Saturday 21 May 2016

Little Kunoichi stencilled tee

A friend of A had her birthday today. Last year she was the recipient of the Moon Bunnies skirt and headband, and so this year I thought it would be fun to make her something again.

This little friend happens to do Taekwondo and ages ago, when I bought Sanae Ishida's book Little Kunoichi; The Ninja Girl, I had bought an extra copy knowing that I'd save it for her birthday.

Around lunchtime I had the idea that we could stencil Little Kunoichi onto a t-shirt. The idea was given the thumbs up from A, and so we headed out to the fabric stash to find a suitable bit of fabric.

I had just the right blue/grey colour for the t-shirt and there was one long sleeved t-shirts worth of fabric left. A bit of purple lightweight jersey was perfect for some shoulder frills.

The beauty of freezer paper stencils is that once the image is traced and the stencil is cut, you can let the kids do most of the painting as it doesn't matter if you go "over the lines"

And yes, as far as I'm concerned a plastick-y princess costume makes a perfectly suitable art smock!

Once A had done the bulk of the solid colour work, I let the paint dry while we ate a late lunch, then I added the details over the top free hand.

Then, that evening I ironed the heck out of the paint to set it, and then sewed up the t-shirt after the kids had gone to bed. Voila, from an idea at lunchtime to a t-shirt just before midnight - with all the necessary play, housework and meal time breaks fitted in too.

The pattern is the Oliver + S School Bus Tee, size 5 width with size 6 length (it's what I had already traced that seemed about right).

I added the shoulder frills by cutting a rectangle of fabric, folding it in half and then sewing gathering stitches along the raw edge. The gathering stitches curved towards the folded edge at each end. The ruffle was gathered, basted to the sleeve with a zig zag stitch and then the sleeves attached.

It was A's idea to add Kunoichi's pet ninja rabbit and I'm so glad she suggested it. How cute is that bunny?!

The kids have decided that no gift is complete without a Schleich animal from the local toy store, so a little dappled pony was added to the pile and the gift was complete.

I hope she likes it!

P's birthday is coming up soon and I seem to have created a mini tradition of stencilling his favourite "thing of the moment" onto a t-shirt for his birthday. Stay tuned for a Pokemon t-shirt stencil, and this time I might take some more detailed pictures for stencilling tips. If you sew for kids and haven't tried a freezer paper stencil yet, then I hope I'll inspire you to give it a go!

Sunday 15 May 2016

...and a Bambiblauw kitten pullover

Once I'd settled on using the Bambiblauw sweater panels from Maaidesign, it was easy to choose which one A would have - it had to be the kitten!

The temptation to try and cut a dress was strong, but she really does NOT need more dresses. She needed warm tops to wear with skirt or pants (please!) during the colder months ahead.

Again, I wanted to go with a tried and true pattern, so I chose pattern "r" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki. I've made the top once before, when it was the base for the insane Beaded PixCell Deer Project and the dress version (pattern "h") all the way back here.

A gloomier indoor photograph turned out to be the better exposure to show off the pale pink and fabulous yellow of the background fabric - and another label thanks to Maaike!

This time around I made the size 120cm (previous versions being 100cm and 90cm) and with no alterations the fit is perfect.

I was very careful to cut and preserve as much fabric as possible, which was much easier than with P's Snow Tiger. And I'm glad I did as I'd misread the confusing pattern layout and added the extra shoulder length to the left front rather than the left back pattern pieces.

I almost let it slide, but it would have meant the button placket would overlap forwards rather than to the back, and I knew it would bug me.  Luckily it was the front panel with the image that was longer than it should have been, and I was able to cut another back panel from what I had leftover.

Now I have a cute pink and yellow spotted t-shirt shaped remnant. I'll have to find a complementary sweater knit for the back and sleeves and make a hooded t-shirt or similar before she outgrows the size.

In a twist of good fortune, I had some buttons that were just the right size and colour. If I remember rightly, they came in a little package from the lovely Mel of Stuff I Make when she sent me an hand me down dress. Thank you!

I'm always delighted by my very basic, mechanical sewing machine's approach to buttonholes. Anytime, anywhere, any fabric she says. Admittedly, the ones that are this close to thick, folded edges take a bit more concentration and pushing of the fabric, but the result is still a very nice buttonhole exactly where you asked for it to be.

In extra happy news the sweater has been very warmly received and is bound to be in frequent rotation. I had some ideas about teaming it with beige, grey or light blue pants, any of which would have been great for the photoshoot, but no, hot pink ruffle skirt it was.

At least I have the power to crop pictures! :)

Thursday 12 May 2016

A Snow Tiger on a Nature Walk....

After drooling over the Bambiblauw panel prints on the Maaidesign website I finally threw some in a shopping basket and hit the purchase button quickly before I could change my mind again.

After much deliberating I'd managed to narrow it down to one panel each and I went with the French Terry loopback knit, as both kids were actually in need of washable pullover jumpers. Buying for a purpose which can't be fulfilled by the fabric stash is OK (right?!), especially when the fabric is just fantastic and unlike anything you own already.

For P, I was tossing up between the Snow Tiger and the Fox but eventually settled on the tiger, which he has since declared is his favourite animal and the subject of his current "inquiry" at school. Nice one mum!

The fabric is a lightweight loopback terry. It's as soft as can be and feels like it should be made into baby clothes. It comes as a set size panel with a selvedge on all sides and the image at centre bottom. The absolute challenge in dealing with these panels is in choosing a pattern and designing a garment in order to utilise the image to its best potential. I'll confess my extreme cutting nerdiness and say that this puzzle was a big drawcard for me!

