Monday 27 July 2015

Mini City Stroll Wrap Skirt

As I was getting dressed or undressed, I forget which, in one of my City Stroll Wrap Skirts, my daughter was watching me.* She was fascinated by how my skirt unwrapped and became a flat piece of fabric.

"I want a skirt that goes flat like yours Mummy" she declared. And that got me thinking....

* Please assure me there will come a time when I can get dressed or undressed in private again!

The girl needed a Mini City Stroll Wrap Skirt! I had a think about what skirt pattern would be the right base for the alteration. The Sunday Brunch skirt by Oliver + S ticked all the right boxes. Small angled pockets, flat front with elastic back and a narrow A-line shape. Yep, this just might work, I thought, and quickly made the Barbie skirt as a test run.

I traced the skirt off again and this time traced the front pattern piece double. On my tracing I marked a vertical line half an inch beyond the point where the pocket meets the waistband. On that line I marked a point about half way down and then drew a curve from there down to the hemline at a point about two inches past the midline.
That created the front pattern piece. The back pattern piece is almost identical to the Sunday Brunch  except that I folded the kick pleat bit out of the way and cut the skirt directly on the fold. The only other change was to adapt the pocket pieces a little to turn them into two separate pockets rather than one that crosses the centre midline.

The construction was then closest to the City Stroll Wrap Skirt, just minus any darts and with an elasticised back waistband. I added some piping to my pockets.

As well as piping the pockets I used the same thin floral fabric for the facing, which, in hindsight I think I cut way too wide. There was just enough of the pale green lining fabric left over from my plaid City Stroll skirt to line this one too.

The facing was attached with a half inch seam, and since the Sunday Brunch skirt has a one an a half inch hem allowance this skirt is consequently one inch longer than the Sunday Brunch. I hadn't really planned that, but I think the slightly longer length makes it look more like a mini version of my skirt.

The dark blue snaps aren't quite the perfect colour match, but they're close enough and since she can do snaps up herself with ease, they're perfect after all!

This little skirt has gone through all the same rigorous testing as my big version. It's performed very well for bike riding, jumping, skipping about and all manner of four year old girl activities.

If you've got to the end of the blog post and you're thinking: "Where's the link to Oliver + S blog where she shows us exactly how to modify the pattern?"... Well, there isn't one. Seems we weren't the only ones thinking little girls need wrap skirts and there may be a pattern in the future. Which would save you the hassle of altering one you've already got! - and save me having to do it all over again when I need to size up.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Sunday Brunch - straight up

I had an idea for a skirt for A and the base pattern would be the Oliver + S Sunday Brunch. So, first up I made one straight up to check sizing and how it all comes together.

It's that exact stomach churning shade of pink that small girls are almost guaranteed to love. The fabric was gifted to me by a neighbour of a relative and is a nice cotton drill. Perfect for a test run and as predicted she loves her "Barbie skirt".

As an aside, did you know Barbie has had over 36 careers? The kids have recently discovered Netflix and are now regularly showering me with Barbie facts. She's been an Astronaut, a Veterinarian, a Racing Car Driver... And apparently she invented Pinkacillin which is a cure for Plastic Pox. Of course I couldn't let that one slide and the kids then got a very informative (read: long winded) lecture on Pox viruses and moulds and bacteria and their differences, as well as the discovery of penicillin and the launch of modern antibiotics onto the world. Fascinating mum.

I made a straight size 5 skirt and I love the shape and fit. It's short without being an indecent mini. Just A-line enough for plenty of movement and has cute little slanted pockets.

The waist to hip gradient is not great, and last time I made this skirt she was only one. Trying to get it on over a cloth nappy was almost impossible. Now that she has a slim backside the fit is just adorable.

A little kick pleat at the back makes it even easier to run and jump and twirl about. She'd found a bit of old rope in the back street so I was frantically snapping shots as she put the skirt through all kinds of manoeuvres!

This pattern is Oliver + S old school, dating back to Fall 2008. It's now only available as a digital pattern unless you stumble on a paper version on Ebay. I noticed the evolution of the instructions over the years in going back to the very beginning with this one. Curiously, there was no mention anywhere of finishing the side seams. My advice is to finish them together and press towards the back.

