Friday 26 February 2016

The Great Navy Back to School Sewathon: 2016

While I was making bags and softies and fun things I was also busy ploughing through a LOT of navy garments to get us back to school and uniform ready.

As soon as we got back from holidays I attacked a 5m length of navy stretch drill and went all home sweat shop on it. Result: 4 skirts and 4 pairs of shorts for school uniforms.

P still has school clothes that fit, so my contribution for him was limited to these two pair of shorts.
Pattern: Shorts "l" from Happy Homemade Vol II (Sew Chic Kids)
Same size and basic pattern block as these cuffed ones I'd already made. Yep, too lazy to draft a different pattern.

Only complaint is that the waistband is a bit narrow for the shorts. They're also plenty long, so for short legged kids be warned. Next time I think I'll go back to using the Oliver + S Sketchbook pattern

Also from a Japanese pattern book was this skirt.
Pattern: skirt "b" Let's Go Out Girls Clothes - Yuki Araki
I t looks like the perfect school skirt pattern and I really like it, but sadly it's a bit too big. I chose the size (120cm) based on her measurements and it should have been spot on, but it's too long and a bit loose. It will be just right for next summer no doubt.

So then I redeemed myself with a skirt that I am always delighted with. The Music Class skirt by Oliver + S.
Straight size 5 and it's perfect.

Another skirt that I knew A would love, and which I haven't sewn for about two years is the Badminton Skort. The school rule is plain navy, and while I thought about leaving off the scalloped hem, it's just too cute and so far there hasn't been any word that it's too fancy/frilly for school. Yay!
(also straight size 5)

The best bit? The built in shorts which I sewed in a navy cotton knit

Then I decided to bust out some as yet unused patterns. First up the Butterfly Skirt.

This is an incredibly quick skirt to sew, but it's perfectly stylish and is a very close approximation of the "official" school skirt. Again a size 5 for the win. This one will definitely stay on the school sewing list. Maybe with those Badminton shorts underneath?

Another Oliver + S pattern that I'd never yet opened was the Class Picnic blouse and shorts:

Here I mucked up. I'd been tracing so many patterns in preparation for the big sewathon and without noticing it I'd traced the size 10 waistband to go on my size 5 shorts. Both the front and back waistbands were mistakenly way too big.

By the time it came to attaching the waistband it was about 3 inches too big. I made it fit (dumb dumb) but that resulted in an incredibly wavy, stretched out pair of shorts. There is no errata for the pattern and everyone else's shorts looked great, so I knew I'd botched it somehow.

I unpicked it, chopped out a few inches from the centre front of the waistband, creating a seam where none should be. It was only after I'd finished that I checked my pattern pieces and realised my error. Oops.

Anyway they look insanely cute on. Bit like 70's style gym shorts. I love the idea of a non-school pair in a floral sateen.

Finally, another pair of shorts for A:

These are the Puppet Show shorts. One of the patterns from the first Oliver + S release, and one which only goes up to size 5. So these were sewn with a wistful, last time kind of feeling.

My paper pattern envelope was marked as if it was the second printing, but I suspect I should have looked at the pattern sheet itself. The first printing contains an error such that the leg binding is too long and the shorts lack the cute gathers at the side hem/cuff. You can see mine are more straight leg than the intended curvy shape. Still, they also look incredibly cute on and I can see they will fit for a while, so perhaps I'll get to make a non school version for next spring after all.

By choosing different patterns I kept myself amused enough. Just.

Mostly I'm happy to say that I've created 8 garments for school from a $40 piece of fabric, and probably have enough leftover for one more simple skirt. Can't beat that for value!

I've sewn some much prettier things since, but need to find a non navy school uniform kind of day to get my little model on the job. Stay tuned....

Sunday 21 February 2016

Secret Valentine Exchange - what makes the world go round

This is my third year of participating in the Secret Valentine Exchange, and it is pretty much my favourite thing to make for all year long. It's nerve wracking and delightful in equal measure.

