Monday 29 June 2015

Kid's Clothes Week: Pyjama fest!

I'm going to confess that while I did some pattern tracing and cutting of kid's clothes the weekend before Kid's Clothes Week started, I was sidetracked by some sewing for me, and didn't get back to the kid's stuff until after Wednesday. So it was a half and halfer kind of sewing week.

Once I knuckled down to the kid's sewing I slaved each evening late into the night to make three pairs of Oliver + S Sleepover Pajamas before the end of the weekend.

The littlest pair are for Oscar who turns two tomorrow. He's previously been the recipient of a little blanket, and then last year the Playtown set from Little Things To Sew.

I already had the size 2 pattern drafted as that's what A's been wearing since here and here. They really do fit forever as turning down the cuffs gives another inch in length and they're pretty generous to start with.

A's pyjamas are a size 4. I chose to leave the ruffles off for the first time. They're super adorable with the ruffles but I knew it would be the time consuming bit that would put me over the edge.

There's no getting around it. These are some time consuming pyjamas to sew. Maybe I've become lazy with all the knit fabric overlocker jammies I've been making, but these ones kicked my butt.

Thank goodness for snaps as doing buttonholes on all three pair would have been untenable! I had A helping me in the garage lining up the snaps and setting them into the snap press, so naturally she got to choose her own colours, hence the rainbow snaps on this pair of pyjamas.

Finally, P got a pair in size 7.

Can you see the pockets? They're pretty well camouflaged as I was particular about fussy cutting them so they matched. I've said it before: you don't need pockets on pyjamas but if you're going to put them there you may as well do it right!

The kids chose the fabrics themselves from Spotlight last summer when it was on sale. My recollection is that the main flannelette fabric was $2/metre at the time. As they chose one fabric each they also volunteered that baby Oscar might like the blue camping animals fabric. So his birthday present was planned by the kids a long way out.

I would never have thought that I'd get into pyjama sewing, but if you're tired of having tasteful, darling dresses rejected then knock out some novelty print fabric pyjamas. The kids will love them and they'll get a ton of wear compared to anything else you make.

As I sewed these, my 5th, 6th and 7th pair of Sleepover Pajamas, I counted up all the other pyjamas I've made and came up with a decent list.
7 pair of Sleepover Pajamas
2 pair of Bedtime Story Pajamas
2 pair + 1 pair of Flashback Skinny T with Bedtime Story Pajama pants
2 pair of OUSM Ruffled PJs (pattern link)
2 pair of Tron Pyjamas (Rowan tee and Twisted Trousers)
1 pair Spider pyjamas (Rowan Tee and Bedtime Story Pajama pants

17 pairs of pyjamas!

Sewing these three pair was made trickier by our little houseguest seen photobombing above.
He gets a serious attack of the ratbaggy demon kitten just after the kids have gone to bed and I'm trying to sew. Obviously, a moving sewing machine, a pile of fabric, pattern paper, threads, it's all just too much for a kitten to resist. I had to press all the seams on these pyjamas with the cord to the iron wound over my shoulders so that it didn't get attacked from below!

I think that's us done for pyjamas for a while. At least until summer rolls around.

How was your Kid's Clothes Week. Was it slow and steady or a 4 night bender like mine?

Monday 22 June 2015

Birthday wishes: "Yoda, the green one, mum"

For a few weeks P's Darth Vader stencil T-shirt had been missing. Once we found it down the side of the wardrobe I realised it was getting a bit small now. With a birthday coming up I asked what he might like on a T-shirt for his birthday...

The short answer was "Yoda". The lengthy answer involved a detailed description of what Yoda looked like.

As if that I am not knowing.

I did an online search for Yoda images and found this How to Draw Yoda tutorial. I made it easy for myself and printed the finished black and white image then traced the image to get the shape and outline of each colour block area.

From that I cut a freezer paper stencil and then ironed the stencil onto the T-shirt, putting each piece back until the jigsaw was almost complete. I left off the areas that would be green, then painted the green. Then I peeled off the centre area and painted it brown. Then peeled off the beige areas and painted them, and finally the black walking stick.

When the colour paint was dry, I painted the black lines to give detail by referencing the image by my side and freehand painting it. I had a shocking head cold, was as grumpy as a bat, but found this to be really therapeutic!

I've used Setacolour paints, which, so long as you give them a very solid ironing on high heat once they're dry, wash and wear very well. I should photograph the Darth stencil now after 18 months of washing and wearing. It's faded but at about the same rate that the t-shirt is outgrown anyway.

The T-shirt is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee in size 6 with 6cm length added to the body and 8cm (holy crap!) added to the sleeves. Perfect fit!

For another bit of birthday sewing I followed the much loved Tron pyjamas with a similar pair in knit fabric.