It was exactly the skirt I wanted it to be for the modification I had in mind. That one was made quickly afterwards and met with the oft heard exclamation : "That's NOT pink!"

But I'm happy to say it's much loved and is being worn right now. I'll show you tomorrow...

Sunday 19 July 2015

Girl's Sassy Clothes - Hat "q"

What are kids like, hey? No sooner has my daughter outgrown something that she had previously refused to wear, and suddenly she loves it?! I'd made Hat "q" twice before (here and here in Flickr) and she was all over the brown wool version recently but it was too small.

I quickly got approval to make another, and yep, it could match her recent coat. When you get that kind of affirmation, you don't hang around, you get sewing!

Yes - that is lipstick. A recent gift that she loves from my MIL and I'm only allowed to remove that which is all over her face, not ANY from her lips. Sigh.

The hat comes from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki which is one of my very well used Japanese pattern books. This is one that I could happily make everything in the book. The hat comes in 3 sizes, 50cm, 52cm and 54cm. The first two I made were size 50cm. I measured her head at 52cm exactly but decided to go up to the 54cm size to avoid it being too small.

Looking back it was two years ago yesterday that I tried to photograph her wearing the first hat. Note the small food bribe and the hand poised ready to rip the hat off any second:

That picture reminds me that I have two cuts of flannelette fabric set aside for more winter versions of the Oliver + S Music Class Blouse. Mentally added to the very long list of things I want to make.

The brim is a really sweet shape with this narrow brim at the back and a lovely face shading width at the front. The brim pieces are cut on the bias and somehow this hat comes together so much more easily than others I've sewn.

The lining is an identical, non interfaced version of the main hat. Both are constructed and then sewn together at the brim leaving a 2 inch gap to turn it all right side out before edgestitching the brim. This is a nice way to sew a lined hat without having to do any handstitching.

I kept it simple on the side this time and just used a little bias tube of the same fabric to cover the join in the band.

Take note: the band pieces are too short to overlap properly. I added the correct seam allowance, but the pattern shows you turning the ends of one piece in, then tucking the other inside the tube of the first. Simply not possible. These only just meet and overlap enough to be stitched. Need to add at least another 1cm to each side in order for a prettier finish.

I should get around to hand stitching the band to the crown to prevent it sliding up like it has above, but also to thwart my daughter in her attempts to remove and lose the band.

So there's my happy hat model and happy hat news.

The sad hat news is that P's Straw Boater, which I had just entered in the Royal Show (for fun!) has had a hole chewed in it by the small furry monster (aka kitten) that is living with us temporarily. I had some leftover straw braid and thought for a moment I could redo the crown and save it, but on closer inspection he has chewed where the crown meets the lid and damaged both parts. It can be patched for wearing but it's not show worthy.

I shall have my revenge as I'm taking him in to work with me next week and will extract my pound of flesh! (so to speak, I imagine they'll only be about 2grams each, not nearly a pound!) :)

Thursday 16 July 2015

City Stroll Wrap Skirt - Road Test

A little while ago I made myself the new Liesl & Co City Stroll Wrap Skirt and I've been wearing it a lot! The skirt and I have been getting along very well and I'm over on the Oliver + S blog today showing what you can, and can not, do while wearing a wrap skirt.

What I'm also doing is fraudulently passing myself off as someone who has "style" and indulging in one of those "How I Wear It" posts. Yep, seriously. No, I didn't remember to brush my hair and there's definitely no manicure or lipstick involved, but I did manage to get possibly the first ever photo of someone cycling in a skirt onto the Oliver + S blog! Go Check it out:

Here I'll talk more about making the City Stroll Wrap Skirt rather than wearing it. I've been on a bit of a bender recently for "one evening sew patterns". That is, a pattern that once you've got it traced off and cut out, can then be sewn in one evening. Now, I'm not quick, and some of those evenings become late nights or even into the early morning, but they still count as one session sews.

This skirt is certainly do-able in an evening. I sewed the first version the night before the kids and I went to the ballet to see Cinderella. Here we are in a low quality phone shot enjoying our ice creams at intermission, all completely dressed in clothes sewn by me.

