technicalities. If I had got my head around Twitter/Instagram and all things hashtagged then I would definitely be playing along with Made For Kid's Month. Between Liesl's Oliver + S patterns and Rae's Flashback Skinny T I would have a picture of each kid for every day of the month.

I just want to sew along because it's Kid's Clothes Week. There's a great theme again. Last time it was mini-me (and I got to dress my daughter in brown, yay!), this time around it's Kid Art

As I'm typing this post, the glue is drying on some rubber stamps we made so that P can stamp gold stars all over some stretchy, polyester leftovers and I can make him some flared Nature Walk disco pants for a friend's birthday party on Saturday. We are on theme!

Not that you need to sew along with the theme. Sometimes you make some really straight up outfits and then the kids learn to dress themselves and every day is like another surrealist painting. All the right elements are there but in a completely unexpected place!

I'm super, super excited because this time round I'll be contributing to the Kid's Clothes Week blog. (stuck my hand up, and hey, look what happened!)

Check out my co-contributors at their blogs:
Sophie from C'est La Vie *
Kristi from SweetKM
Julie from Our Chez Nous
*I love a blog that combines sewing inspiration with French homework practice!

Amazingly stylish, talented women, right?! I decided my talents lie not in knowing what's on trend, being abreast of patterns, fashions, or fabrics, but in getting completely and utterly carried away with the inspiration. Sounds like fun to me.

Check out all the other participants here then come and sign up by clicking on the banner below.

kid's clothes week

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Blouse "o". My Back 2 Basics white shirt.


I'm linking my completed blouse up with The Creative Counselor, who, this week, is sewing some basic garments for herself. There's nothing more basic than a simple, white blouse. At least, once you've deciphered the pattern!

Yesterday I showed you how I negotiated sewing from a Japanese pattern without knowing any Japanese. (Pattern "o" Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki) Today, it's rainy, grey and I have neither a tripod nor a remote control for the camera. But I took my blouse off (yep, been wearing it a fair bit) gave it a quick iron and took some shirt-on-a-hanger pictures to share.

The fabric is a textured cotton from The Fabric Store and is just the softest, most divine fabric I've worn. I would like all my clothes, my pyjamas and my bedsheets to be sewn from this stuff!

For the neckband facing I chose a scrap of check shirting (leftover from this shirt for P). I wanted a contrast fabric for the sake of the tutorial pictures, but also cause a bit of bias check inside a neckline just screams classy shirt to me.

I used the overlocker and finished all seams together which is nice and quick. After the internal disaster of my Passport Jacket, I'm happy to be able to photograph the inside of this shirt and feel quite pleased:

The other Back 2 Basics that I should get around to sewing this week is a long sleeve merino T-shirt for the cold weather we're having. Boringly, the other basic I've promised to do is sew some blackout curtains for one of the consulting rooms at work. Katie (The Creative Counselor) thought she might be sewing alone as basics aren't very sexy when it comes to sewing blogging, however I can't see anyone managing to sell the idea of Sew Curtains Week.  Ho hum, but they must be done.

Monday 2 June 2014

Blouse "0" Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki: A photo tutorial

Remember this blouse?

After making the first one (that didn't fit) and deciphering the "instructions" I tried to make a photo tutorial of the second one. That, of course, lead to disaster, but now I'm back for round three and this one is going to make me look like I know what I'm doing!
The blouse is pattern "o" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki, one of two adult sized patterns included in the book. The same blouse is given in girl's sizing 90cm-130cm as pattern "n" and there's a very similar dress pattern which features on the front cover:
The adult version comes in two sizes: 150cm and 170cm. I had picked the latter as it coincided with my height.... After sewing the first version my conclusions were that I needed more girth, more length, deeper/larger armholes but the sleeves were otherwise perfect.
That's no use to anyone unless I share some figures, right?
The "Sewing Note" on P34 has a table showing the Size L as chest 86-93cm, waist 69-76cm, hip 93-98cm. I measured at 101cm, 86cm, 108cm. Don't think I worked that out before I sewed anything, I just measured myself now for the sake of sharing the obvious; this blouse was probably not going to fit without some adjustments.
So, here's my dodgy before and after drawings of how I adjusted the pattern to change the fit:

Now, to the construction... For anyone who doesn't have the book and isn't likely to sew the pattern, thanks for coming by, you are now excused. I haven't managed to get any completed garment or modelled shots yet, so come back tomorrow when hopefully I'll link up my new plain, white blouse with Back 2 Basics week. If a white shirt isn't a wardrobe staple then what is?!

