Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Music Class Blouse

I really am trying to sew through some of my long stashed fabrics this year, and when A chose the purple Japanese lawn for her friend's skirt, I asked her if she'd like a little blouse made out of the rest of it. I got the nod, and I was off...

Please forgive the wrinkles, I do own an iron, but this had been worn all day and was about to go in the wash and so I snapped a few pictures first.

The pattern is the Music Class Blouse by Oliver + S, truly one of the cutest girl's shirt patterns. There are lovely little pintucks under the yoke front and back, and a really sweet one piece Peter Pan collar.

Ready for a flashback?

The last time I made the short sleeved version of the blouse, it was also in a Japanese lawn from Spotlight, and A had just mastered her "death stare". You might like to look away from the computer screen if you're feeling vulnerable, it can be quite affronting...


Just for laughs, let's hang around in the past for a bit longer... I made the long sleeved view B version in flannel first, back in the winter of 2012. She would have been about 15 months old...

and then the following year, another winter long sleeved flannel version...

Can you guess I'm a big fan of the pattern? The way the long sleeve placket is done is very simple and is a great introduction to a sleeve placket finish, but if you wanted a proper tower placket then that's now a free tutorial on the Oliver + S website. It would be super easy to mix and match elements of this shirt with the more classic Buttoned-Up Button Down shirt.

And since she has suddenly decided it's cool to wear shirts I might get to update the flannel winter wardrobe again this year. - She has been wearing this old shirt of P's along with her jeggings and rocking a very 90's grunge vibe lately. A new flannel shirt might just be the thing!

Also, throwing out a special Happy Birthday callout to the Oliver + S pattern company who have just turned 10 years old. As you can see, I've been using their patterns over and over for many years and I'm an unabashed disciple of the Oliver + S way. This pattern is no longer available in paper format, but they're having a monster sale of their paper patterns at the moment so check them out, and throw this one in your digital download box as it's a ripper!

Pattern: Music Class Blouse and Skirt by Oliver + S, view A
Size: Straight size 7 - should have added a little body length for that long torso
Fabric: Japanese lawn from Spotlight, long time tashed

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Babies are such cute little diversions....

....and other people's babies are always so perfectly behaved and cute.

I finally got around to visiting an especially handsome and charming (he slept throughout my whole visit which I found very endearing!) little guy born to a sewing friend. Of course I had to sew him some sweet, teensy clothes, cause that is always a great diversion.

This new little friend has just turned three months, so I reached for my Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pattern which I had previously traced off in the 3-6 month size in all views. Thanks past me, you rock!

The tummy and butt room in that bodysuit makes me smile! It's so perfectly "blob" shaped. :)

I had exactly enough of this Japanese cotton leftover to make a long sleeved bodysuit. The fabric originally came from L'Uccello and was used for P's kitchen apron and oven mitts. I'm really digging using up those remnants that I'd kept and then having nothing but tiny scraps going into the bin.

The print is incredibly cute with all these tiny cartoon animals.

For the pants and jacket I thought I'd plan for Melbourne's winter and bust out something warm and snuggly. Some of that marvelous cotton fleece knit fit the bill perfectly. (Maille merveilleuse from Mamzelle Fourmi)

This was the first time I've sewn the pants from the layette set and they're great. I hope the waist band can get over a cloth nappied backside.

When P was this small he had a pair of ready to wear pants that were this style with all fleece tracksuit style material around the back and then denim front panels with all the tiny faux pockets and topstitching of jeans. I always wanted to recreate them but the pattern didn't exist back then. It would be a great way to make baby jeans that are stretchy and comfy - which normal jeans kind of aren't. In fact I'd quite like some fake tracksuit/jeans too!

Yeah I know, babies don't need pockets, but heck, look how cute they are!

For the jacket I used the same cotton maille knit and some navy polar fleece (also used for the waistband and pockets on the pants).

I had some cotton for bias binding that nicely matched the blue of the bodysuit and then figured if I went with more of the beige snaps rather than navy ones, It might all look a bit more "curated".

Ha! I'm curating baby wardrobes out of my stash fabrics now! We've  moved far beyond the point of needing an intervention. :)

Still, I pop my head up out of my rabbithole of sewing madness every now and then and go visit people. We drink coffee, chat, coo over a sleepy baby and suddenly the last minute to midnight sewing of bias binding the night before makes perfect sense!

Pattern: Lullaby Layette from Oliver + S
Size: 3-6 months
Fabrics: All stash - and then the fabulous woman who produced this gorgeous baby restocked me with a big pile of divine fabrics she had been planning to give away at the Melbourne Restash event, but then realised they would suit me perfectly and set them aside!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

All Day (everyday) Shirt

Up to number three, here comes another All Day Shirt with short sleeves for Flipper.

