Tuesday 29 May 2018

Birthday suit!

I'm going to preface this blog post by saying I do not take on commissions. I don't sew garments for sale and nobody, at least nobody I know, could pay me enough to sew something I didn't want to sew.

But give me an idea that I am interested in and I will absolutely run with it!

A little friend was having her birthday soon, and as she was about to turn 8 she had found a sudden fondness for a tiny size 18-24months blazer. Kids are hilarious like that, right? They flatly refuse to wear something until the sleeves only come to their elbows and their bellies are hanging out the bottom and then it's instantly their bestest, bestest piece of clothing.

I've always sewn something for this particular kid's birthday anyway, and my mission this year, should I choose to accept it, was to recreate this little blazer:

I'd never sewn a blazer before and it's the one pattern that so many of us have been waiting for Oliver + S to release the perfect pattern for (hint hint Liesl!). So, all I knew about sewing a blazer was that I didn't have a trusty pattern. But I knew I would have Liesl to talk me through it anyway, because I'd be using every trick I'd learned from all those other patterns to bring this one to fruition.

Begin the pattern search! The closest match ended up being Burda 9724, an out of print pattern that I managed to find. It's sized from 7-12 years and I was nervous that the size 7 might still be a bit big. To settle my nerves (sarcasm font) I purchased the two sizes of this Vogue pattern thinking the bodice block from that might be the right fit and I could change the hem length and overly puffed sleeves.

I need not have worried, as while my bigger, taller but younger kid measured exactly as per the size 7 measurements, the muslin I made was too small for her. It fit perfectly on the intended recipient and so I sent her mum off to shop for fabric.

She was struggling to find what she wanted on our side of the city when I remembered she may not know about Eliza's, and there she found this eggplant purple, wool tweed that has a lovely metallic gold weave. - and the perfect matching satin lining.

The only fit adjustment made to the pattern was to add 3cm of length at the hem. The rest of the fit was perfect, but it is quite a cropped jacket as illustrated on the pattern cover and it seemed that the un-hemmed length of the muslin was just right. Note to self: for my own daughter I would need to add considerable length mid torso as well as at the hem.

The other changes were to make sure this jacket matched the original. The Burda pattern has font pocket flaps, but no pockets. Easily fixed! The welt pockets from the Oliver + S Art Museum Vest (size 8 'cause it was already traced) fit perfectly under those flaps.

The other change was to add a kick pleat at the back. Here I referenced a Vogue dress pattern that had a kick pleat, but I still managed to muff up the lining part. I'd invented my own depth and width of kick pleat and so I didn't really know how, or by how much, I should trim the lining. Add in that the lining had some vertical ease which would overhang the hem, and some pleats centre back for extra ease of movement, and trying to make my kick pleat lining neat was a struggle. It's OK but it's not really how it should be.

The penultimate pattern alteration was a faux opening at the sleeve. Here I used a similar kick pleat shape but then sewed the pleat closed - a bit like a faux fly on a pair of kid's trousers. That way the sleeve lining could just be straight and attach at the sleeve hem in a regular circular fashion.

For the perfect buttons we took a trip out to Buttonmania where we found these divine "vegetable ivory" buttons. The centre purple is exactly the same shade as the lining, only matte, with a lovely almost suede texture. The periphery is like a shiny wood. There were multiple sizes available and so we chose a slightly smaller size for the sleeves. The very last pattern alteration was simply to use three front buttons rather than the two shown on the pattern

To make the jacket took barely 1m of fabric and my friend had over purchased by getting 1.5m - I guess at the Eliza price of $6/metre it was hardly going to break the bank to overbuy.

Of course I couldn't resist making a quick skirt to turn the jacket into a suit! There's something quite hilarious about an 8 year old in a tweed suit.

The obvious pattern choice was the Oliver + S Music Class Skirt. It's a gorgeous little straight skirt with these sweet kick pleats at the side. I knew the wool tweed was behaving very nicely when ironed and would co-operate just fine with the pleats.

To prevent the skirt being too scratchy, I cut a lining. The lining was cut for the front and back skirt panels and the side panels, all shortened to just below where the pockets end and the pleats start. I also split the waistband so that the inner waistband was the lining rather than the wool.