I bought this cheap cotton plaid from Eliza fabrics ages ago with plans to make another Continental skirt but never got around to it. It was shifty fabric and I knew it needed lining. Partly in order to wear it with tights and boots during winter, but also to stop it from warping out of shape.
The pattern has the option of finishing the curved edge with a facing, or using bias binding. I liked the idea of bias binding for what is effectively a blanket skirt. The lining should have been as easy as making a second skirt, putting both under the waistband and then binding the hem. I got it into my head that the skirt and lining needed to be attached at the side seam to help prevent sagging of the main fabric. If only I'd thought about it before hand I could have used Nicole At Home's fabulous tutorial for a Hong Kong finish.
Instead I sewed the skirt darts and the lining darts, then joined the skirt and the lining together with 1/4" seams (half the seam allowance) turned it right side out then joined front to back with 1/4" seams. It works as a nice, neat finish and holds the skirt in shape well, but the seams are a little bulky compared to a proper Hong Kong finish and don't lie as flat as they should due to being so narrow. Next time I'll try to remember to do it properly and do it Nicole's way.
If I hadn't baffled myself with my dodgy lining by this stage then I might have properly understood the closure instructions.
The skirt should have an invisible closure with buttons sewn on the inside of one overlapping waistband and the buttonholes on the underneath waistband. It was late and my navy button were looking pretty similar to a navy size 20 snap so I saved myself the task of sewing buttonholes and went out to the shed and popped four snaps in. Done in a few minutes. But done back to front and the wrap is technically the wrong way.
Size: 14 with 1" extra length added. Over the course of a day it starts to feel a bit stretched out and loose. Probably more due to the fabric, but I decided I wanted another, and this time went down one size.

This one is size 12, again with 1" extra length and is a firmer, neater fit. The fabric is a kind of shot denim if such a thing exists. It has the weight of a lightweight denim, a small amount of stretch, and is navy with this lime green sheen and underside.
To show off the green, I finished this one using the facing. Curiously though, the skirt almost never flaps open like regular wrap skirts do. It would take a strong wind, or a particularly spectacular leap for the Frisbee for anyone to see the inside of my skirt anyway.
I'm loving the pockets!

And the back darts had this size fitting me just perfectly with no adjustments (that I don't know how to do anyway) needed.

Because the waist was fitting nicely I did get this one to wrap in the correct direction and put some sew in metal snaps and a skirt bar and hook in for the closure. I'm very happy with this skirt and when summer eventually comes I can imagine I'll wear it as much with bare legs as I'm wearing the other one with tights now.

I'll tell you more about my tops another day, but check out how nicely my bicycle co-ordinates with my outfit! And yes, I probably have enough bicycles that I could colour match on almost any given day of the week! Handbags on the other hand are a choice of two, either black or brown. Priorities my friends!

Edit: It's just occurred to me I made a mistake with my first skirt that probably explains why it was a bit big.
The skirt is meant to be hemmed with the facing or bias binding. I realise now that the bias binding should be stitched with the given 1/2" seam allowance then turned to the inside and stitched down, as if it were a facing. The instructions probably explained that and I didn't look?...
I was in automatic mode and thought "I know all about sewing bias binding after knocking off that Little Things To Sew book" so I bound the edge. I wanted the binding to show so it was a design choice, BUT I forgot to trim off the seam allowance.
That explains why the waistband was a bit big. It's technically an inch (1/2" at each end) longer than intended. Also my skirt will be 1.5" longer than the pattern rather than just the 1" I'd added. If I'd sewn it correctly the size 14 would probably have been perfect. The 12 is a tiny bit too small at the waist and I couldn't quite comfortably line up the waistband with the pocket edge when closing it. A couple of kilos off the frame by summer and it too should be perfect!

Friday 10 July 2015

Basic Bottoms for the Boy

Not because I want to bore you senseless, but because I try to record everything I make, here are some basics for the boy child.

For school uniform pants I've made two pair of the new Oliver + S Parachute Polo sweatpants, and I've got a third pair cut out and ready to sew. I just need a few hours when there is absolutely nothing more compelling to do :)

Yep, it's hard to get excited about sewing navy trackpants. But, oh boy is he happy wearing them!

I added pockets 'cause I knew that would be a deal breaker if there weren't any. There was a time when reading another sewing blogger casually saying "I drafted my own pocket..." would see me awestruck. But it turns out that really, it's not that hard. So yeah, I drafted my own pockets.