I wrote a little blog post for Oliver + S about that most simple of alterations - shortening sleeves. But it needs to be said that simple as it is, I still cut the first double gauze version without remembering to flare the seam allowance of the sleeve. So we can all do with some reminders sometimes, right. Here's the blog post: Oliver + S: Long Sleeves to Short Sleeves

Oddly, it looks like the sleeves are slightly longer on this shirt compared to the first two. But they're not. I cut at the same point on the pattern and I did the same 1&1/2" hem. While Flipper wasn't complaining, I'd decided that the TRON shirt was fractionally too short, so this one is bout 3/4" longer in the body. That meant that the cutting line for the straight hem was the height of the side seam, so I just folded up the curved shirt tail portion and cut straight across. Then left 1&1/4" open side vents at the bottom of each side seam.

The fabric needs to be mentioned, right?! All along I'd been searching for a tropical print with a dark background that wasn't completely floral but wasn't like a surfboards and campervan quilting cotton either.

I found this Rifle Paper Co. Cotton & Steel fabric at Brave Fabrics and with a nod from the bloke it was game on.

I mucked up the pattern matching across the front placket this time (after thinking it through for ages then miscalculating the overlap). But how about that chest pocket?

The only way to put something in your pocket is to behead the birdie!  Bwahahaha.

The fabric is a quilting cotton, so I'm not going to rave on about its fabric-y qualities, but you know, it's not bad. He's worn it a few times and it's softening up nicely. It certainly has a better hand than the basic quilting cottons I've seen at the big chain stores.

I'd wondered about which colour buttons I'd need, not imagining for a moment I'd have anything that worked. Then these little pale blue ones jumped out of my button stash at me, and dang if they weren't perfect!

Three short sleeved shirts. He can't complain can he?! And since he doesn't grow, I figure that should do me sewing for him for about three years!

Pattern: All Day Shirt by Liesl + Co
Size: L
Fabric: Paradise Garden Midnight by Rifle Paper Co for Cotton & Steel 
Modifications: Straight hem with side vents and short sleeves
Notions: Buttons from my stash via Buttonmania backroom sale

Saturday, 3 March 2018

More stretch! - Jalie LILLIE 3464 leotards

When A's birthday was coming up and I wasn't sure my retro dress wouldn't go down like a lead balloon, I also thought to make her some new leotards.

This time I tried a new pattern, using Jalie 3464. I made size K and added 1" of torso length. I love that the Jalie swimsuit and leotard patterns have a body measurement that is a loop between the legs and over one shoulder. That way it's easy to work out if your taller than average kid is all legs or all trunk. This one has a long torso for her size.

I bought this glittering purple velour lycra when she first joined the gymnastics club as it's their club colours and was very similar to that year's official leotard. I've now learned that they change the leotard (but not the colour) each year and so I'm doubly glad I'm not paying their full price for the club leotards.

Of course as soon as this one had its first wash, all those larger stick on sequins came off! I suspect they may be mostly adhered to Flipper's cycling kit as we tend to wash all the lycra in one load. He might complain that his bike looks old and tired, but he'll have the blingiest cycling knicks in the bunch!! :)

The second version, which was meant to be a surprise, but she spotted it in the cutting pile, was the same pattern in the long sleeved view.

All of these fabrics came from GJ's. The blue was one of their remnant strips and was only just enough for the front and back panels. This wasn't my original colour blocking plan but when I could exactly use up the leftover orange lycra from last years swimsuits and this remnant of metallic blue stuff it just had to be done this way.

She wore this one for her birthday party at the gymnastics club and while we didn't get any official modelled shots (without other people's kids in the frame), there are a few of her in her natural element - upside down and blurry!

I've had a break from stretch sewing over the last few weeks and have a few regular clothing items still to share, but now, it's time to sew stretch again and get into the second round of swimwear sewathon....

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Simple Sketchbook Short

It's the last day of summer and I'm about to sew myself a summer dress, but thought I'd sneak in a quick blog post first.

Not much to say about these shorts: Oliver + S Sketchbook shorts size 8, but the boy's modelling cracked me up enough that they warranted a blog post of their own.

I'm on a kick to use up the fabric in my stash, especially the smaller remnant pieces and this little bit of fabric was a left over from this dress (now too big and handed on so no chance of accidental matchy-matchy).

The fabric is a kind of twill with a pale blue shot effect. It's as thick as a light denim, is gorgeously soft and has a kind of peach silk texture. Needless to say he loves it!

