Thursday 29 January 2015

Gone troppo: Jalie times two and a Cosi

There comes a time, if you're endeavouring to sew all your kid's clothes, when you're going to have to make some swimmers.....

Perversely, while I sewed Roger's Newcastle cardigan the weather was stinking hot. The following week, as I set to sewing swimmers it cooled right down and I wondered if they'd ever get worn. While I'm obviously not a born local (or I'd call them bathers, right?) I love my adopted city's changeable weather!

I'd only had a vague ambition to sew swimwear, but I was hurried along by those little remnant packages at The Fabric Store where A found this lovely floral lycra. For $5 I had more than enough fabric for a pair of swimmers or two, and she declared that that was what she'd have, please.

The obvious pattern choice was Sewpony's Cosi Swimsuit as that seemed to be the one that everyone cut their teeth on. But when I went on to Rathdowne Remnants for some lining fabric I found other swimsuit lycras in the remnant sale and suddenly I had three different swimsuits in mind...

And so my first swimsuit was Jalie 3350. It struck me as amusing to sew the cross over bust view in a vintage-y floral fabric for a 4 year old (with obviously no bust!)

I sewed a straight 4 year old size (Size H on the pattern) and the fit is perfect. I used a soft, pale pink lycra for the front lining and sewed it with a combination of serger and sewing machine. I did the hems and straps with a plain old zig zag stitch, and while it looks a bit homemade on close inspection, it's behaved perfectly and stayed nice and flat during wear.
There are a few pieces to the swimsuit and it took a little while to piece them all together, but I adore this pattern, and I found the Jalie instructions and diagrams really easy to follow. There were also some nice steps showing how to baste the outer and lining fabrics together to make the construction easier. Time consuming, but worth it.
Flushed with success I headed straight into swimsuit number 2. This one was driven by the fabric. I'd found this remnant which had two repeats of the print on it and was spaced at exactly the right length for a well placed flower on a Cosi swimsuit:
Also a straight size 4, this swimsuit is a bit blockier in shape and has ended up looking a bit baggy around the belly and bottom. The length and the chest width were definitely correct for her size though. I bought some bra strap sliders and rings and left the straps as long as the pattern indicated since I was sewing after bedtime. They turned out to be very long and are doubled up almost all the way, so there's plenty of room to grow and this one should last a while! To finish the hems I got the double needle out and tried to make this pair look a bit more "pro" than the first.
Being nearly all white I lined this one front and back with the pale pink lycra and now it's plenty thick enough and really should last forever. I love the little leg frills, and A is super keen on the pattern version with the peplum skirt. Even though I'd already bought the Jalie patterns I couldn't help but buy the Cosi swimsuit just for the variety of costumes you can make from the one pattern.
I don't own a tablet computer and had to use Flippers' work tablet to view the instructions. That meant I got logged out every 5 minutes or so and had to keep logging back in. Personally, I prefer a good line drawing on an old fashioned piece of paper, but if you like colour photographs in your pattern instructions then this is a very well presented pattern with plenty of helpful instructions and images.
You know how when you look for one thing, you find another? Well, I wanted navy lycra for those leg frills and then I found this great stripe to go with it for a third pair of swimmers:
Another Jalie pattern, this one is Jalie 3134; a racer back style with options for colour blocking or even some faux piping.
I was fastidious about matching the stripes of the centre and side front panels, and then had a complete brain fade and just cut the back panel anyhow. Just thought I'd mention it so it's not the elephant in the room...
While she may not be showing it with that belly out pose, this is a really flattering swimsuit cut, and I might even be tempted to make this one for myself! Incredibly, these Jalie patterns go from a 2 year old size up to women's size 22 (I made the 4 year old size again here). That's probably the greatest size range of any pattern I've ever heard of!
The racer back is perfect for an active kids. Easy to put on by yourself and no straps dangling or slipping off your shoulders. I could make her a new version of this one every year for as long as I'm allowed to.
Thinking this one would be my best (until I flunked the stripe matching obviously) I did my very neatest, double needle hemming close to the edge of the folded under elastic, but sadly, it's tending to roll outwards around the neckline. Perhaps the elastic curve is too tight, or I should have stitched further from the edge.
After all the comments on my recent post suggesting I need a coverstitch machine I'm going to shrug and say whatever the problem with this swimsuit, a coverstitch machine would undoubtedly have resolved it. I want one. End of story.
All the swimsuits had plenty of wear during our recent holiday (not the location of these beach pictures) but A's favourite is definitely her "booby crossing flower" one.
The kids swam almost every day and Flipper and I took it in turns to ride. He rode dirt tracks, I rode mountain roads.

