Sunday 31 July 2016

Dressmaker's Do : Anne Klein dress Vogue 1254

I have gone backwards and forwards on this dress, hence it's taken such a long time to get a blog post up.

Current feeling is a bit meh. Needs some fixing. But it was a rollercoaster of emotions that took me way up before delivering back to the dress loving equivalent of sea level. Meh.

Photographing it proved tricky, and I thank Fabric Tragic for her efforts, but forgot to tell her that if she just keeps her finger on the shutter then we might get some shots without my eyes shut or some weird expression It honestly takes 60 frames for one that I'd publish. Anyway, with that caveat in mind, here we go...

The pattern is this one: Vogue 1254 Anne Klein
I'm not sure how I first spotted it, but I'd been looking for a dress pattern for The Dressmaker's Do. It was a mid winter event and so I knew I wanted long sleeves, and since I'd already chosen my coat pattern, and it was going to be big, wide and swingy, I also wanted a narrow pencil skirt.

Of course, when you find the perfect pattern it's always one that is out of print. The cover picture just looked exactly what I wanted so I set about tracking one down...

Amazingly I found it on Ebay, quite cheap, available for sale and with local free postage. I also suspect that the Ebay seller was a clinical pathology lecturer from way back when I was at Uni. Weird, huh.

I did the right thing and made a muslin in calico first. I chose a size 16 grading out to 18 over my hips. The bodice was tight. Seriously toight! Also a bit too short, as when I squeezed into both the bodice and the skirt muslin, they didn't come close to joining. But it was looking promising. Emotional highpoint

I was not after a two piece bare midriff look, so I added 1.5" to the bodice length and 1/2 an inch to the top of the skirt.

I also thought I might like to be able to breathe, eat, drink and maybe move my arms. So I figured I needed to size up on the bodice.

To save cutting into my fabric and getting it wrong, I went ahead an made another calico muslin of the bodice, this time with the extra length and one size up. I thought it was good. But it hindsight it wasn't. Emotional midpoint, but needed  to get on with it, so didn't stop to dwell. Mistake.

Technically, it was a fantastic dress to sew. I love the origami style detail of the front, and after two muslins I was pretty comfortable with how it all came together. The back has an invisble zip and some nice darts with saddle stitching. Nailed that zipper first go. Emotional highpoint again

Point of note, to future me, or anyone else sewing this dress. The bodice darts don't move with changing sizes, yet the skirt darts do. That meant that if I'd sewn the skirt darts in the larger size they wouldn't have met with the bodice dart. I ignored the pattern and sewed my skirt darts in such a place that they'd line up with the bodice. Anything else would have irked me. Technical hitch noted and resolved. Feeling good...

Then came setting in the sleeves and hand sewing the upper collar. I did the sleeves rather sloppily and while I used lots of gathering stitches and pins, I couldn't be arsed handsewing them in and so there are puckers. Bad me.

The upper collar I sewed about 4 times. Here was where I really wish I had a dress form, as the collar needs to curve over shoulders and then be stitched in place. Stitching it flat meant it kept puckering when worn. It's still not right, and I don't think my fabric was helping me much either.

What the fabric is is uncertain. I bought it at The Fabric Store well over a year ago. It has a diagonal thread warp that probably defines it as a twill. It's soft to touch almost like a wool, but has a black metallic sheen that almost certainly is due to some synthetic content. It drapes very nicely, but maybe this dress needed a stiffer fabric after all.

It's lined with a grey brown silk that I bought for $5/m at Rathdowne ages ago, so all fabrics were form the stash and only the zipper and pattern were purchased. Feeling OK for a "free" dress. I decided to line the sleeves and figured out a way to set in the sleeve, then set in the sleeve lining just on the seam allowance side of the sleeve stitching. Then turn the whole thing inside out through the cuffs before hemming them. Kapow sewing skills! Feeling great, (until I saw how badly my sleeves were set in).

Please excuse my chin for having temporarily left the photoshoot. - and apologies if your pet bullfrog is aroused by this photo :)
I wore the dress and it was OK. It wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, but then I don't have the figure of that chick on the pattern cover either, so perhaps my hopes were unrealistic. What would I change? Well I think I need to take the sleeves off, take in the bodice under the arms, or maybe centre back (the back view is really rugby player baggy), then fiddle with the collar and either go sleeveless or get the sleeves in better, or flatter.

