Friday 21 December 2018

Redemption via the Carousel Dress

To get myself up from my foetal position in the corner of the sewing room after the disaster that was the Ottobre bermuda pants, there was only one possible siren call...

The lure of an Oliver + S pattern. And better still, one of the very few that I hadn't yet sewn.

This is the Carousel Dress. It's a simple dress that's nice and easy to sew but is deceptively well shaped. I'd never paid it a lot of attention as far as patterns go, but I can't begin to explain how good it looks on A. I kept finding myself exclaiming what an awesome little dress it was. The shape is just delightful.

She had been invited to a friend's birthday party that had a unicorn theme. I'd spied this fabric in Spotlight previously and when she said yes to a unicorn dress I raced back to get some. You see, she's going through a no dress phase. Her outfits are usually a pair of her brothers old jeans, a T-shirt and a check shirt around her waist. It's a real Seattle early 90s grunge look. Amusing on a 7 year old, sure, but I was pining for all those lonely unworn dresses.

I haven't photographed the fabric well here. It's a lightweight denim chambray with little unicorns (Ed: A tells me they are called "alicorns" as they are technically a winged unicorn not a regular land-lubber unicorn. Thanks kid.).

I made a straight size 7 - her measurements fit the size 7 perfectly with the exception of height which is much closer to an 8. I simply couldn't be bothered adding length, so it's size 7 unaltered. I was nervous about it being too big and baggy, or shapeless, but honestly, it has the loveliest fit though the chest that makes the A line flare of the dress really pleasant.

This is View A with the gathered skirt. I like the idea of sewing View B in a corduroy for winter, but as much as I keep looking adoringly at this dress, I'd be wise to wait and see how much wear it gets. I think she'd rather I sewed her jeggings and flannelette shirts (sigh).

I sometimes think I must sound like I have taken a big swig of the Kool Aid when it comes to Oliver + S. Then I tell myself that I can be objective, 'cause see, I haven't even sewn this pattern, or that one, as they don't appeal. Then I sew them and they're gorgeous and I fall in love with the simple lines, well drafted shape and lovely, enjoyable sewing instructions. So I admit, I'm a fan girl. :)

And since I needed a pick me up, I know I chose exactly the right pattern for the job.

Pattern: Oliver + S Carousel Dress, View A (check the errata if you have an original paper pattern like I do) 
Size: 7 , no mods
Fabric: Denim chambray from Spotlight
NB: View A is normally made in 2 different fabrics and the fabric requirements lists 1 yard for each. Using the same fabric for both, with this 145cm wide fabric, I think I only used just over 1 metre in total.
Notions: thread chain (busted already, grrr) and single button from stash.

Monday 17 December 2018

Great ideas poorly executed...

Little things can turn what should be an awesome project into something that's a bit meh...

Take my laundry skills for example. I found this bright white lycra with metallic rainbow print and thought it would make a cool leotard for A's gymnastics. I threw the new fabric in the wash with something much darker (stupid, yep) and it turned not exactly grey, but dull white.

A crazy print leotard that is less crazy by virtue of it being a bit grey and a bit faded (in trying to get the grey out) is just an ugly leotard IMO.

I also foolishly mis-remembered the seam allowances as being 1cm and didn't check the pattern. Of course they weren't. Jalie seam allowances are pretty much always 6mm for these type of patterns. So it's come out a touch small - which, when the off white fabric is stretched isn't doing it any favours. It's not see through thank heavens, just less flash than it should be.

The pattern, Jalie 3466 - Anne, has lots of bits where you can add colour blocking bands. I simply overlapped some of the front and back pattern pieces so I could cut them as single pieces, simplifying it all somewhat.

I put some gold flat piping in the front seams though, as I thought it was needing something to highlight the pattern lines.

The sleeve length was at her request as she stipulated elbow length. The pattern seems to have very long sleeves as when she tried the full length sleeve on without the cuffs that are intended to be added, they were already below her wrist.

As per her measurements, it's size L in width with the torso lengthened to size M. But for my seam allowance error I think it would be perfect.

It will be a fun pattern to use up solid colour lycra scraps and I'll definitely try it again. What to do with the rest of the tainted rainbow lycra is the question I just can't bear to think about.

Something else I can't bear to think about is a pair of Ottobre pants that need a major overhaul to be of any use to anyone (except a very heavily pregnant woman with the hips of a small boy - if that sounds like you, please apply in writing...)

These should have been so good:

The pattern is number 37: Forest Bermuda pants from Ottobre 3/2009. In typical Ottobre style there are no illustrations to accompany the sewing instructions, and infuriatingly the photos of the finished garments don't show what 's really happening at the waistband...

And one line drawing of what it might look like when finished....