I sewed a wee tab out of lining and slipped it into one of the skirt side panel seams and then sewed the spare jacket button onto that. It's stitched to the lining as well so it lays flat and doesn't flop around, so the tab is probably redundant, but I thought it seemed a bit of a professional touch ;)

I also used one of my Kylie and the Machine labels that says: Made with Love and Swear Words. There weren't any swear words as it was a really enjoyable sewing experience but that's the kind of thing that was bound to amuse my little jacket wearing friend.

We delivered it on the afternoon of her birthday and she put it straight on over her school polo and modelled it for me - the only payment I ever insist on being a few photographs!

If you can track down the pattern I highly recommend it. The instructions are Burda brief, but it's very nicely drafted and is a lovely sew. I'll be keen to make one for A soon as I think worn with jeans it will be a super cute and very useful little jacket.

Pattern: Jacket: Burda 9724
Skirt: Oliver + S Music Class
Modifications: Jacket: added welt pockets from Oliver + S Art Museum Vest, lengthened at hem by 3cm, added kick pleat, added sleeve pleats, added one extra front button
Skirt: added lining and split waistband to give lining finish against the skin.
Size: Both size 7
Fabric: Metallic tweed from Eliza, fabric content is always a mystery but it behaved and smelled like wool when pressed. Satin lining.
Notions: Interfacing, thread. Buttons from Buttonmania

Thursday 24 May 2018

Comox Trunks Flop

From the dizzying heights of the anorak-of-the-decade we come crashing down to the birthday-trunks-of-no-appeal.

When I was in Jimmy's Buttons I spied some of the lovely, wide elastic that has the soft, brushed underside. Perfect for finally making a pair of Thread Theory Comox Trunks. I measured up the husband in the lead up to his birthday - no subterfuge needed, he shows zero interest in sewing related matters and was not the least bit curious as to why he was being measured.

His measurements put him between the size 34 and size 36. The Thread Theory advice was to choose the larger size if between sizes. I ignored that as a size 36 just seemed to big, so I went lower and made a straight size 34.

I cut them out of this scrap of shark knit (from Spotlight and previously used here) but failed to notice that I'd included part of the selvedge on the underside which for some inexplicable reason is bright orange. There was no re-cutting and so I laughingly added some other random, orange highlights in the hope it might look more like a design feature than a mistake.

Turns out he didn't notice the orange triangle at the crotch seam but was baffled as to why I'd added a key chain loop to his undies. :)

The printed pattern that I have had an error in regards to mirroring the cutting of the fly shield pattern pieces. The errata note was in there with the pattern, but it referred to only one image in the instructions being reversed. In fact the first few steps of the instructions are all altered somewhat and it took a bit of concentration to get the fly front opening correct.

I changed the construction a little in order to make a burrito out of the crotch gusset and not have any exposed seams.

Completely unwittingly I landed a couple of very formidable sea creatures right in that crotch gusset. Is that a Giant Moray Eel in your trunks darling, or are you just happy to see me?

So is he happy with the trunks? Um... no. They looked huge to me as I was sewing them and I even shortened the waist elastic by another inch from the pattern's suggested length. He eventually tried them on at my urging. The waist is saggy, the mid section moderately loose and the leg cuffs probably a bit tight. I've enocuraged him to wear them for more than 2 seconds and give me feedback as to getting the fit right, but to no avail.

Perhaps he's just not a trunks kind of guy.

Not to worry, that brushed elastic will be perfect for gym pants for me!

Sunday 20 May 2018

Jalie 2213 - Anorak time

Do you ever make something, thoroughly enjoy making it, literally gasp when you see your kid wear it, and then have them declare it is THE BEST THING EVER? No, me neither, at least not often...

But just sometimes....

The pattern is Jalie 2213, a now out of print anorak pattern that I got in paper format from Sew Squirrel a little while ago.

P had a store bought jacket that was navy and red (school colours) and that served very well on the cold morning bicycle commute to school. He had outgrown it and his sister gets it now that he has a new jacket to wear. It all came about when I found this fabric at Spotlight....

It's a two-layer, bonded fabric: Navy showerproof nylon outer and a red, microfleece inner. If you have a good memory you're probably shouting at the screen and reminding me that I already have a huge cut of windproof two sided navy/red fleece in my stash (used here) and you're right. But this is a bit showerproof as well as being a whole lot lighter and easier to sew. Totally justifiable.