Also the skirt is not as pencil-ly as I'd hoped. It's got a deep kick pleat at the back (a lined kick pleat was a new challenge that got happily ticked off) so i could definitely taper the bottom to give it more of the wiggle skirt shape of the pattern envelope

I had a go at getting the pattern cover lady's smoulder, but kept giggling. It was also just as I was about to depart for the evening's event and all I could see in the photo was the wonky collar, dodgy sleeve and drag lines. Oh well.

Back soon with the coat which was much more to my style of sewing: technically tricky but not at all fitted!

Monday 25 July 2016

Long Sleeved Ts Part IV: Collared Van Ikke Tee

When I was wondering what to put on the front of the t-shirt that eventually gained an embroidered butterfly, I remembered some gorgeous Van Ikke transfers that the lovely Nicole (Five and Counting) had sent me. In my memory the background was lilac, but it wasn't...

It was exactly the shade of blue that I had for some sleeves and t-shirt back. A lighter shade of blue for the front and I was sorted for a fourth long sleeved tee. Or so I thought.

With only these two fabrics I wondered if the t-shirt might look a bit un-girly for my daughter's approval (she's a tough critic) and so I thought to add some shoulder ruffles (like these) in a tan fabric that matches the edging colour of the Van Ikke transfer perfectly.

That was my plan, but then I got carried away and sewed (with the overlocker) one sleeve in and forgot the ruffle. Plan B? I wondered if I could make a faux peter pan collar...

Worked kinda well, really.

I traced the neckline of both the front and back t-shirt pieces onto some baking paper. Then drew a line about 1/4" from that which would be my neckband seam allowance. From that reference line I freehand drew the collar shape, then added another 1cm seam allowance around the outside.

I cut two back collar pieces on the fold, and four front collar pieces. Stitched the front and back collars together at the shoulder seams, then stitched the whole thing around the outside. Clipped the corners and turned and pressed the collar.

It's not easy to sew and turn smooth peter pan collar curves in cotton lycra, but it will do. It's a t-shirt after all.

I basted the collar to the neckline with a zig zag stitch, then attached the neckband as usual with the overlocker. The big question at this point was whether it would possibly lay flat. I'm happy to say that, with a good steam-y ironing the seam allowances have turned under and the collar is laying down nicely. If it misbehaves after a wash then I could just tack the under collar to the t-shirt front on each side.

The pattern is the same Oliver + S School Bus that I'd used for the red skivvy. Size 5 width, size 6 length plus 1" extra sleeve length beyond that.

This t-shirt used up some last bits, and in a way I'm glad I didn't have enough of any one fabric, as the colour blocking by necessity look really appeals to me!

I still have an absurd amount of printed knit fabrics, but the stash of solid cotton lycra knits has certainly been eaten into with these Ts.

And thanks to Nicole I have another one of these Van Ikke transfers. After receiving a bag of outgrown clothes and mother-in-law-made knitwear she posted me this deer stamp and a little red robin stamp. I think P might want the red robin for himself. The transfers are beautiful (follow that link above if you dare!), come with good (multilingual) instructions and are of such high quality compared to what you can do at home with transfer paper.

So there's my favourite of the long sleeved T's. I think Peter Pan t-shirt collars might be a "thing" for me now. It's really kind of cute.
Thanks again Nicole! xx

Friday 22 July 2016

Long Sleeved T's Part III: The Butterfly Effect

Nothing to do with the beating of wings and creation of tsunamis around the world. The real "butterfly effect " is as simple as this: Put a butterfly on it and your five year old girl will love it!

This long sleeved T came about after the cutting mishap with my Bambiblauw kitten sweater. I'd accidentally cut the back panel without the extra seam allowances required for the button overlap. Thankfully there had been just enough leftover to re-cut the back panel and make that sweater up as it was meant to be.

And that left me with one t-shirt back panel. A little scoop out of the neckline and it was "magically transformed" into a t-shirt front panel, then a hunt through the fabric stash for something to provide the rest of the t-shirt yielded the very last bits of cream merino fleece (previously used here and here)

The Japanese sweater pattern has a band added to the bottom, and since this was the last bit of the Bambiblauw fabric I didn't have that luxury. I toyed with using another fabric but then decided it wouldn't be too short, and a lower hem at the back might compensate (weird logic when it's belly coverage you're after, but hey, I make this stuff up as I go along)

I had exactly enough of the cream merino so long as I did use the pattern's sleeve cuffs to get sufficient length. Instead of the japanese pattern's button up neck I just used some lilac ribbing for a neckband.