While I added pockets, I left off the waistband buttonholes and drawstring. I knew he wouldn't be bothered with tying them and there was no option for any fun contrasting ties anyway.

In case you're wondering why there are so many photos of a boring pair of navy trackpants, the answer is that he has the camera remote control in his pocket and is directing himself in his own photoshoot. I was powerless to stop him.
Actually this is the side view that would look great if you had the option to put a contrasting strip of fabric in the side panel. Mine's navy on navy, but I do want to make another pair for fun with some nice racing stripes down the sides.

Pattern Oliver + S Parachute Polo and Sweatpants
Size: 7 (straight)
Alterations: Front pockets added, left off waist ties
Fabric: Fleece from Spotlight
Verdict: Love the fit on these straight out of the packet. Look much better than the cheap chain store school pants and so much cheaper and better than the official uniform trackpants. Two thumbs up.

I had visited one of those super cheap chain stores that sell school uniform colour skirts and pants in the hunt for some green shorts for P's new team sport. No luck, so of course we went straight from there to the fabric store...

Yep, he's joined the local Lacrosse team in the under 11's. Our team seems to be just about the littlest in the whole league, and we get soundly clobbered at almost every game, but the kids are having a blast and really enjoying playing together. This is his first foray into competitive sport, and his use of the stick is somewhat closer to interpretive dance, or hobby horse riding, most of the time.

Anyway, the right shorts were needed to make him at least look the part. I picked up a metre of this athletic pique knit at Spotlight for only $8 and have made two pair of these shorts already. There's probably enough left over for another pair. I think he's needs some lycra tight shorts to wear underneath as it's just freezing at the moment.

The problem with winter sports? They're played in winter!

Pattern: Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts - FREE Pattern!
Size: 6
Fabric: Athletic pique knit from Spotlight
Alterations: none
Verdict: perfect length for sport shorts. That top on the other hand is so oversized. We had to tuck it in or you couldn't see the shorts at all!
I'd lengthen them and add pockets to make perfect casual shorts.

Monday 6 July 2015

Just Another Tee

Seasonally completely inappropriate, but possibly ahead of the next biggest thing in PDF pattern land for the first time ever.*
I made a T-shirt.

Not just any old T-shirt but Just Another Tee by Monika of Schneidernmeistern

Apologies for the dreadful, grainy photos. It's a miserable, ice cold, rainy day and it's school holidays. So while I'm sure there's a way that a good camera can be manipulated to get decent shots in light like this, there's no manipulating my patience in order to make it happen.

Out of patience too? Well this is the T-shirt you want to be sewing. Seriously fast folks.

It's only two pattern pieces and a neckband. There are no instructions, but I think we can all figure out a front a back and a neckband, right? Well, possibly not, but I'll talk more about that in a bit.

The hem has a nice hi-low curve and is plenty long enough. FYI I'm about 170cm (5'7")

That's relevant 'cause it's one size only, which is a M, roughly correlating to a German size 40-42. When I last bought any clothes in Germany, circa 2001, that's exactly the size that I was. But it's apparent that my hips have seen many desserts since then, and while the top part fits nicely the hem are narrow on me. However, I've decided I kind of like it that way, with a bit of a band effect.

The pattern doesn't include seam allowances (those wacky Europeans) and for some reason I thought that they shouldn't be added to the neckline. That left my neckband being a bit too short and it was quite a stretch to attach it. I chose to attach it as a binding rather than a folded neckband. Cutting without a seam allowance and binding the neckline means that this is as low as the neckline can go (without altering the pattern) and for me I think it's perfect. On people who haven't indulged in as many puddings or are just littler, it could be a bit risqué.
Ok, so you don't need another T-shirt pattern in your pattern stash, do you? I didn't think I did, but this one is a bit different in just enough ways and it's FREE! There's some great inspiration for this pattern on Instagram where so many gorgeous versions have been sewn and shown.
Best mid winter mood lifter ever: Put on some coconut smelling sunscreen and sew up a quick T-shirt. Seriously, it works.

* qualifier: Outside of Germany. This pattern is already all over the German speaking blogosphere but I'm going to claim to be ahead of the wave anyway.