I found this spider web fabric at ClearIt and noticed that the markings on the spiders backs looked to me like a number 7 (French style). Perfect for my about to be 7 year old, so I snapped it up.

For the top I've used the Titchy Threads  Rowan Tee again. Of course I forgot to add sleeve length, so I cut the cuff piece 1" wider than the pattern calls for. I wanted straight leg seams for the pants, so I used the Oliver + S Bedtime Story Pyjama pants. They're size 5 ('cause that's what I had traced) with about an inch added to the bottom and then a knit cuff added as well. Turned out to be plenty of length.

The spider man poses were getting a bit elaborate by this stage...

His birthday was on a school day, so we had grandparents around on the weekend before, presents the morning of his birthday and then a party with friends the weekend after. Way to drag out a one day celebration!

While I technically sewed these all over a week ago, it's Kid's Clothes Week starting today, so I'm going with the what gets blogged during Kid's Clothes Week counts as time spent on making kid's clothes approach. Also, cause I've cut out some things I want to make for myself next, and I may have little else to show by the end of the week!

Happy birthday P, now clean your footprints off the wall please!

Wednesday 17 June 2015

V neck tutorial tested on me and the kids!

Today is another of my regular posts on the Oliver + S blog where I tinker around with their patterns. Click on the image below to go to the Oliver + S blog to learn how I converted a circular neckband to a V neck for both the Metro T-shirt and the School Bus T-shirts. Or hang around here for pics of the kids and me.

Straight up I'm going to confess that I'm not actually much of a V neck fan. But when there was discussion on the Oliver + S forum about how it could be done, I became intrigued by the question and decided it was a problem I wanted to solve...

I figured I could be happy with a V neck if it wasn't too high. I was wearing my relatively risqué Camas blouse at the time and decided that a V that was in line with my armpits would feel more like a blouse than a dorky t-shirt. From then on I was sold on the idea.

I love the way the Metro T-shirt fits me and I can't have too many long sleeved T-shirts. If a V neck made this one a little different from the others that would be a good thing. The fabric is a relatively thick knit, not quite a ponte, but not far off. My T-shirt is a straight size XL and is now my fourth version of this pattern. Needless to say, I love it.

But before I cut into so much fabric I figured I'd experiment with something smaller. So P was first in line for a V neck T-shirt. His is the School Bus T-shirt, which is essentially the kid's version of the Metro T-shirt. I thought about how to create the vertical seam in the neckband without needing to measure angles and I think it worked well regardless of how acute the V angle was each time. Then, to attach the neckband to the T-shirt involves sewing two very opposing angles to each other. Not too dissimilar to a sleeve placket, only with a little bit extra awkward.

I'm acutely aware that I am a self taught experimenter when it comes to things like this. I intentionally don't search for other online tutorials as then I would feel like I'm presenting someone else's work as my own. But I'm also mindful that I don't really know what I'm doing. My solution is not necessarily the best solution, and for this tutorial I did shoot an email to Liesl to check that I wasn't going about it all wrong. She was supportive and so I plunged on.

P's T-shirt is size 6 with an arbitrary 2 inches added to hem and sleeve length in order to finish each on a dark band of the stripe, and account for his monkey arms.

If only I'd thought to bring the apex of the V down to meet the dark stripe too. Just a half inch lower would have looked so much neater. I cut the neckband a bit wider (about 3/8 of an inch?) than the pattern called for to make my first time a bit easier. It's not perfect, there's a little blip on one side but it wasn't bad for a first effort. I added some twin needle top stitching in orange, just for a bit of extra colour.

Even though it could have been positioned on the stripe better, I do think his is the one with the best "depth of V" of the lot.

Yep, there's another coming.... I knew mine would have to be all in one dull-ish colour in order for me to ever wear it and that wouldn't make for a good photo tutorial. So I made a third with some more photogenic colours. This time for A:

Of course, it's when you photograph something that you don't do your best work, right?! Well, actually, there's nothing wrong with the V neck itself, it's just that I cut it too deep. Lesson learned for the tutorial. What's "cheeky" deep for a grown up is just plain weird on a kid.

But a 10cm strip of stretch lace from Spotlight handstitched to the inside of the neckband seam is a great save. Now that it's there I really quite like it as a little feature. One of those happy accidents in sewing perhaps.

Hers is the School Bus T-shirt in a straight size 4. Note for next time: I could probably start adding a little bit of extra body length for her too.

Trying to get a group photo to celebrate our V necks was a challenge.....

P thought he was hilarious and then there was no way little sister wasn't going to join in with that gag...

V necks, love and peace to all!

Saturday 13 June 2015

Moon rabbits for a birthday gift

I'm busy working away on some things for P's birthday next week and it prompted me to share a gift that I'd made for a friend of A's recently.

