Tuesday 31 March 2015

More Autumn basics and GIVEAWAY winner announced

The mornings have become quite Autumn crisp, the skies are blue and it's just perfect weather for cycling.

Oh, and perfect weather for leggings. The last lot were getting a bit tight so I whipped up more Oliver + S Playtime leggings for A. This time in size 3 with size 4 length. Perfect!

They've all been worn and washed quite a few times each over the last couple of weeks. Curiously, the pale mint ones on the far right have shrunk further and are now only just long enough compared to all the others.

To go over the top, and since she loved the last one so much, I made another one of these tiered skirts from this Japanese pattern book. Nothing better than easy do-it-yourself dressing on cool Autumn mornings.

Now, courtesy of my losing track of my pattern stocktake, here's the winner of the Garden Party dress pattern!

Blog birthday pattern giveaway

Congratulations Brittney. I'll email you for your postal address and then post it off.

Speaking of posting things, this dress is about to go off to northern England to live, and this one recently departed for Tasmania. I have a limited number of local recipients for outgrown girl's clothes. Heavily worn or the occasional store bought garments go to goodwill, but there are some special Oliver + S clothes for which it seems only right to offer up to other Oliver +S enthusiasts. It's fun imagining them being enjoyed all over again. What do you do with your outgrown sewn clothes?

Monday 23 March 2015

Another fairy tale ending - courtesy of my fairy-freaky-sewing-luck godmother

There's something about the Oliver + S Fairy Tale dress. While you're sewing one, you're already imagining the next....

I was under birthday girl orders with this one, and so in my head I was imagining something much simpler, more refined, more, well.... more me to be exact!

Some blog readers may remember this fabric:

It's a nice quality stretch sateen cotton that I bought ridiculously cheaply and then couldn't work out what to do with. The stripes and the border print effect of the thick stripes necessitated a straight bottomed skirt. I wanted to keep it for myself but didn't have a pattern that it would work with.

Then, there was discussion on the Oliver + S forum about how to pleat the skirt of the Fairy Tale dress. The original poster came up with her own lovely solution (her blog: Bright Up My Life) and linked to this Alexander McQueen dress

Oh my, do I like that dress. So I was decided. I wanted a pleated skirt Fairy Tale dress with the pleats offset to each side. And here it is:
There was a little bit of planning that went into the dress and then bucketloads of good fortune. The planning went like this:
  •  I wanted box pleats with approx. 1 inch deep folds.
  •  I wanted a longer skirt in order to balance the three wide stripes at the bottom.

So I set to with my notebook to work out how wide the skirt would need to be to accommodate the pleats. I measured the bodice pieces, removed the seam allowances to get the minimum skirt width and then added my pleats, coming up with a sizeable number.
Would my fabric be wide enough?
Jackpot! By taking out the side seams and cutting the skirt as one rectangle my fabric was exactly the 56" I'd calculated I'd need. Obviously, a wise person would measure their fabric before getting carried away with an idea and investing any time in the maths, but hey, I like to live fast.
The only other bit of planning was to decide that the pleats shouldn't be too close to the side seams (which I'd eliminated anyway) and so I arbitrarily measured them in about 1/2" off each side.
So, how lucky was I that the first box pleat landed almost perfectly under the bodice dart?! Complete fluke!
Initially I hadn't planned any waist detail but since the box pleat was a millimetre or two off the bodice dart it looked as if it should have been perfectly aligned, but wasn't quite. Best solution to fudge things and break up a seam in stripes is piping.
The length of fabric I'd purchased had just one of the three stripes at the top end, so I used that to make some straight grain corded piping and tucked it into the bodice/skirt seam.
I toyed with the idea of sewing the armholes without the facing that the instructions suggest, but since I was having such an undeserved run of luck I thought I'd better not start trying anything clever.
So the rest of the dress is as per the pattern, although I left the collar off.
For my own records it's size 4 with probably about 2 inches extra length at the skirt hem.
I cut the lining (white cotton batiste from ClearIt) and the tulle (double layered again) to be the same width as the outer skirt but then just gathered them evenly rather than pleating them.
I was getting pretty excited by this stage. Normally my enthusiasm for a project is inversely proportional to my daughter's, but I must have been heavily dusted with the lucky Fairy Tale magic sprinkles as she LOVED it!

