Friday 23 December 2016

Back to the Boy Part 2

It's been such a long time since I made these clothes and I've been so busy and distracted, but in an endeavour to catalogue 2016's makes in the remainder of 2016, here goes...

After the success of the Burda jeans round 1, I launched straight into round 2 with a lighter weight, pale blue dyed denim.

Same pattern, Burda 9406. Same size: 8 with length of 9. Same mistakes regarding zip and fly shield length (NB: this size needs a 1" shorter zip than the pattern recommends and about 1" longer fly shield - or I mucked something up, who knows)

They're topstiched with grey thread, and I used a silver jeans button and some little iron on silver faux rivets. I think between this jeans pattern and  the Art Museum trousers I've got boy's long pants covered until he's an adult!

We were having such a cold, wet spring and I was getting so sick of seeing that Zander hoodie everyday I figured he needed another long sleeved pullover type top.

Back when I bought the Zonen09 Lars coat pattern I also bought the Ole pullover. I'd thought to use the free additional zipper conversion, but the instructions, all in dutch*, required a bit too much tinkering and I wasn't entirely sure I understood what I'd be doing. So I bailed and just went with the standard button up version.
*Note: the main pattern instructions are in English and are very well written, it's just the zipper tutorial that's Dutch only

I was going to have the cardigan close with snaps only on the inside, but the lining fabric I've used is a merino knit and it would never have had the strength to hold fasteners of any sort. Then I found these comically oversized buttons in my stash that matched my ribbing nicely so buttonholes were the solution in the end.

The merino lining makes it fabulously soft and cosy, but it is very hard to get his arms in the sleeves. I had anticipated it being worn over a T-shirt on spring/summer evenings, but this kid is a serious desert dweller. He seems happy in long sleeves and long pants no matter how hot it gets.

The outer fabric is a ponte from Spotlight. Technically leftover from a dress I made myself, but also used recently for A as well. Except that my dress doesn't fit and really needs to be passed on to charity, there could be some seriously dangerous multi-matching going on.

Size was the 128 standard size with no alterations (that I can remember, although it's possible I arbitrarily added sleeve length for monkey boy). I learned my lesson from the Lars coat that the Zonen09 patterns seem to run quite slim fitting. This one's certainly not baggy and I think is best suited to lightweight knits as a substitute long sleeved top rather than a real warm pullover.

I still have all my Christmas gift sewing to document, but time has got away from me.

We're heading out to the country tomorrow until after the new year. My Building Block Dress Book Giveaway will end, and you'll just have to hold your breath until I get back to find out who wins it. :) Sorry.

I've got plenty more to share next year and look forward to some more blog reading time as I feel hopelessly behind in following what you've been doing. Hope everyone has safe and happy holidays!


Thursday 15 December 2016

Building Block Dress Book - Giveaway!

For those of you who don't know, I have a semi-official job as the Tinkerer-In-Chief with Oliver + S.

They make fantastic kid's clothes patterns and I fiddle with them then share ideas and how-to's on the Oliver + S blog. Sometimes it's hard to find the exact pattern you want, especially when you dress  your kids as Evel Knievel, Elle Driver, or a giant Parmesan Cheese. Anyway, the point is, you can search for, then pay for a pattern, or you can work with what you've got.

Now we have a guide book for tinkering and fiddling. Liesl Gibson, of Oliver + S, has produced the Building Block Dress Book, which is an invaluable resource for those of us who want a dress a "bit like that one but not quite". And of course the first thing I did with the book was something that's not technically in the book. I made the basic silhouette dress in a knit fabric.

The Building Block Dress book gives a basic pattern then shows various sleeve adjustments, pockets, silhouette changes, necklines, finishes etc. I've shown which dress options I chose and given more details about this dress on the Oliver + S blog, Click here for the blog post.

I liked the idea of making a T-shirt dress and using various solid knits from the stash. All of these fabrics are what are known as "dry knits" - they're synthetic, lightweight with lots of drape and a nice matte finish. Oh, and they're cheap. These were all various $2/metre finds. The green has already been used for a T-shirt for me, the purple has been used as a dress for A, and the blue and brown were just mellowing in the stash.

I think she's pretty pleased with the twirliness of the skirt!

The Building Block Dress as it's meant to be sewn in a non stretch woven, has a button placket at the back. There are instructions for altering to a zipper finish, various other back closures, or even moving the opening to the front. Of course, in a knit fabric I just eliminated the opening altogether.