We were in the city at L'Uccello and I asked A to pick a ribbon and some fabric to make a skirt for her friend's birthday. She fixated on the ribbon part and so I got to "help" her choose the fabric!

We ended up with the Cotton & Steel Moonbunnies by Rashida Coleman-Hale. Yep, you've seen this fabric line all over the 'net, right? But it really is cute and I figured there's unlikely to be a little girl alive who wouldn't like a teal and hot pink skirt with moon bunnies on it!
The ribbon is a velvet ribbon which matches the pink of the skirt much better than it would appear in the photo. Anyway, once she'd found it and rubbed it on her cheek there was no dissuading my daughter. It had to be that ribbon. And the pattern? the free Lazy Days skirt pattern by Oliver + S.
I sized up my own kid in the shop and bought 40cm of fabric....
And that left me with just enough left over for a little bow on a headband.

Again, a free pattern from Oliver + S, the bow is usually made from felt. I added a tiny 1/4" seam allowance (all I had room for) and cut two of each part instead of one. I stitched them together then turned them right side out through little openings in the middle. That way I didn't even have to stitch the openings closed as they are covered by the centre piece.

The hairband is then covered with a bias strip that I had leftover and which happened to match perfectly! Once more, the instructions for the bias covered headband is a freebie from Oliver + S!

For a final bit of bunny birthday gifting we found a book at a wonderful local bookshop with a bunny character and one of my favourite illustrators - Maurice Sendak

It's fun to be able to make a sweet little set like this and now I'm getting requests for moonbunnies from A too. But how about these sloths, I think we just have to  have those, they're fabulous! Now, about that pledge not to buy any more quilting cottons....

I've been painting a Yoda ("a green one with a beige coat please mum") to the correct colour specifications, and with one more evening to go before the boy turns seven I need to sew it up. Stay tuned for the next birthday instalment....

Sunday 7 June 2015

Neat and Lovely Girl's Clothes - coat "y"

I have a tendency to buy patterns and let them cellar for a while, but with this book I was straight in, first with my jacket, and now a coat.

This is coat "y" which is shown in the book in a gorgeous pink/brown colour combination. I had bought this lovely, soft wool coating from The Fabric Store back when A was a tiny baby with the intention of it being for her first coat.

In my memory it was a much paler, greyer green and I was considering pairing it with pink trim, but in digging it out of the stash I found my memory lacking. It's a perfect autumn green and needed a nice strong, autumn colour for the trim.

It might look like she has no hands, but she does! These are some generously long sleeves and since she's the child in the house with normal length arms they seem pretty long on her. In fact, as she moves and runs around the sleeves are actually just right. Nicely long, but not dangly or in the way.

The coat itself is pretty long too. Sadly, the wool is just soft enough that the interfaced facings are holding their length nicely while the rest of the coat stretches a little, giving that annoying little pinch at the bottom front. It almost bugs me enough to make me want to unpick the hem and turn it up a tiny bit more. Almost, but maybe not that much...

I slipped up slightly in my copying of the Japanese characters and ended up interfacing the upper collar not the under collar, so that also doesn't roll quite as nicely as it should. I see these things, and I'm happy to notice them, as if this was my coat I need to have got them right. But hey, it's a 4 year old's coat. I'm not beating myself up over it!

I couldn't quite work out what the pattern was suggesting finishing the cuffs and collar with. It looked like ribbon in that there was no folded under edge. However, with the curves of the shoulder flap and collar I figured it would have to be bias cut. I've never seen or heard of bias ribbon, so I just made my own bias binding.

The size is 110 which correlated pretty closely to her measurements. It's a perfect fit in the shoulders and body and I couldn't have gone any smaller. These are really nice, tailored fitting patterns. Hopefully she'll grow up and longer limbed without getting too much wider and it will fit well next year as well.

The pattern doesn't include any lining but a wool coat needs to be lined, right?! I went with the easy method of just constructing an identical front/back/sleeves out of lining fabric. and basting it all together before attaching the collar and facing. Attaching the facing to the lining is neater, but requires some thought in cutting the front lining pieces and I was feeling a bit lazy.

Also this very cheap, synthetic fabric ($2 bin at Spotlight) was horrid to sew, so I was glad I kept it simple.

But I had guessed right, she loves those flowers and wants another coat just like this one but with the flowers on the outside. Um, sorry darling, but no. I think I shall have to "lose" the remnants of that fabric.

She was very impressed that she didn't have to hold her sleeves when she put the coat on as the slippery arms don't make her sleeves go up. Clever mum hey?! Just don't tell her that people have used slippery linings for centuries, she thinks it's all my idea.

I wish I could play you the soundtrack to this photo shoot. We were at the zoo which is pretty much in the heart of the city, but there was no human noise at all, just the call of bellbirds all around.