I was on board with the idea of pants that were essentially pull on pants with a rib waistband and a mock jeans style outer that was relatively low slung.

And I really enjoyed sewing the cute welt back pockets. 

But I certainly wasn't expecting that to be a real functional zipper fly and waistband. How on earth then would the ribbing "open" up? More to the point, what was the point? Why not just have pull on pants that you, you know, pull on? I dutifully followed the zipper instructions and sewed my functional zipper fly then became completely baffled by the facing that the ribbing attaches to and how it should all work...

I searched the internet but couldn't find any mention of anyone having sewn this pattern. I scoured the Ottobre blog in the hope of more pictures or maybe even a tutorial. I also emailed them directly with a plea for help (sounds of crickets).

The sewing brains trust on Instagram was mostly out of ideas... Except for Inder who was quite sure the facing, which is seen in the picture above between the trousers and the ribbing, should be tucked inside the pants, pointing downwards.

And that kind of worked. The gap in the ribbing and the weird triangular hole in the facing made more sense when it was inverted the other way.

Only there were no clues as to what would keep the facing in place down there. It couldn't be stitched all the way around to the pants as that would close up every pocket and the facing is smaller than the pants at that point anyway. It seemed it could only be through the stitching on of the belt loops.

Here you can see some belt loop stitching holding the facing in place at a rather arbitrary height:

Eventually I figured I had got there. I had created some low slung, fully open-able rib waistband pants for the boy - obviously I wasn't going to use the phrase "maternity pants" but it's quite evident that's what the pattern was based on.

My only adjustment to the pattern, apart from possibly completely misunderstanding it and screwing it up in it's entirety, was to add a loop of waistband elastic inside the ribbing. Neither P nor I were convinced the ribbing would keep them up on it's own.

I was so excited for him to try them on... and then so deflated :(


The waistband is ridiculous. I know my kids are pretty normal sized, so it really must be the pattern*. No late term pregnancy, or giant tapeworm cyst is going to happen to the child of someone sewing from an Ottobre magazine so what on earth is expected to fill that waistband???!!

And the whole weight of the pants is hanging from those belt loop tacks so it just looks dreadful.

When I can muster the energy I will take the waistband off, thrown some darts in the back and take in the side seams, reduce the waistband then put it back on. It may be passable but gee what a turd of a project it turned out to be.

I put it in the naughty corner and did the sewing equivalent of washing my mouth to get ride of a bad taste - I sewed a lovely, new to me, Oliver + S pattern. Aaah. Much better.

*If you have sewn this pattern and I am completely wrong and bang out of line, please, please tell me.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Catching up and cotton sewing

Oh my. The year is fast disappearing and I have quiet a few projects that need to land on the blog before the year is out.

When I was meant to be sewing my Frocktails dress, I realised A was about to have her school sleepover and didn't have any pyjamas that fit her in a way that looked acceptable. Of course she had pyjamas that were perfectly comfortable to wear, but the legs were up around her knees... Time for something new.

Years ago I made her some pyjamas from a Japanese Sewing book called Girl's Life, and she had been super keen on the nightie. It was only in the bigger sizes, and so she had to wait.

Here it is in the smallest size (130cm). It's a good fit, although I could lower the armscye opening a little. The way to attach the trim at the sleeve confused me (again) and I studied the previous white pyjamas to try and get my head around it. It's very neat once you figure it out! I also found the plan for the pintucks confusing, again. It would be so much easier if they were marked on the pattern. It wastes lots of fabric to pleat first then cut, but if you cut first you need all those little dart legs for every pleat.

She's happy with it. The fabric was a deep stashed quilting cotton and I was glad to finally use it up. The yellow trim matches the tiny yellow centres on each pinwheel. Yes, I sewed ric rac into something. Shoot me now, right. I can't stand the stuff as a rule. But this did need something and I didn't have any lace of a good shade of blue.

I threw in the chain stitched monogram and it was done, just in time for the sleepover. She promptly had a horrendous blood nose that night, and then as soon as it was washed, she cartwheeled in it and tore one of the armholes. That's repaired and it's back in rotation. Thank heavens for my rule of photos first.

The other bit of cotton sewing I did was to make Sal's version of the Tessuti Felicia Pinafore dress (first one here). Sal tried on mine and declared she loved it just as it was. I bit my tongue and tried not to point out what I saw as flaws in drape and shape..

So I made it exactly the same, which was super easy. This one I seemed to have a tiny bit more fabric and wouldn't have needed the minor bodice and skirt shortening, but I did them anyway so it would be as per the one she tried on. This fabric is also a cool print from Nerida Hansen. (link in previous blog post).

And she got one of Kylie and the Machine's awesome labels. Cause it's true: Sewing is the F'ing Best. I've passed on the pattern to her and hopefully she can make many, many more!