The pockets and neckband were bound with a double folded strip of knit fabric - another technique that's covered in the instructions of the book, although using bias strips of woven fabric. once the pockets were sewn the dress came together very quickly on the overlocker. The sewing machine only came out again for the twin needle hemming - which is looking a bit tunnel-ly here, but the dress has come straight off the drying line and been put back on without any ironing.

I detest ironing, which is probably why I've grown to love sewing with knit fabrics for the kids! Speaking of poor ironing skills, my snazzy new photo backdrops that I bought on Ebay have come creased and folded and will take a lot of ironing and hanging to get completely wrinkle free. They're fun though, and a new backdrop definitely helped us to power through this photoshoot on a busy Saturday morning.

Ok, so that's enough pictures of a kid in a T-shirt dress, right? You read the word give-away in the title and you've come this far, I need to let you in on the plan.

When I ordered my copy of the Building Block Dress Book, I figured the postage can be such a big cost, I may as well get two copies and share one with an Aussie/Kiwi as a little pre-Christmas blog gift from me to you. I was going to try and define my postage range a bit better and thought about FIFA World Cup Groupings, but since we left Oceania and joined Asia, it all got confusing and it seems a far stretch to say that postage to Turkey is affordable. Let's just say, if you're in Australia, or believe you're a close enough neighbour, then feel free to enter.

Building Block Dress Book Giveaway

If only I had time I would make a dozen of these dresses, they are so easy for her to wear, fit perfectly and look great. Plus I have a LOT of knit fabrics that need to be used up.

You can find all the posts I've written for Oliver + S via my "Off Track" page on the blog navigation bar at the top, or by clicking the Oliver + S See Me Elsewhere button. Or, on the mobile phone viewing platform, right here. I'm unashamedly in favour of these patterns as they are so exceedingly well written, in addition to great drafting and nice designs.

The Building Block Dress Book is like a huge bundle of Oliver + S patterns all in one place. OK, so it take s a little bit of effort to alter pattern pieces and get the dress you're wishing for, but once you learn how to do it, the world is your oyster.

...and there's an idea for a costume! - Flipper and I were invited to an Alice in Wonderland party ages ago, and I did consider dressing him as the Carpenter, me as the Walrus and the kids as little oysters. I wouldn't be surprised if I needed to make an oyster costume and found some of the necessary techniques in this very book! Did you see Liesl's daughter as Don Juan? Crazy good costume

And now I'm just going to add all the other photos 'cause I can't choose which to leave out....

Good luck!

Pattern: Oliver + S Building Block Dress: basic silhouette
Size: 5 with length of 6
Fabric: various synthetic knits

Monday 5 December 2016

Frocktails: Vogue 1342 aka "that" dress

Flatteringly, I've heard it said that some people think I'm "badder" than I look. :) The truth is, I'm pretty dull; no serious vices, no dark past....

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to a sewing pattern with a reputation. And, like a "bad" rockstar, it seems that you either love, hate, or struggle to relate to Vogue 1342 by Donna Karan

Me? I have a serious fan girl crush on this pattern. Probably in a way that's kind of awkward for a middle aged lady carrying quite a few extra kilos, but this shrink wrap knit dress pattern is brilliant.

I don't know much, if anything, about pattern design but I'm starting to notice that a lot of the time there's a basic block to which various combinations of sleeves, collars etc are added. Then, when a pattern like this comes along, and there is nothing at all recognisable about the pattern piece in its flat form, that's when I feel like pattern designers are amazing and I shall always value their work.

There's no better occasion to borrow a bit of bad, rockstar pattern attitude for than Frocktails. It's not the first time this pattern has been let loose to play at Frocktails, and it wasn't long after I'd picked up the pattern in a sale, that I saw Funkbunny's version and knew that one day I'd have to give it a go.

I arrogantly assumed that the fitting step would all come from fitting the lining, and IF one were to use fabrics with very similar stretch for the lining and the outer, then I maintain that would technically work. Of course that's not what I did, but you saw that coming, right?!

For the main dress I had the grey cotton knit with silver sparkly dots that was already in the stash. If I remember rightly it was $5/m from ClearIt. It's quite a thin knit and I knew I wanted something more weighty and smoothing (let's be honest and say compressing) for the lining.

I'd just made P some (still unblogged) arm and leg warmers for cycling and had just the right amount leftover of this thick, stretchy synthetic black knit to cut the lining. While I got the weights of fabric right - hefty on the inside and lightweight on the outside, I was badly mismatched when it came to stretch.