Then we went off exploring and I got no more co-operative modelling, just chicken arms, which she finds hilarious! The game is I have to tray and snap a picture in between the chicken arms. I got two, just...


Wednesday 3 June 2015

Me Made May - of a sorts

'I, Lightning McStitch of, will forget to getting around to signing up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. However, I will endeavour to wear something I've made each day for the duration of May 2015'

Do you know about Me Made May? If you're a sewing blog reader then of course you do. If you read the Guardian online then you probably do too. It's an individual challenge to use, wear and appreciate those things that you've made for yourself. Here's So Zo What Do You Know with the official introduction and the 650+ commenters who signed up properly.

I thought I'd make the effort to wear something I'd made every day and take notes of what gets worn, what doesn't and how not to create crap filler in my wardrobe. The idea of a photo each day didn't happen as the combination of bad light, bad hair days and bad or non existent photographers was all too much. Also, does the world need to know that I sometimes wear the exact same outfit two days in a row?! Some days I'd feel smashing only to see the phone photo and come plummeting back to earth. And that was not the idea at all!

So, on June 1st with the kids at kindy/school for the morning I put on everything I could recall wearing and took some photos for posterity...

Top row L to R:
1: SBCC Tonic2 in merino - got the sleeve length right on this one. great little winter top and it's brown, what can I say.
2: Lisette Continental skirt. Fabric is a DKNY cotton/linen tweed. Love this. Have fabric for another, must get around to making it.
3: Passport/Diplomat knit dress. Look at that unfortunate pattern placement! Aaargh. Still it's so easy to wear, and, you know, it's brown!
4: Carnaby cape. In this weather I could have just taken a photo of this cape every day for a month! Winter here folks!
5: Diplomat camel/settee dress. With a slip underneath it was OK to wear. Forcing a bit of rotation as this doesn't usually get worn.

2nd row L to R
1: Diplomat dress: A bit big and shapeless perhaps? very easy to wear though with tights and boots and that cape over the top!
2: Lisette Passport jacket: for warmer days when my forearms can bare to be exposed but not so warm I'd be inclined to take it off. The insides are horrid!
3: Girl Friday culottes. Some fit issues on my first ever pair of pants but they saw me through summer. Unblogged as my very elaborate blog post has never been finished...
4: Neptune tee: Not great but a black t-shirt is always useful

3rd row L to R
1: Thread Theory Lazo trousers: Pattern test - pattern yet to be released. Feel great to wear, hard to get a flattering photo so perhaps they actually do look awful. Need to work out pants fitting. Or just "work out" right?!
2: Woodland Stroll cape. When it's not a Carnaby cape day it's a Woodland Stroll cape day.
3: Japanese blouse. It's OK....
4: Modified Bento T: so comfortable and easy to wear.
5: SBCC Tonic2 modified to skivvy, merino. Perfect base layer. Sleeves a touch short on this one.

4th row L to R
1: Camas blouse. Bit big but slightly fancier than a t-shirt, so useful in it's own way.
2: Metro t-shirt with keyhole modification. LOVE this top. it's beautiful merino fleece, so warm, thick enough to hide bumps when worn and the sleeves are delightfully long!
3: SBCC Tonic2: Meant to be the same as the green one in the row above. Who sucks at laundry??? I do. Was worn during the month, washed many times until this last wash when it SHRUNK! the end for you little top!
4: Metro T-shirt in thick, snuggly cotton knit. Extreme snuggly comfort. LOVE this one too. the perfect long sleeve T-shirt pattern for me.
5: Coco. What can I say? Pattern kind of sucks, fabric is superb, very snuggly and comfy to wear with tights and boots.

So what did I learn?
I have a pretty darn conservative color palette, but I'm cool with that. You won't see me wearing pineapples (not that there's anything wrong with that!), so I have to remember not to get caught up with buying fabric that I'd never wear.

Tried and true t-shirt pattern are awesome. More Liesl and Co Metro T-shirts in my future. I'd like to lengthen one to a better fitting A -line knit dress.

Pants are hard. I have many pairs of pants that would fit me if only I got back to being a reasonable (for me) size. Maybe I need a month of exercising for every hour I spend sewing...

Obviously there are summery things I've made and liked that didn't get worn due to the weather. But there are some things that should have had their turn in this rotation and didn't. Either due to high maintenance fabric (if anyone can iron my Lotta skirt to make it presentable I'd love to know how) or just not being my style. Time perhaps to purge the wardrobe of some more things....

I really enjoyed seeing everyone else's daily photos. Including their use of "props", some of which indicated the day of the month and others just indicating they're cool with life (Inder!). Maybe next time I'll play along more socially, or perhaps we need a southern hemisphere summer version of Me Made Month.

Back to regular transmission soon with more kid's sewing and I'm working on an Oliver + S modification that I think will be great.... Stay tuned!