I recently found an old knotted friendship bracelet that I'd made myself in high school. It was knotted on and I wore it continuously for maybe about 4 years before I got to the point at university where I had to scrub for surgery and then it needed to be cut off. The kids were fascinated by it, and by how long I'd worn it - there are specks of Mission Brown house paint on it where I painted the external timbers on our family home and it really tells a lot of stories.

Anyway, both kids had chickenpox last year. They're vaccinated of course, so I had healthy, well, bored and quarantined kids needing to be amused. I taught them how to do simple vertical half hitches and the friendship bracelet craze was reignited. We didn't think it would last past the first day of school as they have a uniform/dress code that prohibits jewellery, but it's hanging in there unnoticed so far.

A nice accessory when you've already (already!!) outgrown the sleeves on your Buttoned-Up Button Down shirt.

Anyway, the shorts: They got some topstitching in pale blue thread to match the shot weave and that's about all there is to say. It's nice to see him in some colour (that's not leopard print ;) ).

Monday, 19 February 2018

Another vintage birthday

Without realising it, I've gone  vintage for my daughter's birthday dress again. The sixty year old tutu for her sixth birthday has been followed by this very Brady Bunch-esque dress for her 7th birthday.

Note: She hasn't watched a single episode of The Brady Bunch but intuitively chose the Alice role for modelling her dress and insisted on a wooden spoon and mixing bowl as props.

In the middle of my lycra sewing I had the sudden hankering to make something in a nice, crisp cotton. I had already cut out a birthday leotard for A, but couldn't resist surprising her with a dress too.

The pattern came  to me via my aunty Yvonne, and I'm pretty sure my cousin Narelle, who would have been a size 6 in about 1977 would have worn this dress. And I'm pretty sure I would have been jealous of it.

It's a single size pattern and so I was keen to use it while I could and be damned if she didn't like it.

The fabric choice was a no brainer :)
It came to me from @topbikephysio 's mum who was clearing out her old piles of fabrics and I suspect it matches the vintage of the pattern.

The pattern has some lovely bust darts - an amusing first for a size six dress - that add a little shape to the A line shift. The neckline is oddly constructed, using two bias strips, one as a facing and the other almost like a mini neckband. I'm not sure it wouldn't have been easier to use one wider bias strip, but the seam around the neckline does help it to behave, so it was an interesting exercise even if it's one I'd never bother repeating.

The button placket on the front is purely decorative and so there's a 7" invisible zipper in the back to open and close the dress. Again, I seriously considered ignoring the pattern and cutting the back dress on the fold and doing a proper button placket (like in this tutorial I wrote). But there's fun to be had in following old patterns, even when the zipper instructions are as brief as "sew zipper in back opening. Follow instructions given with zipper."

I didn't have enough fabric to bother with pattern matching anywhere, but then my faux placket came out being so nearly, but not quite matched. I had to dig out the remnants and cut another placket that would be quite deliberately mismatched. The buttons were some little white plastic ones with tiny etched criss cross markings on them that suited the dress well.

The instructions also gave no indication of hem length. The sleeves were, I think, marked with a 1&1/4" hem allowance, but the skirt hem just said to turn up as desired. I'd been nervous about the dress being very "vintage short" so I added a 1&1/4" hem to the original pattern length and used that as my hem allowance.

I think it's adorable, and thankfully she seems to be genuinely pleased with it. It may not be the first dress she will reach for, but I anticipate it will still get a bit of wear. Well, I hope so, 'cause it's incredibly cute on.

Pattern: Butterick 4042 - vintage out of print (but here's a size 8 on Etsy)
Size: 6 (breast 24") single size pattern
Fabric: Vintage poly/cotton
modifications: Added 1&1/4: hem length

Friday, 16 February 2018

Secret Valentine Exchange and sweet kids

Ah holidays... When I wasn't standing in the river being photographed in my swimwear (eye roll) or riding my road bike up the mountains, or chasing the boys on the mountain bike trails on a borrowed mountain bike... I was stitching.

 ... and eating and drinking obviously. :)

Every year I look forward to participating in the Secret Valentine Exchange, and since it coincides with our annual end of school holidays vacation, I always take my project away with me.

This year I was creating a gift for Simone in the Netherlands. She was very brief in her little survey about her craft tastes. For favourite colour(s) she listed simply: earth, and for favourite styles/textiles etc she said, even more simply: handmade.

So, you can imagine my heart leapt at the Earth bit. I am all over that as a colour scheme! And then I figured the Handmade made part gave me carte blanche to do whatever the heck I liked! Nice one Simone.