She was so excited that I'd plaited her hair that i got a lot of rear view photos :)
Then, quite uncharacteristically, I decided it "needed more". On a cold winter's night, with the Tour de France on TV, handstitching takes on a whole new appeal for me, so along came the butterfly:

I didn't have any pale purple embroidery thread, so I used a strand of pink and a strand of light blue together. I forget what the stitches are called, but whenever I want to do embroidery type stitching I pull this book off the shelf to remind myself what I'm doing. In the back of the book are some templates for various flowers, animals, etc. I traced the butterfly onto baking paper using a fabric pencil, put it face down on the fabric and rubbed hard to transfer the pencil markings to the t-shirt.

There was meant to be a whole lot more detail in the wings, but after I started doing one wing it all looked too much to me and I unpicked it and left it simple.

The "butterfly effect" worked a treat. She loves it and has declared this one her favourite of the long sleeved Ts. It's almost mine too, but my favourite is the last one that's yet to come...

Pattern: Modified pattern "r" from Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki
Fabric: Bambiblauw panel remnant from Maaidesign. Merino fleece remnants from The Fabric Store
Size: 120cm

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Long Sleeved T's Part II : Pim & Pom

Shortly after P got his Pokemon t-shirt, I was thinking it was time A got a stencilled t-shirt of her own. She had been talking about which Pokemon character she wanted, when....

We went to see a film about the cutest pair of cartoon cats: Pim & Pom
The Adventures of Pim & Pom is a dutch cartoon drawn from stories dating back to the middle of last century (Wiki link in English: Pim & Pom) and the latest film; Pim & Pom's Great Adventure was being shown at ACMI

The cartoon has a really nice aesthetic with lovely colours, simple shapes and super cute animation. Add in some very catchy tunes and a ripping plot line and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  There was plenty of laughter and quite a few tears (that's my boy!) when Pim & Pom had a falling out and became temporarily estranged from each other.

I had to make a Pim & Pom t-shirt

I must have had the iron settings too low as the freezer paper didn't stick down as well as it usually does and my background shapes ended up a bit wonky. Again, I cut out all the bits, then replaced them all as I ironed the stencil onto the t-shirt.

Then I could remove one part, let A paint that colour before removing the next part and so on. If I were patient I would let the paint dry then replace the stencil but I tend to just let A paint most of the colour block then I do the bit close to the previous colour so they don't overlap.

The T-shirt fabrics were chosen purely by what was in the stash, of about the right amount and could be used up in one t-shirt. Then I tried to mix the pink paint as closely as possible to the sleeve colour and then tinted the blue and yellow paints 'til they seemed like complimentary colours to the pink - to my eye at least!

The T-shirt pattern is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee. My notes say size 5 with about 1 1/2" extra body length and 1 3/8" extra sleeve length. It's plenty roomy enough and long enough so hopefully it will be worn until it's faded!

Much less recognisable than a Pokemon character for the average under 10 year old, but I'm sure Dutch people in their 50's would say "Dat is veel koeler dan Pokemon"*

*bad, bad Google translate user, I know :)


Monday 18 July 2016

Long sleeved T's and things outgrown: Part I

Combined with her habit of wearing her skirts pulled down low at the front, the fact that all of her long sleeved tops were getting too short meant that it was high time the girl got some new winter warm long sleeved T-shirts.

First up was the necessarily boring one which is school uniform plain red.

It's the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt with the neckband widened considerably to make it into a skivvy.

Of course I didn't make a note of widened by how much. I just held my fingers apart, guessed at the width I wanted, then doubled that and added a bit of seam allowance. That's how easy a skivvy is folks!

I used the tracing that I already had for size 5 with size 6 length, then added another arbitrary one inch to the sleeve length to account for my gorilla-esque offspring.

I'd thought that I had lots of plain red cotton lycra in the stash, and so was planning to make two or three of these and be done with it. But I didn't. There was enough for only one. But in searching I found so many other fabric combinations I caught cutting fever and planned another three long sleeved Ts.

We had a little drawer clean out and some too small tops have been bagged up and will be dropped off at the charity bin soon.