The black stuff was chosen specifically because arm and leg warmers need to stretch both in circumference and length. So this fabric has a lot of stretch, and great recovery, along both axes.

But not the grey t-shirt knit. That stretched nicely along one axis and not at all along the other. Of course the pattern plainly says the fabric is required to stretch both crosswise and lengthwise so I was being a bit foolhardy.

- as an aside. The common practice of referencing two and four way stretch is a confusing misnomer. Knit fabrics will stretch along one axis (selvedge to selvedge), or both axes (crosswise and lengthwise). When Vogue say two way stretch fabric required, they don't mean that your left and right hands move when you pull the fabric. They mean that it stretches in TWO perpendicular directions.

Having ignored that instruction, what do you do when the bottom hem of your dress is cut on the bias and loses all it's stretch? My solution was to buy some insanely divine shoes and make them the reason why I couldn't take big steps. See, not the dresses fault at all!

I'd drafted the dress in a size 16 blending out to an 18 below the waist. Easily done with the lining, but much harder to work out where and how for the dress outer. A better solution is undoubtedly to split and widen as shown by Cleo and Phineas here.

Because of my fabric differences the lining ended up too wide and loose. I ran the side seams back in and probably ended up with the straight size 16. But then I also added a few darts at the top back as that was gaping a lot. The outer dress on the other hand, was not giving me much wiggle room in the area that need to wiggle most....

The "center" back seam - I say "center" in quotes as there's nothing centered about it, was taken out to the limit of my seam allowance over my rump, but then taken in by almost an inch above the waist.

From the 4 or so versions of this dress I've seen now, I think it's safe to say it runs bigger across the  back than might be expected for the hip/arse sizing. I don't have all that much up front, and while it's roomy there I was grateful not to have to try and figure out how on earth you would downsize the bust.

Due to my taking in the center back seam (which ends up at one shoulder strap), and the very stretchy versus minimally stretchy fabric disparity, I ended up with this major pucker on the inside.

This is where the outer dress is sewn to the lining to hold everything in its gathered, twisty shape. I just went ahead and stitched exactly where the fabric had been pattern marked. I'm pretty sure it was my fabrics and tinkering, but of course, when you've got the whole thing half inside out and are sewing seam allowance of outer, to marked line on the lining, it's impossible to know how dodgy it's going to look. Once you finish and get this, you shrug, think sod it, it's on the inside, and congratulate yourself for sewing with knit fabrics 'cause you can get away with that kind of shit.

Keeping things honest,  here's the front shot of where the lining was about an inch bigger (too much stretch) than the outer and so the V becomes a small saggy U shaped hole.

So, there were plenty of challenges in sewing this pattern, both of Ms Karan's making and of my own, but once you get your head around it, it works. I can see that the steps where the lining is sewn in could be baffling. I find if I suspend any notion of knowing what I'm doing, and completely forget about anticipating how it's going to happen and just do as I'm told, it really does work. If I ever do make this dress again I would be sure to photograph those steps, but in the meantime, if you're having a step-20-what-the-f*&% moment, don't be afraid to ask.

One step that I think should be ADDED is understitching as much as possible of the back and side necklines. It's not that hard to get in under there and add some understitching in an effort to keep the lining from showing too much at the back.

Since I now need to wear those shoes at every opportunity until I die and they are buried with me, I put the whole outfit back on this weekend for a university reunion. (20 years, seriously)

Where I had to unpick the centre seam for my WAS adjustment a little hole formed. It's been interfaced and stitched, but I'm wondering about this dresses longevity... I seriously would do it again, but it would have to be the right fabric. If I ever find a sparkly grey fabric with two way stretch I'm on to it!

*that's a Wide Arse Salvage for new blog readers

Sunday 27 November 2016

Petit a Petit Sewing Block Party

Fashionably late to the party as always.... (or just unaware it was on until it was almost over, you decide)

This month, all around the globe people have been sewing up the patterns of Petit a Petit + Family and sharing them with the greater sewing community. I received my party invitation via Emi and was instantly certain that the Loveralls would be my passport to party fun. 

So, all aboard! Let's party.

The Loveralls are a cute, modern take on overalls, or dungarees. They have plenty of options with lots of additional pocket styles and there's even a skirt version for those girls who aren't up for playing train driver.

I was keen to use fabric from my ever growing stash, and I'd missed the memo to help myself to the fabric sponsor buffet table, so I picked out these remnants of pink denim. That meant I was ignoring the pattern's suggestion for a fabric with some stretch. I did check that the narrow lower leg wouldn't be too tight and they fit fine without stretch, although bike riding may not be too comfortable (eep!). 