Let's get started:

Have a look at the cutting layout on page 64 while tracing your pattern. Here you'll see what seam allowance you have to add to the pattern pieces before cutting your fabric.

You'll also see there are two pieces for which you won't find a pattern piece. They're rectangles so that's easy. One is the sleeve cuff and you do have to cut two of them, choosing the length depending on whether you're making the size M or size L. The other, longer rectangle is the neck facing/binding and contrary to the picture you only need to cut one of those.

Mark your fabric or cut notches at the pattern marking spots copied from the pattern sheet.

The sewing instructions now begin on page 65 - they also mysteriously end on the same page, but we'll come to that later! I've annotated the pictures, but I'll also describe each step. I hope the repetition isn't confusing.
The first part is the construction of the yoke and the diagram shows that broken down into 4 steps.
Step 1: Create the placket. The instructions would have you interface the wrong side of the placket and then finish the raw edge. However, if you wear the blouse unbuttoned this raw edge will be visible, so here's a neater solution:

Trim about 3mm from one long side of the 2.5cm wide interfacing pieces. Then fuse the interfacing to the yoke's wrong side, positioning the interfacing about 3mm from the fabric's edge.

Now press that 3mm section of un-interfaced fabric to the wrong side and edgestitch to create a neat, narrow folded edge.

Press each placket to the wrong side along the line of the interfacing. This will create a very neat placket that is slightly smaller than the intended 2.5cm.

Now, we're up to Step 2: Sew the pintucks.
Here, you'll see the instructions refer you to page 16 where there are colour photos of this being done using the dress pattern seen on the front cover of the book.

Create each pintuck by pressing the fold lines with the wrong sides together, then sewing with a 5mm seam.

When you've sewn all four pintucks, press them towards the outside. Now, with the yoke pieces right side up, overlap the yoke pieces such that the yoke on the wearer's right side is on top of the yoke on the wearer's left side. Pin them together (Step 3) and then baste at the bottom inside the 1cm seam allowance (Step 4).

Part 2: Attaching the yoke to the blouse front.
Sew two rows of gathering stitches between each set of notches on the blouse front. I chose to do them at 8mm and 12mm so that my final seam would be in between the two rows.

Starting at one shoulder, begin pinning the blouse front to the yoke with right side together.

Continue until you reach the point of your gathering stitches. Then start from the other shoulder and pin until you reach the gathering stitches. Pin the overlapping plackets to the centre of the blouse front.

Pull on the gathering stitches until the blouse front is the same length as the yoke at each of the two gathered sections. Distribute the gathers evenly and then pin to the yoke. Stitch the blouse front to the yoke with a 1cm seam.

Remove the gathering stitches and press the seam allowances with the tip of the iron to flatten the gathers.

Finish the seam allowances together and then press them towards the yoke.

Part3 refers you back to page 16. Sewing the shoulder seams.

Sew the blouse front to the blouse back at the shoulder seams with right sides together. Finish the seam allowances together and then press them towards the back.

Part 4, also on page 16 is making the collar.
To make the collar: fuse the collar interfacing piece to the wrong side of one collar piece. This piece will now be referred to as the inside collar.

Pin the collar pieces together, right sides facing, then stitch up one short side, along the slightly concave top edge and down the other short side with a 1cm seam. Trim the corners.

In preparation for turning the collar right side out, press the seam allowances towards the inside collar. This helps the seam roll slightly to the inside and be less visible. Turn the collar right side out and press. Edgestitch the collar with 5mm seam.

Part 5 is creating the neckband facing and attaching the collar. Refer to photos on page 17.
Here's where I got confused. Twice.
The first photo shows a 25mm wide strip of fabric being folded along it's long edges. One side folds in by 10mm the other side by 7mm. Yet in the picture the folds do not touch (a bit like bias binding).
That IS NOT POSSIBLE. Either the numbers are correct or the picture is correct but not both.
It's the numbers that are the ones to pay attention to, so here are the pictures to show what it will really look like....

firstly, press one long edge of the neckband facing 1cm to the wrong side

Now open that fold and press the opposite long edge 7mm to the wrong side.