I finished the supported alpine challenge ride that I entered and sent Flipper these pictures from the top of the second major climb. One is a picture of my legs, the other is custard. Can you tell the difference?

I have to mention Sewsquirrel where I bought the Jalie patterns. I'd been about to buy the PDF versions when I found this online Australian store selling a huge range of patterns with free postage within Australia. I ordered just before Christmas, and since there was some delay due to public holidays (completely reasonably) Sarah of SewSquirrel refunded the cost of one of the patterns to me. Brilliant!

Monday 19 January 2015

Gone riding...

We're off on a little holiday. Once upon a time Flipper and I could take a mountain bike and a road bike each. nowadays we have to choose only one bike to take. Otherwise we'd have to choose to leave the kids behind!

I will be taking a little bit of hand sewing to work on while we're away. I'm joining Sanae and Ute (and 96 other people) again for the Secret Valentine Exchange, and since it's an international affair, postage is slow and I'm away from the machines I thought I'd inflict some cross stitch on my valentine. (poor love)

I've never tried it before, but I was intrigued by the water soluble canvas and since that allows me to use fabric from the stash (all my linen type fabrics were too beige for my gift recipient's tastes!) I'm going to give it a go. At least my messy back will be covered once I've finished my project...

To celebrate being on holiday, and just 'cause it's long overdue, I gave the blog an overhaul and finally created some pages. I hope it makes it easier to find stuff, at least I think it will for me...

See you after I've ridden some hills!

Thursday 15 January 2015

The story of the Stripe Solution and the Facing Fail

Do you sometimes think you know what you're doing, only to discover you kind of don't? Yeah. Me too.

For the blog post where I look like I know what I'm doing, click on the image below and hop over to the Oliver + S blog.

Or stick around here, to see what I was trying to do, what I discovered I needed to do, what went right and what went really, quite wrong....

So, let's start with the inspiration and what I was trying to do. I attend a weekly French class. Well, it used to be a class until we completed the course, now it's more of a discussion group but we have kept our teacher on a retainer so we don't get too distracted. Anyway, one of the other students subscribes to Point de Vue and often passes on the copies. It's like flipping through a moderately high brow weekly magazine.  Lots (make that LOTS) on the various royal families of Europe, but also some real articles on French history and culture and of course a regular fashion spread.

Point de Vue - Semaine du 23 au 29 Juillet 2014: Page 12
I am hopelessly addicted to stripey tops and I WANTED that one. The photo credited Peter Hahn and I was curious to see what the "prix sur demande" might be, but this particular top was nowhere to be found. No worries (I'm obviously still very much an Aussie!) I can make one.

And so began the search for the fabric.... As you can see I didn't quite get there. I found uneven stripes of almost every colour but red. For the record the St James interlock is the perfect Mariniere fabric, of course unless you want red. Eventually I found this fabric at Stylish Fabric. It's described as a medium weight rayon spandex. I'd say it's more a light weight and wow, is it soft. The kids were so keen to have pyjamas made out of it and kept running off with it and wrapping themselves up

(if only I'd got the pose right, we could've been twins! :) )
While I was hunting for the fabric I was also thinking about how to make the top. What I needed to start with was a drop shouldered T-shirt. I was about to start changing up the front of the Weekend Getaway dress when the Bento Tee pattern was released. Bingo I thought, that's my solution right there.

Mindful of my Oliver + S blogging duty, I thought I'd do a nice tutorial on adding a hem facing to a knit top to achieve a neatly curved hemline. That was my plan.

I made my short sleeve Bento Tees as practice runs then planned the modifications. I wanted a deeper neckline, a slimmer, longer silhouette and the hi-low hem with the steeply curved side split.

Only at the last minute did I realise that the sleeve of the Bento tee has a curve where it joins the body. The short sleeve, striped version seen in the pattern advertising works because the cuff turns up and covers the bit where the stripes would look wonky. A long sleeved version would need the sleeve squared off  in order for the stripes to be parallel to the seam across the arm.

And in adjusting the sleeve to get the Stripe Solution I found my blog post after all.

Luckily, 'cause I then went on to completely butcher the original hem facing idea. I painstakingly drafted and cut a hem facing which I intended to sew to the hem, flip to the inside then stitch down. Somehow I lost all my stripe-fu by this stage and even though I'd laboured over the cutting, the hem facing was not going to match. Then it became apparent that nothing was going to "flip to the inside" as sharply as I'd imagined. There was much clipping close to seams and still plenty of puckering.

Eventually, in a salvage attempt, I cut the facing off. But I was then left with very little fabric with which to hem the shirt. I'm usually quite fussy about my knit hems. I overlock the edge, turn it under and then twin needle stitch such that the bobbin zig-zag is on the overlocked edge and it all looks quite professional.