Sadly, another outfit is now a bit small for my littlest child, but I think I may have to keep it. Even if it makes no sense to the next generation of costume wearers. With a bit of pushing and shoving, A wriggled her hips into it for one last turn as the broken bone record holder that was Evel Knievel.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Talonflame Pokemon Tee

Distracted by Le Tour, I've been staying up late and handstitching while sitting on the couch. But with a rest stage last night I figured it was time to catch up on some blogging.

So here's P in his birthday t-shirt!

The image came via Deviant Art and an artist: Yonaka Pinku who seems to have a thing for drawing Pokemon.

I cut a freezer paper stencil of the main colour blocks then freehand painted the black lines for the detail.

The fabric stash yielded just the right combinations of red and grey fabrics and dark grey ribbing and then I mixed my paints to match the fabrics as closely as possible while remaining "true" to the Pokemon colours.

He absolutely loves this t-shirt and it's in heavy rotation being worn again the moment it's out of the wash and back in his drawer. Pretty pleased with it myself!

Pattern: Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee
Size: size 8 with body and sleeve length of the size 10
Fabrics: Stash knits and ribbing
Paint/Stencil: Reynold's Freezer Paper and Setacolour Opaque fabric paints.

Friday 1 July 2016

Boy Sewing Week - Zonen09 Lars coat

Hi, it's Boy Sewing Week this week and by the magic of the internet I'm over in Canada talking about sewing coats for boys. Click the link below and go take a look!

 Boy Sewing Week

Julie of Our Chez Nous has lined up some great sponsors for Boy Sewing Week and there are fabric and pattern giveaways. Check it out now, enter the giveaways and then come back 'cause I've got a lot of photos and ramblings about my sewing experience to share...

As luck would have it, it was the boy kid who was next on the list for some sewing. He needs some long pants or jeans, he just got his new birthday t-shirt (which has been worn and washed so many times already I can't pin him down for a photoshoot in it!), but most of all he needed a winter coat.

For the last 4 winters he's been wearing a succession of Oliver + S School Days Coats (seen here).
I figured it was time for a new pattern, and I had this wool stashed away but wasn't sure there'd be enough there to make that pattern with its hood.

A coat pattern without a hood (yes mine has one, I'll explain soon) that I fell hard for is the Lars coat by Zonen09. Instant PDF purchase and print out and I was underway. Word is that Zonen09 may be producing their English translated patterns as paper versions too, which I would love as tracing all the pattern pieces for a jacket takes forever. Here's hoping they add the seam allowances too - what is it with wacky europeans leaving off seam allowances? :)

Anyway, this was a very easy pattern to print (no paper size issues) and assemble. The pattern is quite detailed and I did get out the red texta to highlight the pattern lines I needed to trace.

The pattern comes in two size ranges, both covering 2 years up to 9 years. There is a standard size and then a slim/small size - perfect for the taller, skinny kid.

I measured up P and found he was as tall as the size 134 (9yrs) but his chest, waist and hip measurements were all close to, or just under the size small128 (8yrs). I chose the slim128 and added 1 inch body length and 1 inch sleeve length. I got the body length right, but again I underestimated the length of monkey boy's arms, another inch would have been perfect.

 I 'm pretty happy to say that everything except the zipper and hood toggles came from my fabric stash! The wool melton had been hoarded away about two years ago, the lining fabric is some of the marvellous Maille Merveilleuse (free tautology for the bilingual readers!) from Mamzelle Fourmi that I'd bought a while ago (seen here, here and here). I had just enough navy brushed moleskin for the pocket and collar highlights and my ribbing stash volunteered up some perfect navy ribbing for the cuffs. Darn close to a free coat!

I was delighted that my pattern pieces all fit easily on the 1.5m cut of wool. So much so that I busily downlaoded the free hood pattern (Dutch only, but a hood is a hood, right?) and then cut that out too. Of course that's when I noticed I'd cut the front pattern pieces on the fold as if they were the back and only cut one back piece (that's the back side without the pocket?!). Quite what the fabric requirements would be if I'd got it right I don't know. But, I'm happy to say one can just cut a lengthened size 128, with additional hood, out of 1.5m wide wool accounting for various fuck ups along the way. Phew.

 If I hadn't made numerous other small muck ups, and been under a self imposed deadline to get the coat finished before the kids went out to the country (freeeezing cold) to stay with my folks, it would be have been a perfectly pleasurable sewing experience.