The fabric arrived one morning very promptly after I'd ordered it, and a perfect warm, windy day that coincided with a rostered day off, meant it was washed and dried by lunchtime. And then I thought, and thought and thought about how to use it...

I'd have loved to make a hooded pullover such as the Rowan Tee, then considered using the Greenstyle Shawl collar pullover pattern that I have. But it became clear that if the panel was to be used for the whole front there would never be enough for either the back or sleeves, let alone a hood.

I was also aware that these panels aren't cheap and I didn't want to try a new pattern on an expensive piece of fabric, so you know what I did of course: Oliver + S

The pattern is the Nature Walk Pullover. I haven't made the top in almost 4 years, although I've used the pants part of the pattern many times over, and for many purposes (school shorts, swimmers, disco pants, elephant costume, Evel Knievel jumpsuit...). The more I thought about it, the more perfect the pattern seemed. There's a pocket, which is a must for this kid, but it's behind the front panel which meant my tiger wasn't going to be stitched on or covered up. Most importantly it's designed for colour blocking, which is what you have to do when you don't have much fabric!

I drafted off the size 7 with size 8 hem and lower sleeve length then puzzled and puzzled to get it all on the panel. The bottom section of the pullover is double layered both front and back. This provides the pocket at the front, but at the back is technically optional and could be left off.

But P is a kid who seems to really feel the cold. The terry knit is relatively thin and as a single layer is more like a thick long sleeved tee than a jumper. So I was going to make that double layer work somehow....

The inner back panel was made by using the small side sections that were left after cutting the lower front panel centered on the tiger. They were joined with the narrowest of seam and just made the width. You can see the selvedge of the fabric was all that was left for the seam allowances:

In my excitement of washing new fabric I hadn't paid much attention to how I pegged the fabric on the line and my panel was a bit skewed and warped. That only complicated the cutting puzzle further! I ironed it and smoothed it flat as best I could and thought I had it all correct. But, when I came to basting the two front panels together at the side seam it was clear that one side of the inner panel was half an inch shorter than the other.

The lower hem would normally fold up and meet the inner panel, overlapping by a half inch or so. The shortness on one side left an opening or "hole" in the pocket so I used a tiny remnant scrap to patch it.

Just on a whim I'd cut the sleeves with an extra inch of length at the hem and I'm glad I did!
I didn't want to lose any of my tiger by doing a double fold hem as per the pattern, so I cut a 1.5" strip of fabric, finished one edge with the overlocker then stitched it to the hemline right on the selvedge edge, making a hem facing finish.
So, effectively, I've added 1 inch to the total body length as well.

He kinda likes the kangaroo style front pocket!

The grey sweater knit is quite thick and matches the doubled terry panel thickness perfectly. It was a leftover form my nephew's knight hoodie and was just the right amount for the upper body and sleeve panels.

The final leftover scraps from the Bambiblauw panel, when arranged flat, only covered about two thirds of an A4 page. Like I said, you've got to love a cutting puzzle - or have really small kids!

Monday 9 May 2016

Choose your own synthetic character fleece adventure

Both kids were very much in need of new dressing gowns and slippers, and if there's one kind of fabric where I just genuinely do not give a shit, it's synthetic fleece.

Until there is a Nani Iro equivalent in polar fleece then it may as well be licensed characters as far as I'm concerned. So of course, that's what they chose.

The pain of purchasing such dreadful fabrics was lessened somewhat by Spotlight having a sale on "licensed character fleece" and then completely removed by how much the kids really love this kind of thing.

The dressing gowns are made using Kwik Sew 2654 which I'd made previously and hated making. The result was fine although it seems to be one of the very few things I've made and never photographed.

I suspect it was in my very first days of sewing knits and I definitely didn't own an overlocker. I figured maybe it wasn't the pattern, it was me, and I should give it another chance.

Since I already had the size XS (4/5) drafted I just added length to the sleeves and hem to make A's version. probably about 1.5"on the sleeve and 2" on the hem length if I remember rightly.

This Disney princess fleece is disappointingly thin but she was sold on it. The proper weight, contrasting fleece on the shawl collar adds a bit of warmth at least.

P's Marvel comic version is the straight size 7/8 and fits fine. The great thing is that as they grow, you just unfold the cuffs and keep using it. Once the length gets to Hefner style hip height, it's time for a new one. Easy.

I had planned to use the sewing machine just for the facing steps and do everything else on the overlocker, but the fleece shifted in such a way that the overlocked seams were likely to miss the bottom layer. I ended up basting on the sewing machine then overlocking every seam.

It was no quicker or easier than my first version, but they do look nicer on the inside.

There was just enough leftovers to cut a pair of Happy Feet slippers each. Hers are Kids Medium and fit well, his are Kids Large and are a bit small. I'd traced around their feet on paper to get the sizing and knew his would be close, but I guess the seam allowances took more out than I'd figured. So, really, still shy of 8 years old he has small adult slipper sized feet??!!

I redrafted the tops of the slippers slightly to be a bit higher at the back heel and to come further up the foot at the front. It reduced the opening size considerably and at least they don't fall off as readily as previous versions of this pattern.

Using tissue paper to stitch through I've added these mini soles of carpet underlay to the undersides. If you like your kids as sliding missiles you can skip this step (at your own peril).

I'm not going to kid you, sewing yucky fleece into boring garments like slippers and dressing gowns did drag on. But it was worth it in the end....

... and while I was faced with the task of stitching the icky fabric I hit the Maaidesign shop and bought some much nicer fabric!