This one doesn't come close and I'll be surprised if it lasts. Here's the barely hemmed underside in all it's ugliness

Oh, and one other blindingly obvious thing: you can't sew tight curves or 90 degree angles with a twin needle. There ain't no lift and pivot when you've got two needles in the fabric.  Kind of like how trains can't turn corners. Seems very obvious now, but I needed to go there to realise it. This is what happens when you try to sew a tight curve with a twin needle. Ick.

If only I had sewn the side seam with the sewing machine and finished the seam allowances separately I could have pressed the seam allowance to each side at the split and my hem might have worked. Perhaps I also wouldn't have mucked up that stripe matching seen above.

One part of the original plan which was also quickly modified was the neckline. I'd planned a below the collarbones neckline with a turned under hem and no neckband. But I'd been a bit scissor happy in creating my new neckhole and it would have been enormous! Ok, a neckband was needed.

I don't think there can be a formula for how long to cut a neckband when you've modified the neckhole as it depends so much on the fabric. I cut it the width that suited my stripes and a length that was about an inch shorter than the measured circumference of the neckhole. Then I pinned the neckband loop to the shirt and kept shortening it by inch to half inch increments until I felt like the neckband needed a reasonable stretch to fit the T-shirt.

Then I got lazy and attached it straight up with the overlocker and fluffed the centre back neckline a bit. C'est la vie, huh.

What was successful was my changes to length and width. I lay the Bento Tee pattern piece down, then my pattern tracing interfacing, then the Neptune tee pattern piece on top. I drew a new side seam that was somewhere in between the narrow Neptune and the boxy Bento. I used the Neptune's length with a little more added to the back and free drew my own curved side splits. I wish I'd taken a photo of the unhemmed splits as they looked great. S'funny I can't leave a knit hem unfinished. Even my somewhat mangled hems on this top seem more complete than if I'd done nothing.

I've rather enjoyed writing this one up, warts and all. I know I'm fussy and I'm not fishing for compliments by pointing out my mistakes. Just noticing what I botched and making a mental note to do better next time.

I love this top and I can see myself wearing it 'til it falls apart, which may not be all that long! I'm still perplexed about how badly my imagined hem facing married with reality. That's a problem that remains in need of a solution. If I ever find the perfect asymmentrical white on red stripe, I'll come back for another attempt!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Bento Tee: Straight out of the box

I had an idea for fiddling around with the Bento Tee pattern by Liesl & Co the moment it was released. While I searched and searched online for the exact fabric I wanted, I sewed a test version exactly by the pattern to see how it worked straight up.

I can never go past the remnant packages at The Fabric Store. Maybe it's the way they present them, rolled around a cardboard sheet with a nice brown paper cuff. It might be the designer names that are sometimes scrawled in texta on that brown paper sleeve, or maybe it's just the price. Whatever it is, I buy them for the kids, but then start coveting them for me.

This was one such fabric. It was labelled Lyocell knit and it is insanely pleasant to sew with and to wear. It feels like a slinky, slippery, silky knit but with a bit of ironing it held the sharpest creases and sewed as easily as a fine woven cotton.

I have never seen fabric advertised as lyocell knit before, but trust me, if you do, then buy a bit. Apart from being so nice to work with I can vouch for it being brilliant to wear in a heat wave too!

The pattern is such a fun, easy sew as well. The front and back are basically symmetrical (with the excection of the neckline) and the sleeve is a dropped shoulder sleeve so attaches without any fuss. I sewed the whole thing on the overlocker and then just finished the bottom hem with a double needle. Everyone talks about T-shirts being quick to sew, but this one really is. I did spend a few minutes hand sewing my sleeve cuffs up as they were unlikely to stay put without some attaching.

I really did try to photograph this "in the wild" but was wearing it with tight jeans, on a blustery windy day and once I saw the pictures I realised how bad it looked. The wind didn't help as I looked about 8 months pregnant in most shots. Mental note: Cropped boxy tops do not go well with fitted bottoms for me. I'm blaming the weather and poor pants choice as I quite like how it looks here.

I had grabbed another knit remnant on a later trip to The Fabric Store and couldn't work out what else to do with it, so a second Bento tee came to be.

This was a decidedly tricky piece of fabric. Because of the lovely packaging I hadn't realised that what I thought was a grey-beige snakeskin looking knit actually had a very pronounced ombre effect.

Only the shading of the ombre went across the grain from selvedge to selvedge. That meant anything I made with the stretch horizontal would also have the shading going from side to side instead of the more usual top to bottom.

I'd resolved to make leggings for A, with one leg considerably darker than the other (could be cute, no?), when I changed my mind and thought of another Bento tee but with a kind of harlequin effect.