The deal is this: Sanae and Ute pass along the details of a "maker" somewhere in the world and you make them a valentine's day gift. Meanwhile, your details are given to another party, and on it goes. Instagram, and thus the entire world (sarcasm font), is taken over with the beauty of crafting for others for the sheer love of it. The world turns on bits of  carefully chosen fabric, paper, metal and wool.

As has happened in past years, I received my email with the details of my gift recipient just as we were heading out of town for our week long holiday. I figured I would spend the week stalking my giftee in cyberspace in order to come up with the perfect gift plan....

Only she didn't exist other than as a real, actual, unknowable person. What I had was this:
She loved natural fibres, simple/abstract designs and the colours blue, grey and yellow (mustard).

That was it.

Since there was no stalking to be done, and since she'd written almost exactly what I had written, I figured I'd set about making something that fit the criteria that I liked. Come to think of it that's what I've done every year (2015 here and 2014 here)

I'd taken my macrame book away on holiday with me, and the local variety shop had some jute twine in cream and blue, so I set about making my handles.They worked out OK, but my first attempt at the leaf shaped pendant was disastrous!

Once I got home I hit my fabric stash for grey linen, some grey and gold striped linen and mustard cotton lining to make the tote bag.

I loosely based the bag on one from a Stitch Idees magazine, using their technique to do the folded corners, yet I changed the dimensions considerably.

Then came the fun bit. My Valentine lived in the same city and so I had the luxury of hand delivering my gift. For that I'm truly thankful as I had a lot of other commitments on my plate and the extra time was relished. I figured I could spend on flowers what I saved on postage, so I filled the bag with blooms...

The paper is made from elephant dung, and it doesn't get more "natural" than that! The kids helped me with delivery and for the first, and possibly last, time they were instructed to ring the doorbell then run!

It turned out my giftee, Pip, was away for the night, but when she arrived home the next day the flowers were still fresh and she emailed me to say she was delighted with her gift. Phew.

My gift to receive, despite having been posted in ample time, arrived late. But of course it was every bit worth the wait. I barely got a good photo of the package, but it was decorated with the most fabulous pair of blue swans  - as you can see I was distracted by, and straight into the chocolate!

But underneath the delicious dark chocolate (how did she know?!) is a gorgeous pair of tea towels and pot holders.

The fabric is a beautiful green/grey colour and the Lotta Jansdotter print is just the kind of simple prints that I do like. My kitchen linen has not, until now, been anything to be proud of, so I'm especially happy to have these to display when I'm playing domestic goddess (a role I play rarely, and badly, but find fun for a laugh!).

I made eggs for breakfast this morning, and A and I got all fancy with keeping our eggs warm and our plates comfy! :)

Caroline, who made these for me, blogs at CJ made. Go check her out, she makes fantastic clothes for herself and styles them so well. Just be careful, looking at her blog might make you want to rush out and buy those statement necklaces that some women wear so well! I really appreciate that making for me was probably a bit outside of her own personal style, but she did such a great job. Best of all, she rides a bicycle, and a nice one at that!

Thanks Caroline, it's been great to "meet" you.

A last bit of gift making was squeezed in, amongst everything else that was going on, when I learned of the Softies for Mirabel toy drive. The Mirabel Foundation is a group that helps children who are orphaned or abandoned due to their parent's illicit drug use. With the encouragmenet of Pip Lincolne, of Meet Me At Mikes, crafters can contribute handmade toys that are then matched to kids and distributed.

My kids helped me with stuffing the toys, and then started to complain that they wanted to keep them. We had a chat about parent's addictions that go well beyond the hoarding of fabric. How serious addictions affect people and their families and the kids may, perhaps, have realised for a moment just how lucky they really are. We sent Mr Rooster and The Monster off along with eight softie alphabet blocks that I'd made for P when he was a baby, and we hope they can bring some joy to other babies or kids.