The pattern is an absolute delight. I find the drafting of Jalie patterns to be spot on. The pattern pieces are always very well marked and match up perfectly. I've made size N as per his measurements with no alterations whatsoever.

That bears repeating. No alterations. This is the kid that I usually add anywhere from 5 to 15cm to sleeves in order to have them reach his wrists. The sleeve is largely part of the the top panel and is generous in both width and length. The combination of generous sleeve length and that shirt tail back hem make it ideal for winter cycling.

The bottom hem can be tightened with an elastic drawcord and toggle to keep the wind from getting in from underneath!

The front pocket is one big kangaroo type pocket with zippers under those storm flaps. I struggled to find zippers I liked and eventually had Jimmy at Jimmy's Buttons shorten some navy zippers for me. It turns out that the pattern requires you to trim the front yoke zipper anyway, so the lesson is to find long enough zippers and then cut them to fit yourself as you sew. Jimmy had cut the zipper teeth to the length I specified and that meant the pocket zippers were slightly longer (the tape above and below wasn't included in my measurement) than required. Luckily I could make my welts a bit longer and still have them hidden under the flaps.

He also dyed some elastic cord and the plastic toggle navy for me - such a gem.

The back of the jacket has a neat air vent opening with a mesh section over the centre back to allow some hot air to vent out. A lovely, professional touch for a sporty anorak. My random fabric shopping had served me very well as I had recently splurged on some active wear fabric (from Sew Active Fabrics) and in that bundle, with no particular designated use, was some red mesh. See, it pays to shop and hoard. :)

That photo reminds me: The one alteration I did make was to add a hanging loop.

There are a lot of panels and lots of topstitching to do. But, since none of my seams needed finishing, I could just trim them, topstitch them down and move on. And so it all came together fairly quickly.

I wasn't expecting a great reaction. He had turned his nose up at the pattern, saying he much preferred a full front zip. He had also asked for thumb holes and cuffs that would cover the backs of his hands. I always like to sew a pattern as it is the first time through and so I stubbornly ploughed on, thinking there could always be another version another day.

And then I was enjoying myself so much with the making that I stopped caring. Then I tried it on and loved it. Yes, it just fits me. A bit tight through the body, a bit too short and the sleeves only just come to my wrists, but absolutely wearable in a pinch. I instantly wanted to make one for me, one for A, another one for P... I'm keeping my eye on the other colourways of this fabric in Spotlight and the minute they go on sale, I'll be all over them.

Once he tried it on, he loved it too and the happy ending was there for both of us to enjoy.

Pattern: Jalie 2213 (now out of print, but hunt it down, it's a gem)
Size: N
Modifications: Added hanging loop
Fabric: Two layer softshell fabric from Spotlight, knit mesh from Sew Active Fabrics
Notions: 3 zippers, thread, and a cute little zipper label that I got from Jalie when I ordered patterns directly one time.

Saturday 19 May 2018

After School Pants

The Oliver + S After School Pants are just the cutest fitting kid's pants ever.

It had been quite a few years since I'd made these pants - A had a couple of pairs as a two year old (here, here and here) and P had some made as jeans when he was about 4 (here)

When I was rummaging in the fabric stash and pulling out other pale pink and mauve things I found this cut of a Bettina Liano stretch velour corduroy. I'd bought it ages ago along with some pale blue (used here and here) from The Fabric Store. A new pair of After School Pants seemed the perfect pattern/fabric match.

These are a straight size 7 and are a perfect fit - although they were photographed in a rush and I hadn't noticed the front was pushed down and not looking like such a great fit after all. They're fine when worn normally, not prancing for photos, or trying to flash your tummy. Trust me.

I thoroughly enjoyed sewing them and was all set to cut another pair but decided that sleeping and getting ready for our holiday probably needed to take priority!

But now that winter really seems to be on it's way, and this girl is suddenly in a pants not dresses phase I can see that I probably will make them again before she outgrows the traced off pattern. Odds are I'll need to add a bit of length though as she's growing like a weed.

Thursday 10 May 2018

Basic Instinc(T) tee

I'm still catching up on blogging about the mental sewing rush that happened in Feburary/March.

It included a basic white T-shirt for me: The Basic Instinc(T) tee

So, there's not a lot to be said about a white T-shirt is there? Well for starters, I'm just super excited that after wearing and washing it for 6 weeks it is STILL WHITE. That in itself is a minor miracle worth repeating. Still white my friends!