So I cut the sleeve cuffs and neckband to shade in the opposite direction to the shirt. One side seam is barely noticeable, but with a full pirouette the other side is dramatically different.

It's odd, but I kind of like it.

These two are in fairly regular T-shirt rotation, but really they were the launching block for the top that I was still hunting for the perfect fabric for.... (to be continued)

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Thread Theory love: Newcastle cardigan and Camas blouse muslin

I hadn't planned on showing you my Camas blouse* until I'd made a second one with some fit changes, but, truth is, I've been wearing it heaps and it's a great pattern, and Thread Theory are having a sale, so how could I not share?! Click on the picture link below to shop the thread Theory website and take advantage of their sale.

The blouse is a knit shirt with the option of functional or faux button placket, and with shoulder and back yokes that can be the same or a contrast fabric.

I had some small pieces of Liberty lawn, and there was exactly enough (from a fat 1/8th) to make the yokes and I had some T-shirt cotton that was lying around. Perfect for a test run....

I made a straight size 14, and with the thicker t-shirt cotton and the size I feel it's a bit boxy. For my final draft I've picked a slinkier viscose jersey, sized down one size and added a bit of length through the waist. I'm super excited about how it will turn out!

I don't have much in the way of a bust, and certainly can't boast a cleavage as such, so I was nervous about the low front, but it sits at exactly the right spot. Low cut, but not indecent, and, as the next photo shows, it get's the photographer husband tick of approval :)

I happened to have just the right number of grey linen covered buttons leftover from this shirt turned dress and they're not a bad match.

The pattern was a delight to sew, and I have the next one cut out and ready to go. Stay tuned...

Now,... Do you remember the Newcastle cardigan that I made for my dad, and Roger stole the show with his turn at modelling? Well, he asked nicely enough for one of his own in the same fabric, so that was his Christmas present sorted. He requested pockets and red lining. I almost fulfilled his wishes...

My dad had given me feedback that the lining, while soft and pleasant was too catchy to wear the cardigan over long sleeves. His had been lined with a cotton jersey. It seemed I needed proper slippery lining, but also needed to retain the stretch.

If you're wondering why I'm talking lining for a cardigan which is normally unlined (by the pattern instructions) then I should explain: the faux quilted main fabric has an awful black, scratchy interfacing type reverse side. It needed something behind it.

I asked around and discovered stretch woven lining. It feels just like normal lining but has enough lycra to have some reasonable stretch in one direction. Perfect. Only problem was I couldn't find any colours in bricks and mortar shops around town (I'd left it too late for buying the perfect red off the 'net).

Eventually I found this pewter grey which I thought was ideal, and snuck in the red by using some quilting cotton from the stash for bias binding on the facing edge and for a label background. I guess that's one reason for hanging onto some bits of quilting cotton right there.

Adding a lining is quite simple. I had thought to take pictures and turn it into a tutorial but this was sewn during some very late nights leading up to Christmas, and if I'm sewing until 2am for a few days straight, I ain't taking photos as I go!

I cut the front, back and sleeves from lining. After sewing the shoulder seams of the lining I added it at the point where the front button plackets are attached. Then it's just a matter of attaching all four sleeves, before sewing all four side seams, being conscious of keeping everything from getting twisted up. While it adds a bit of sewing it does save on finishing any seams and I think I'd do this every time now.

The pockets were inspired by these ones that Meredith of Thread Theory did when she made a Newcastle cardigan for herself. Only I decided mine should have a curved turned down bit that echoed the shape of the shawl collar. Then I thought they should be lined, and then that they should be fussy cut to match the pattern of the jacket. Somehow these all seemed like rational thoughts when I was self drafting a pocket after midnight on a weeknight!

I was very excited when I bought more of the main buttons to discover a smaller version that was just right for the pockets.

This cardigan had the same extra length in the body and the GWA (Grandpa Waist Adjustment) of my first one, but this time I got the recalculation of the button spacing right, so it has the correct number of buttons down the front.

The finished cardigan was wrapped and left under the tree at my parents house for Roger who was visiting after we'd left. Of course I left instructions about photographing it, but forgot to say I'd already taken some on the hanger shots.

He artfully composed some suitably rustic shots by the back door...

But then all his modelled shots failed to work with the exception of this "side elevation" of the model preparing himself:
As we're now experiencing rolling summer heatwaves we're all going to have to wait until fireside, port drinking weather comes back around and I can coax Roger into another blog appearance.
* I was given the Camas blouse pattern in exchange for some publicity. I'm sure you know my enthusiasm for Thread Theory patterns is entirely genuine and that I can't be bought!