I was surprised to learn that this pattern hasn't been as big a seller for Oliver + S as some others. Frankly I'm baffled, 'cause what you get here is a lovely fitted (or not so if like me you just pick a size and don't mind if that bodice is a bit roomy - see pic above) bodice with a fullish skirt. The options for collars, sleeves and waist trim make it incredibly versatile and the only remotely challenging aspect is inserting a visible zip. Trust me, if you've never done that before then this is the pattern company that you want to have walk you through it.
This dress hadn't been intended for an Oliver + S blog post as I was sure Rachel would be all over the Pleated Fairy Tale idea. Turned out she'd been busy and so I was up for the feature.
It would seem insufficient to suggest people scratch out some sums and then wing it, so I set to and worked out how to get those pleats perfectly on the bodice dart for every size.
If you like a bit of maths with your sewing, or are just happy for someone else to do it for you, then hop over to the Oliver + S blog by clicking the image below.

If anyone does use the measurements I've set out I'd love to hear how it worked. I made up a couple of test runs in a few sizes using strips of interfacing and the stapler. I think I got all the sums right.....

Am I allowed to say that I think this may be my favourite of all the dresses I've ever made, and I really wish it was my size? Well, I just did!

Saturday 21 March 2015

Autumn basics, blog birthday and a GIVEAWAY

It occurred to me recently that my blog's birthday might be coming up soon. I looked today and today is it! Happy birthday 2 year old sewing (with the occasional mention of bicycling) blog.

Late March also means the beginning of long sleeve weather round here. So I whipped up a couple of Field Trip Raglan Tees for the boy kid.

Size-wise I went with my usual method of not measuring the kid but choosing something I'd already traced and adding length (la-zy!). So this is the size 6 with about 1&1/4" extra length at the sleeves and hem.

But look at the arms on monkey-boy! Seriously, those are like the size 8 sleeve lengths.

The fabric for this one was some of the striped knit leftover from the Robert Morris sculpture T-shirt and an aqua knit that probably came from Brunswick fabrics or similar. The aqua didn't have much recovery and I wasn't game to use it for the neckband so I used a bit of the aqua/teal Ottobre ribbing that I'd previously used here. It's not a perfect colour match but he moves around enough that no-one's going to notice!

Thinking that was more than enough colour I made another that is a bit more subdued... (the t-shirt that is)

Same size, same length additions. Obviously it would pay to make one and try it on first, but I was on a late night roll. Next time I'd add even another full inch to the sleeves to get more than 2 months wear out of them.

The pocket was some grey knit leftover from my first Camas blouse and the neckband a ribbing remnant from Milo's knight hoodie. I think the trick to the neckbands is not to even attempt using the main fabric unless it's a nice jersey with good recovery. These cotton interlock type knits just don't bounce back enough for neckbands.

"Hey mum, take this picture... I'm going to feel in my pocket and look like I'm wondering what it is that's in there"

The next hole in the wardrobe that he needs to have filled is long pants that aren't navy school pants. I've got a few ideas brewing...

This is such a great pattern for a quick, easy T-shirt. The raglan sleeves are very easy to sew and I experimented by not using any pins. I'm usually a pin at least every few inches kind of sewer and since my new year's resolution was not to stitch over pins, and I have the absolute horrors of running over one with the overlocker knife, I thought I'd try without any. The fabrics were suitably "sticky" and stable such that it was easy-peasy. Only in attaching the neckband did I use pins.

To celebrate the blog's second birthday I'm going to spread a bit more Oliver + S love and give away a paper pattern. I made this gorgeous dress pattern here and I can't say enough how lovely it is to sew!
Click on image to see pattern details
I have another virgin, unopened copy of the Garden Party dress in sizes 6M to 4 years that I'm happy to post anywhere. To win the pattern use the Gleam widget below, no need to "like" anything, just confirm that you meant to enter by leaving a blog comment too.

Blog birthday pattern giveaway

Thanks for being a blog reader! It's been a great 2 years. I'd celebrate the blog's birthday with some bubbles, but I've got a 4year old who's been vomiting all evening and looks like she'll keep going long into the night. Oh dear.....

Sunday 15 March 2015

Selfish Sewing Week: If Skippy were a tennis playing bumble bee.....

This week just ending has been Selfish Sewing Week, and as it happened I have been sewing for myself. For the last few nights I've been working on a pattern test for Thread Theory, but prior to that I did a late one-nighter to whip up a Skippy dress.