Making, giving and receiving gifts is such a joy!

P.S. the purple wool is from a Benetton jumper that I bought in Paris in 2001 but sadly shrunk in the wash a decade later. I can still picture the store and remember trying it on and purchasing it. It makes me especially happy to see part of it waving back at me in the form of that little monster!

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Twin needle hemming - a tutorial of sorts

For so long now I've been meaning to share my tips and tricks for twin needle hems that don't break.
Yep, I actually instructed my son to do this for the sake of a photo!

The blog post that runs through the evolutionary path of my knit hemming is up on the Oliver + S blog now. Check it out and add your own tips and tricks in the comments. Clink on the image link below for the Oliver + S post

Saturday 6 February 2016

Bright or Beige: Butterick B6182 two ways

A bit of a dry spell on the blog there and I pass on my apologies to everyone who left lovely comments about my Frocktails dress as I'm only just getting back to you now.

The Monday morning after the Frocktails weekend we headed off on our family holiday to end the summer holidays. We rode bikes, swum in the river, bushwalked in the mountains, read books and were, by virtue of appalling internet connectivity largely cut off from it all.

Perfect for summer holidays I had finally come on board with the "sack dress". This one was my first make of 2016

After all the pre-Christmas muslin fitting of my Frocktails dress I felt I needed a little breather and something simple before I actually cut into my fancy fabric.

I'd been enjoying wearing my Lisette B6182 top and thought I'd give the dress a go. All it required was tracing the bottom half of the pattern and I was ready to sew.

In a moment of either inspiration or madness, jury's still out, I'd picked up this very colourful rayon print from Spotlight with the intention of making a simple summer dress.

It's a very loud print for me but I'm kind of liking it. We're having a holiday to Queensland around Easter time and I'm sure in those parts it will look right at home. And it is summer, I suppose I shouldn't wear grey, black and brown all year round..... although I do, and I like it that way.

The rayon is nice and light and floaty, but perhaps not so well suited to a hot weather sack dress as it feels a bit sticky. In cutting the fabric I was mindful only of not landing a red flower on any one of three anatomical points on the front. Otherwise it was just folded and chopped and stitched up in an evening.

After my Frocktails dress had come together I had a spare evening and decided the Sunday morning recovery breakfast was also an event worthy of a new frock. This time I stuck with my usual colour palette, and perhaps my Frocktails 2016 theme colour - beige ;)

I cut into my Nani Iro Spectacle fabric that I'd bought at Tessuti and stashed away. There had been so many different ideas for what to do with this fabric, and I was at risk of never using it for all the planning and thinking.

Another one night sew and I had a dress to wear to ride my bike into the city - yep this is a cyclist approved pattern. Only hitch was that I hadn't counted on the Cotton Undies Double Gauze Interface Issue (or CUDGII).

I had my perfect light, floaty and breathable fabric this time, but it did want to keep catching on my knickers. I wore a slip underneath and ended up overheating in the summer sun afterall.

The pattern has these neat bust darts from the centre seam that give it just enough shape. The sleeves are a kind of dropped kimono sleeve with a cuff, and then the neckline is finished with a little facing. Truly a lovely dress to sew.

I knew I did not want it to look like I'd matched the print across the centre front and back seams, so I cut out all four body pieces singly. That allowed me to offset them and still scrimp on fabric.

In considering the print, the brown "bushy" part obviously had to be put where it wouldn't offend. There is also an occasional background watercolour "puddle" of yellowy brown that could easily look like a spilt coffee if it ended up on the front bodice, or a much worse accident if it was poorly placed down below. More pitfalls than you might expect!

Pattern: Lisette B6182
Size: 16 (1 inch added length at waist)
Fabrics: Rayon print from Spotlight and Nani Iro Spectacle from Tessuti

Again? For sure. I can easily see how the sack dress gets sewn over and over again whichever pattern you choose. I'm loving the shape and sleeves of this one.