I sewed a straight size 6 (slightly above her measurements) and I only wish I'd thought to add some length. By the time overalls weather comes around again I suspect they'll be far too short. But for this weekend out in the country, when spring left us and we had another rehash of winter weather, they were perfect.

I chose the high front bib option and the full love heart pocket. In the week when the world seemed to take a turn towards a stupid and grim future, I found solace in sewing a big pink loveheart on a pair of overalls. Then the feminist in me decided that my girl didn't just need a loveheart on her overalls, she need the hammer loop, carpenter's pocket and all that practical can-do attitude sewn into these pants.

And then, as if she knew it would crack me up, she tied this scrap of fabric around her head and gave me the best holding-the-homefront modelling ever! :)

I already had the perfect gold piping from a previous order from Maaidesign and was keen to match my topstitching and all my hardware with the bright gold of the piping. I found Birch brand overall buckles and snaps at Spotlight, but truly there is too much joy to be lost trying to hammer in crappy snaps. Make sure you source good hardware, or better still get someone with an industrial snap press to set them for you.

Feeling bad that I'd missed out on the fabric sponsor discounts, the ever lovely Emi sent me a gift voucher for Miss Matatabi, where I found this gorgeous lace knit. It's a cream lace in a pattern reminiscent of doilies, backed with a tan merle cotton knit. Beautifully soft and lovely to sew with, I kind of wish I'd added more for myself.

The top is a modified version of the Rowan Tee by Titchy Threads, who is a part of the extended Petit family. I'd previously used the Rowan Tee for my Tron pyjamas, so I already had the size 4 drafted. It's a roomy T-shirt and the 4 is plenty big enough but I did add a heap of length to the body and sleeves as I was certain this long sleeved tee should last into next year's winter.

I took half an inch off the front neckline tapering to about a quarter of an inch at the shoulders and back neckline, then added the cowl neck. It's a rectangle about 8 inches high, folded but with the centre back seams offset by an inch or two to give the twisted lay of the collar.

For the T-shirt I didn't trouble to get the instructions out, but the sewing of the Loveralls was a delight. My beef with many indie PDF patterns is not just the printing and tiling of patterns sheets, that's unavoidable, but often the instructions are substandard. Not here! The instructions are completely printable with neat, clear diagrams and well written instructions for each sewing step. None of those fuzzy photos and constant refreshing of the computer screen for each sewing step.

But don't just take my word for the patterns being great, you can purchase them here, and throughout the rest of November, use the discount code BLOCKPARTY to get 20% off

Or, try your hand at winning the complete set of Petit a Petit patterns using the rafflecopter widget below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now go mingle and check out who else has come to the party. There's been so much wonderful sewing!

Nov. 1st - Sweetkm | Nov. 2nd - The Sara Project | Nov. 3rd - La Folie | Nov. 4th - Hello Holli | Nov. 5th - Chalk and Notch | Nov. 6th - Sewing Like Mad | Nov. 7th - Beatnik Kids | Nov. 8th - Stitched Together | Nov. 9th - Coffee and Thread | Nov. 10th - Made by Toya | Nov. 11th - Stahlarbeit | Nov. 12th - Lily en Woody | Nov. 13th - My Petite Sophie | Nov. 14th - Handmade Frenzy | Nov. 15th - Paisley Roots | Nov. 16th - While she was sleeping | Nov. 17th - My Cozy co | Nov. 18th - A Jennuine Life | Nov. 19th - Knee Socks and Goldilocks | Nov. 20th - Sanae Ishida | Nov. 21st - Little Cumquat | Nov. 21st - Needle and Ted | Nov. 22nd - Gaafmachine | Nov. 23rd - Craftstorming | Nov. 24th - Made by Sara | Nov. 25th - Buzzmills | Nov. 26th - Bartacks and Singletrack | Nov. 27th - Moineau & Petit Pois | Nov. 28th - Naii | Nov. 29th - Just Add Fabric | Nov. 30th - Mie Made Memories | Enjoyful Makes | Dec. 1st - Petit a Petit and Family
Loveralls by Petit a Petit, straight size 6, denim from the stash, quilting cotton lining for yoke and pockets
Notions: Gold piping, topstitching thread, gold snaps, jeans buttons and overalls clips.
Rowan Tee by Titchy Threads, size 4 with 3" length added to sleeve and body (from cuff option line on pattern), self drafted cowl neck collar, cream lace knit from Miss Matatabi

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Summer Pyjamas and a Christmas Giveaway

Hello! I'm over on the Oliver + S blog today with a super simple idea for turning some great knit patterns into pyjamas.