Let's not talk about the fabric just yet, hey. (but my eyes! you say. I know, sorry)  Let's begin with the pattern.

I chose a straight size L from my measurements and then became very nervous about how the skirt was going to fit.

The skirt pattern piece is a straight trapezoid which is always going to be prone to giving little kinks at the hem side seams. In fact, because I was using a striped fabric I found that the pattern's hem line actually dipped lower at the side seams, whereas most skirts will curve up slightly at that point. Because of the stripe issue I ignored the pattern and cut it straight.
What worried me was how that skirt would look over my curvy bits, both the back and front curves. Turns out not as bad as I'd thought. At least, the stripes still look horizontal so it can't be as stretched out of shape as it appeared when I finished sewing it after midnight.
With the ribbing dropped waistband sitting here at the top of my butt I think it looks OK. It means that the top section is a little long and overlaps the waist a bit, but I guess that gives it a two-piece look and is not such a bad thing. If I pull the skirt down such that the top is full length it looks truly awful.
What I am super happy about is the fit of the top half. The sleeves sit nicely, the shoulders are just right, the waist comes in just enough, pretty sweet for straight off the pattern.
I made it last weekend and while I had serious doubts when I finished it, I have worn it a few times already this week. It's supremely comfortable. It was today's throw on outfit for visiting the aquarium with the kids.
OK, so what about the fabric. It's some serious stripes. In reality the yellow is a bit more mustard than the gold that's showing up on the screen photos. And it's a navy, not black. So; mustard and navy is a bit less hornet like than yellow and black, isn't it?
It's a fairly heavyweight knit such as is used for rugby tops. Turned out to be the perfect weight for the dress. Enough structure not to cling, but still feels like wearing an oversized t-shirt. The neck-band, cuff binding and waist are navy 2x2 ribbing.
It's kind of sporty, I think. I wished I owned a tennis racquet for a blog photo-shoot prop. No such luck, but the kids took over the camera remote and things got silly anyway...

... And then we found the perfect accessory after all!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

We need another chair at the Round Table...

There's a new knight in town!

Let's call him Sir Bemused. He's my awesome little nephew who was visiting recently. He truly loves his hoodie he just wasn't sure why Auntie Shelley wanted him to stand in front of the wall. A minute later he was riding his horse (aka older cousin P) around the house and was well into the knight-y spirit.
I had meant to make him this hoodie for Christmas, but when they weren't in the country until February I gave myself an extension. Then made it in a bit of a last minute hurry anyway, and got A to try it on (with a tutu of course) to check the fit...
I'd already traced off the size 4 back when I made P's version and it turned out to be the perfect fit, Slightly too big for my littlest, who is 6 months younger than her cousin, but just right for him.
I had planned to use a remnant of a wool, and line it, but needed some ribbing to match. In shopping for the ribbing I found a much better, softer and cheaper fabric for the hoodie, so failed to use any of the fabric stash here. The main fabric looks like a ribbing on the outside, so I  guess it's a kind of thick interlock, but it's bonded to black fleece on the inside. The double layer gives it a bit of extra warmth and weight and it feels lovely.
The fabric and ribbing came from another of those Sydney Rd shops that you might not think to go into, but this one has some fabulous linens, wools, knits and a decent selection of ribbings. And, if you go on the right day of the week there's a very nice cafĂ© next door.

The zip and buttons were the exact same ones from Spotlight that I used first time around. When you're onto a good thing, hey. I should make one for A too as I think she kinda liked dressing up in this one, and she wears her zip up jacket all the time. She likes that she can get it on and off herself, unlike this pullover which has fallen out of favour as it's too hard to do by herself.

It was wonderful seeing the kids all playing together and I'm pretty sure that this hoodie will be cherished, even if only because it's just like his big cousin's one! - which of course he'll probably score as a hand me down in a year or two anyway.

Notably this is probably the first birthday or Christmas that my cousin hasn't received something from the Little Things to Sew book!  ;)

I haven't quite finished documenting my Christmas sewing as there are some lycra cycle shoe covers that need a pattern write up. Perhaps by Easter?...*

*I'm always amused by the tendency to use Christian religious holidays as deadlines. I've never heard of a builder pledging to have the extension done by Ramadan or Hanukkah. As an atheist, I'd be happy to just be given a date on the calendar, thanks.