The pattern is great. It's a computer view only one, as the photos that illustrate the steps wouldn't print too well on grayscale, but it's well illustrated and explained. There are plenty of neat moments when leaving a little bit unsewn until the next step allows some magical turning and I had that nice experience of suspending all anticipation of how it might work and just doing as I was told. And it did work out.

At least until he went to put it on in the morning and we discovered I'd somehow rotated one of the sleeve linings a full 360degrees. There's no way his arm could push through that twisty lining vortex, even with an overtired mum urging him just to try harder! of course once I realised what I'd done I could see there was nothing for it but to seam rip the armhole of the lining and stitch as much as possible with the machine then finish with a slip stitch. Sorted.

Various other cock ups included me forgetting I'd cut the plackets the same length as the coat as I was unsure about the cutting lines - turns out they were the obviously shorter ones marked "cut here for placket". Although in my defense some of the pattern sheet markings were still in Dutch, but now I know what Knippen means!

And I was keen to use my snap press instead of velcro for the closure. Of course that means way more precision is required to line up the zipper and the snaps and thus a few more zipper inserts and rip outs and re-inserts than I'm used to ;). As it happens the snaps could be added AFTER the zipper is sewn. That would be awkward to do with velcro as per the pattern but not too hard with magnetic or set in snaps. I think that's the complete list of unpicking....

The other thing I had in my stash was 2m of navy piping which I'd bought recently from Maaidesign with no particular idea in mind as to how I'd use it. Turned out to be the exact length for the sleeve piping and the placket piping with only 2cm leftover!

This coat also got the "I'm good enough tot warrant a label" tick of approval, so in went one of the labels that have come with Maaidesign fabric purchases. Until I can work out how to reconcile a very long blog name and a very complex logo with a  quality label that's not enormous, I'll use whichever little tags look good and suit the garment. So thanks Maiike!

The hood instructions suggested that the hood be attached to the finished coat on the inside, by means of buttonholes in the hood and buttons sewn to the inner collar. I wanted my hood to look more like a duffel coat hood, and I knew it wouldn't get worn all that much so I chose to have it on the outside. The construction was the same, but I added snaps inside the hood before stitching it all closed and then marked and applied snaps to the outer collar before closing the jacket.

I hit up Jimmy's buttons for the elastic cord and toggles and he had the same coloured brassy eyelets, so I bought a few of his. I mentioned what beastly things they are to insert and he offered to do them then and there, but of course I hadn't thought to bring the hood with me. The man is a treasure and I must remember to take advantage of him more often!

After a few practice runs I think the four that I inserted aren't too bad, but the kid is under strict instructions not to play with them too much for fear they rip out. Repeat after me: this is a decorative feature only.

Oh, and the navy separating zipper of exactly the specified length with a nice brassy puller was also at Jimmy's. Treasure trove I tell you!

While the pattern tracing and cutting is time consuming, then actual sewing of a lined coat is really very rewarding and quite fun. There's no finishing of fabrics to worry about. The wool coating doesn't fray and is nice to sew and press. Just stitch, press and topstitch then repeat. I used a walking foot for nearly every seam, only changing to the regular presser foot in order to use a zipper foot attachment.

My final verdict?  I love the pattern but I wish I'd gone up a size, as while it fits ok now, it's slim and won't go beyond this winter. Guess that means I get to do it again next year! I might go up to the standard 132 and still add more sleeve length and then it will last a second winter no doubt.

And P's verdict?

He loves it too. That lining was bound to win him over, it's divine, squishy soft stuff. But the boy who likes to slouch around with his hands in his pocket is a little thrown by the one sided utility pocket. To which I say "ha! take that!"

Have you sewn anything for a boy this week? There's still a couple of days left in the week, and there's still time to enter the giveaways over at Our Chez Nous. I got a sneaky suspicion it might be a Zonen09 giveaway today!! Good luck!

Pattern: Zonen09 Lars coat
Size: S128 with 1cm extra body and sleeve lnegth
Fabric: Exterior main: Wool Melton from The Fabric Store
            Exterior contrast: Navy moleskin from Rathdown Fabrics
            Lining: Maille merveilleuse from Mamzelle Fourmi - Note: pattern advises a slippery liningn for the sleeves. Good advice which I ignored.
Notions: 2m navy piping, 50cm separating zipper, elastic cord, eyelets, toggles, ribbing for cuffs, snaps or velcro