The idea came about to use the Oliver + S School Bus T-Shirt and Playtime Leggings patterns to make pyjamas. Now there's nothing overly original in that, but in case you thought you needed a dedicated knit pyjamas pattern, I'm here to show you that you don't! Click the link above for the Oliver + S blog post.

My kids love wearing pyjamas made from stretch fabric - their Tron pyjamas are all time favourites, and so I thought it was time for some summer versions.

We'll start with P, 'cause you've just seen Flipper expertly modelling that same awesome Pacman fabric. Now check out the boy's moves... :)

Oh, and he's decided this one is his "signature move" (oh for goodness sake)

His are straight size 8 short sleeved School Bus tee and arbitrarily shortened size 8 Playtime leggings. The cuffs are 1 and 3/4 inches deep.

I had just enough of this fabulously fun Lillestoff knit for A's summer pyjamas and she wasn't going to be left out of the wacky poses game:

Hers are size 5 with the T-shirt hem length at size 6 length. I probably left the legs a bit too long, but hopefully they'll fit for a while like this.

So that was easy, quick and cute, but it didn't really convey the Christmas winter pyjama vibe that was the brief for the Oliver + S blog. Even though we have Christmas in the middle of summer, I kind of wanted to make some long sleeved, long legged pyjamas with a "holiday season" feel. Since joining the online sewing community I've learned of this idea of sewing a new pair of pyjamas for the kids for Christmas. Often they're very Christmassy fabrics and sometimes with a whole matching family of kids. Something that can ONLY be done with pyjamas in my book! :)

Off to Spotlight to see what they had on the knit table...

They actually have some really great looking knits there now. A lot of them look oddly similar to some of the "designer" knits that one might see on the interwebs. There were quite a few that would make gorgeous gender specific winter pyjamas but I fell hard for this faux cross stitched pattern.

Add in that it is delightfully soft and not too thin and I knew I had my Christmas in winter pyjama fabric. 

The drawstring bag from Little Things To Sew is the perfect storage or gift bag to put a pair of Christmas pyjamas into. I already had the pattern pieces drafted (I've made the whole book, you see) and the scraps bucket yielded exactly the right navy and burgundy as well as some leftover embroidery thread.

My "make one extra pair just to be on theme" project was starting to get a bit elaborate. Of course it was! 

I used DMC waste canvas to set out the cross stitch pattern and spent one lovely long evening on the couch stitching away. That stuff is so cool. Watching it dissolve and leave your stitching behind is like magic.

So there they are: One pair of size 5 winter knit Christmas pyjamas and a gift bag. Now they're of no use to us, so I had planned all along to share a bit of Christmas love and post them off to anyone who has an appropriately sized kid and who anticipates a Christmas without bush fires and heatwaves.

If you are a Christmas pyjama sewist and as bad as I am at planning ahead and allocating enough time for your projects then I strongly recommend going down the knit pyjama path. As much as I love a special pair of button up pyjamas they are a serious time drain when it comes to sewing hours.

Here's the body measurements from Oliver + S for size 5:
Chest:   23 1/2"         60cm
Waist    22"               56cm
Hip       25 1/2"         65cm
Height  42-45"          107-114cm
Weight  39-44 lbs     18-20kg
If you have, or know of, a little northern hemisphere tacker who might like these for Christmas then throw your hat in the ring by using the Gleam widget below. I'm happy to post them to anyone, anywhere in the world, in order for them to be worn and loved.

Christmas Pyjama Giveaway
Leave me a comment (don't forget an email address if you comment anonymously). As a suggestion for a comment, how about a short tale of your most last-minute, over-done holiday project.

Here's mine:
When I was first dating my husband, my sister-in-law decided that the colour theme for the Christmas table was to be "burnt orange' and I was to provide the crackers. Well of course burnt-orange crackers didn't exist, and after much hunting, I ended up staying up late, carefully covering dark silver crackers in a layer of orange cellophane and then retying the ribbons. The next day the table setting looked fantastic and my on theme crackers were much admired.
The time came to crack our crackers and I was introduced to how the sister in law's family did it which was to cross arms and form a giant circle around the table with a cracker end in each hand.
Then everyone just gently leaned back...
And nothing happened...
Cellophane is seriously strong stuff.
To break those suckers required two people pairing off in the centre of the room and performing what looked like an inverse Sumo wrestling match.
Personally I thought that was a lot more fun.