I did do a bit of stalking/research via her instagram and web pages to discover that she makes absolutely lovely jewellery. I also saw a very handsome dog pop up in the occasional photo and one of my original plans had been to make a nice dog collar and matching lead set. But then I realised that the elegant silver buckle, slide, D-ring and clip would all weigh so much that postage would be crazy. Another plan....

I'd been wanting to make another cross stitch cushion since the one I made for Sanae herself (one of the Secret Valentine Exchange organisers) and found a simpler looking one in one of my Stitch Idees magazines. - bonus points for getting to participate, ever so lightly, in #sewjapaneseinjanuary.

So my little bundle of Aida linen and DMC threads came away on holiday and during the evenings I stitched, and stitched, and stitched.

Of course it took longer than I had predicted and I was mindful of needing to sew it up quickly when I got home. And of course I failed to do that and made all the same mistakes over and over again that I had made when I sewed Sanae's cushion cover.

To make a fully lined, envelope cushion cover is actually not that hard but it can be a brain teaser to get everything in the right place so that when it's turned out all the different layers are in the right places. I've drawn myself a diagram and some step by step notes and I really should photograph it as well one day. My brief, late night, ill tempered online search failed to turn up any tutorials that showed what I was trying to do.

I had the 28 count linen and DMC threads in my stash, but nothing suitable for the back or lining. I needed some swimsuit lining from GJ's Fabrics anyway and knew they would have the perfect fabrics for this project so off I went.

The backing is a linen of a similar  mushroomy grey to the DMC thread, and then the lining and self made piping was a quilting cotton that co-ordinated nicely.

By the time I had finally figured out the cushion construction I was in no mood to sew buttonholes, but luckily my grey snaps were perfect and in 5 minutes it was all done.

I sent it off to Simone without an insert and I was delighted to see that not only did it arrive in time for Valentine's Day but she seemed sufficiently pleased with it that she went out and purchased a cushion insert for it that very same day. Phew. It's nerve wracking creating for other makers, but immensely satisfying as well.

Meanwhile, a Secret Valentine gift was winging it's way to me, all the way from Tuscon, Arizona. Arriving the day before Valentine's Day I only had to sit on my hands for 24 hours before I could open it.

Where I had been gifted a valentine partner with very similar tastes to mine, I can only imagine my poor gift maker's face when she read my survey. My gift creator was Kirsten, aka @bobbypinbandit.

Her Instagram feed is all colour, delicate stitching and really, pretty things. In making my gift she made something exceedingly beautiful and very pretty but also adhered to my beige/neutral and useful ethos.

She made me this beautiful little needle book. The front and back covers are padded with internal pockets and look at that gorgeous wool embroidery on the front. Those flowers are so fluffy and soft it's crazy!

The internal pages are cream felt, and she included a card of thread, a few needles, buttons and safety pins for me. I'm super-intrigued by the perfect scalloped edges on those felt pages. I'm thinking there's a tool I don't have yet... ;)

Just a few days before receiving this gift I had gone into the city on the train with a bag that needed some running repairs to the leather strap. I stitched it up on the train ride but then was left with my needle and thread hanging out in my coin purse just waiting to impale my fingers when I reached for my coffee money. I'm always joking that "safe" and "elegant" are two states of being that I find simultaneously unobtainable, but damn if this gift doesn't shoot me straight to swanky-safety-stratosphere levels! Thank you Kirsten , it is perfect and stunningly beautiful.

Another little holiday gift was getting to catch up with Maiike of Maaidesign when we were on holidays. We hit the mountain bike trials together then drank coffee and chatted all things swimwear and activewear sewing. A pretty perfect morning in my book!

To finish up, a gift for a kid, designed by a kid.

One of our kid friends was having a birthday, and since this cool little kid falls into the category of having a mum who I really enjoy spending time with, she qualifies for a handmade gift. That's how the equation works, seriously.

My kids get pocket money and purchase gifts for their friends out of their own pocket money, but then for those select kids with the awesome-parent asterisk next to their name, I supplement with a handmade something. My daughter chose the pattern and the stash fabrics and trims and thus this super sweet skirt was created.

The pattern is Pattern C from Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls. I had it already drafted off in size 110cm which A is still wearing 2 years after I made it here. This friend is a bit shorter than A, so I knew it would fit ok. The fabrics are a Japanese lawn and a Nursery cotton, both from Spotlight but long vintaged in the fabric stash.

I would never have put them together but I think she chose well and it's really sweet.

I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day. We've had a birthday at our house too recently, so there'll be more birthday gift sewing to share soon.