While I never will learn when it comes to laundry mishaps I do feel qualified to talk T-shirt patterns. I was impressed with the generosity of Sasha of Secondo Piano in offering up this pattern for free. But mostly I was delighted that she had written a tutorial to accompany the pattern to explain how to do that cool binding covering the back neck seam thing. - and also to do it extending across the shoulder seams too.

To do the shoulder seams as well involves adjusting the pattern pieces and I thought I'd keep this first run simple - so I just bound the back neck line. It is such a nice, pretty finish for a T-shirt. I should endeavour to do it to all T-shirts forthwith (yeah, just watch lazy ol' me stick to that pledge)

How is the pattern? It's beautifully presented, well explained and very easy to download, print and sew. I'll confess to not looking at all of the instructions, so I missed the note to press the sleeve seam allowances towards the body not the sleeve - I've always done it the other way, so mine are pressed toward the sleeve. I should try Sasha's way next time and see if it makes a difference.

I measured between the size S and the size M. With five sizes on offer from XS to XL, I couldn't imagine myself being in the second from smallest size, so I plumped for the M, smack in the middle of the sizing. It's a casual, comfortable size and the shoulder size is correct. But I could easily have it more fitted through the bust and waist. However, I agree with Sasha that showing bra lines is ugh, and this T-shirt is designed to be a relaxed fit and avoid those bulgy, squidgy lines. So from that perspective I chose the right size.

I forgot to take a photo of it, but it looks best if I hoick it up at the shoulder seam with clothes pegs, raising the armhole by almost an inch. Suddenly the weird sleeve wrinkles and the wrinkles beside my bust line disappear.

As a comparison I put on my tried and true T-shirt pattern, the Liesl & Co Metro tee and the armholes on that one are right up there in my armpits. While that sounds less comfortable it works much better for me and gives my massive biceps (self deprecation font) room to move and flex freely.

This fabric needs to be talked about as well. I picked it up on sale at GJ's fabrics as it had some shop soiling. That washed out fine (even with my lack of laundry skills). It is the perfect white T-shirt fabric: blindingly white, thick, stable, stretchy and just superb. And for once I actually know what it is as it still had the Charles Parsons label attached. That also means it's locally made, I think. If you find Charles Parsons cotton lycra then snap it up, it is seriously good quality fabric. My ribbing neckband was a tiny bit of leftover from Maaidesign and required me to make two joins near each shoulder seam to get sufficient length.

I think if I was to sew a T-shirt tomorrow I'd probably take Sasha's neat neckband instructions and apply them to my Metro tee block, but that's just me and my armholes. If you don't yet have a favourite T-shirt pattern then this crew tee might just be your perfect pattern. Give it a try.

Meanwhile I'm going to keep wearing and washing this one on high rotation until it turns pink or grey...

Saturday 5 May 2018

Trying something new

I made a little thing. I wasn't planning on making anything, but as soon as we got back from our April holiday we were off for a weekend of mountain biking and I wanted to take along a little project for the evenings.

So I learnt to crochet.

I first tried learning from online resources and video tutorials but I definitely prefer written instructions to video and much prefer a book to a screen. Then the kids did a short class at The Handmaker's Factory, painting some ceramic bowls and plates on our one free day in the school holidays, and while they were busy, Nichola kindly showed me how to crochet and then gave me a book to take home.

I used some of the Hemptique variegated hemp twine I'd bought ages ago for playing around with macrame samplers. I still haven't really figured out the different crochet stitches, or how to read a pattern. But, once I'd worked out this simple stitch (don't ask me what it's called or whether I've technically done it correctly, OK?) I played around with increasing and decreasing to curve my bowl.

There was plenty of undoing and starting over if I felt it was losing shape but eventually it looked alright. Then I did some rapid increases to get the rolling over lip at the top. It was a bit floppy and I wondered if spray starch wasn't what I needed....

Lacking in domestic know-how I wasn't actually sure what that was, but I was pretty sure it would work. I mixed some cornflour and hot water and gave the bowl a good wetting then let it dry for a few days over a Pyrex dish that happened to be just the right size.

It came out perfectly shaped and moderately stiff and I'm quite pleased with it. Now I just need to work out what to do with it - which is always my dread of learning new crafts - one just accumulates crafty stuff around the house.

Anyway, I made a little thing and I learned a new skill. :)