You will end up with a folded facing that looks like this:

Yes, I realise my maths isn't perfect either as the numbers above are 1mm short of adding up to the 25mm wide strip that you began with, but how about we let that one slide, huh.

I've broken down the next few book illustrations into a couple of extra steps to make attaching the collar easier.
Open the folded placket and turn it back on itself towards the right side of the blouse.
With the inside collar facing up, start pinning the collar to the right side of the blouse. Position the edge of the collar just under the folded back placket.

Continue pinning the collar to the blouse, matching the collars notches/marks to the shoulder seams. You may need to clip into the collar's seam allowances to help it fit the blouse neckline. Baste the collar to the blouse with 8mm seam

Place the neckband facing, wrong side up, over the collar, with the 1cm fold line closest to the raw edge of the collar. Overlap the facing slightly past the ends of the collar and pin in place.
Beginning at the edge of the placket, sew a 1cm seam across the placket and onto the neckband facing. Continue sewing along the 1cm fold line of the neckband facing and then across the other placket to finish at the other edge.

Trim the seam allowances to 5mm.

Press the collar away from the seam allowances. You can also re-press the 7mm fold line in the neckband facing to make the next step a bit easier.

Turn the placket right side out again and use a point turner to get the corner nice and square. Wrap the neckband facing around the trimmed seam allowances of the collar/blouse and press.

Back to page 65 now where there is an illustration of sewing the neckline. Starting at the bottom of one placket, and sewing from the inside, we sew a 5mm seam up one placket, pivoting at the top, then sewing around the collar catching the edge of the neckband facing. Pivot at the opposite placket point and then sew down the opposite placket, ending at the bottom of the yoke.

I think it's nice to then tack the under side placket to the seam allowance at the bottom of the yoke to prevent the seam allowance flopping down. Then tack both plackets to the seam allowance on the other side at the bottom to prevent them opening fully and straining that seam.

Thus ends the instructions on page 65. Turning the page will not reveal any further instructions for blouse "o". Obviously we're not finished. If we go back to page 17, then we see a note at the bottom of the page referring us to page 62.
On page 62 is Step 6: Attaching the sleeves.
I found you can get away without gathering stitches to ease the sleeve onto the armhole, but go ahead if you prefer that to sewing over lots of pins!
Pin the sleeve to the armhole with right sides facing and stitch with 1cm seam.

Finish the seam allowances together and press towards the sleeve.

Step 7 is sewing the side seams, but if you look ahead a bit you'll find that the pattern instructions you're now following is for a dress with a hemmed sleeve. We've got cuffs to attach and no instructions to show us how.... Another pattern on Page 48 has a gathered sleeve with a cuff, so that will do for a pictorial instruction.
I think it's easier to sew the sleeve gathering stitches before sewing the side and underarm seams. Sew two rows of gathering stitches at the bottom of each sleeve, starting and stopping a bit over 1cm from the edge.

Now back to Step 7: Sew the blouse right sides together at the side seams and underarm seams. Finish the seam allowances together and press towards the back.

Create the cuffs by sewing each cuff into a loop with the short ends together. Press the seam allowances open.

Fold the cuff in half, wrong sides together and press.

Slip the cuff over the sleeve with the sleeve right side out and the cuff's raw edge aligned with the sleeve's raw edge. Position the cuff's seam at the sleeve's underarm seam. Gather the sleeve until it fits the cuff. Distribute the gathers evenly and then stitch the sleeve to the cuff with a 1cm seam.

Remove the gathering stitches, press the seam allowances flat then finish them together.
Gently press the cuff away from the sleeve and the finished seam allowances trying not to flatten the sleeve's gathers too much.

Here's where I ran out of daylight sewing time for photos, but then next few steps are fairly self explanatory.
Step 9: Hem the blouse. Press the bottom edge of the blouse first 1cm then 2cm to the wrong side. Edgestitch the inner folded edge to hem the blouse.

Step 10: Sew buttonholes and buttons. Sew vertical buttonholes at the four positions marked on the right side (uppermost) placket and sew buttonholes on the left (underneath) placket.

That's it!
I know there are lots of other ways this blouse could be finished; French seams at the sides, cuffs enveloping the seam allowances on the sleeves, etc etc, but I've tried to stay true to the pattern instructions. I can't wait to try and get some nice pictures of the inside of the finished neckline. It's a beauty! Happy sewing.