Friday, 22 March 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange Part II - A Year of Giving

I received so many fun ideas back when I requested submissions for projects for things for my summer hands to do...

And I was missing the Secret Valentine Exchange and it's happy vibes so much...

Well, I decided I would run with it every month of the year until the official SVE returns in 2020. So here is my second instalment of the unofficial 2019SVE. I just got word these little critters arrived in the states today so now I can share them.

I made these little trophy head mice using a book that I'd bought a while ago: Crochet Animal Trophy Heads by Vanessa Mooncie (amazon link)

It was the first time that I had tried crochet with anything resembling a chart and I found it completely intimidating when I first viewed it. But, after my success with the school chair cushion, I began to see how the diagrammatic chart and the written instructions were complementary, and suddenly it all started to make sense.

The brown and the white cotton were leftover from my first 2019SVE project: The Bunyip Rattle. Of course I couldn't help myself and I purchased a ball of grey cotton/cashmere so I could complete the trilogy. All of the different cottons came from Yarning Place.

The eyes and nose are embroidery thread and then the whiskers are a heavy gauge fishing line.

This gift was not a suggested or requested one, but rather one that I wanted to make and that I thought I knew just the perfect person to send them to. I posted the three mice off to Jennifer aka Parrishplatz

I first discovered Jennifer's sewing way back in 2012 through the Oliver + S Flickr feed and her crazy good Halloween costumes: Parrishplatz blog

Her sense of humour is second to none and I have previously copied her felt carnivorous plants and intended to copy every Totoro and stencilled/costume gag she has ever made. The Harry Potter inspired mandrake root babies that decorated her front porch last Halloween were brilliant. Now mostly on Instagram, she's one to follow! @parrishplatz

I think I knew she was the right person to appreciate some trophy head mice!

Her cats have their own Instagram feed (@parrishkatzen) and with one cat who has cerebellar hypoplasia and the resultant "wobbliness" that that brings, I thought the idea of some trophy head mice (that the cat would never have been able to have caught herself) would be doubly funny. She's that cool that she has a disabled cat. :)

This was a really fun project and I'm delighted with the reception that the mice had - Jennifer laced them with some catnip and videoed her three cats having a great time playing with them. I have to say, in the short time between finishing them and posting them off, I had them pinned to the wall in our dining room and became rather fond of them myself. Maybe trophy animal heads is a new home furnishing trend?!

Friday, 15 March 2019

Wax Print Birthday Party dress

When I pulled out the dress pattern options for A's birthday dress, an obvious choice (that she initially passed up) was the Birthday Party dress.

And what better fabric for those lovely, crisp box pleats than my left over Vlisco wax print (Frocktails 2018 dress here)

This is a really, lovely dress pattern. A simple, well shaped bodice with centre front and back panels to give it a lovely shape. The centre front panel having these gorgeous, deep pleats that close with either a button tab or a beautiful fabric bow.

I'd only sewn it twice before. Once, back here as a gift, and once for A when she was about two years old.

I couldn't help but give it one last turn. The wax print was not only was the perfect fabric to hold those pleats and look great with the pattern, but I had an oddly shaped remnant with lots of narrow, long bits - just exactly what the six panelled dress required. No other pattern would have fit and I ended up with barely an A4 page's worth of scraps.

I found I had just the right buttons for the back in my stash. Some plastic buttons that had a hint of "bone" about them and looked kind of cool with the fabric.

And for the button tab closure at the front, one last of the metal buttons that I'd used on a jacket way back (gee I loved that jacket and definitely want to revisit that pattern too. So little time, sob)

I know this dress won't get a heap of wear, but it made me so happy to make it. The sewing was a delight, it looks fabulous on, and it used up fabric that would have otherwise been waste.

If it gets handed down to another kid having only been worn once or twice I'll still be happy. The Oliver + S patterns are very much about my sewing journey and the end result is merely cake icing. It's also a great away to procrasti-craft and avoid the boring trackpants or uniform sewing that is probably required...

Which reminds me, the other patterns in the list of those that stop at size 8 are begging to be made as well. I've got the Sailboat, Sunday Brunch or Playdate on the list. Which would you choose?

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

T-shirt Time

Ages ago I borrowed a friend's Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and mindful that I need to give it back soon, I'd thought I'd give it another whirl.

I bought some A4 sized sheets of stretch iron-on vinyl from PicturePerfect and came up with some designs with the kids input.

P wanted something to do with mountain biking and came up with the phrase "This is how I roll".

I found a silhouette of some mtb moves and we were set. He chose the black T-shirt with yellow and white. I stuffed up a little part of the iron on yellow bike (the front hub of the third bike from the left if you're looking for the spot) and in trying to replace it, everything got ironed again and again. That resulted in the yellow vinyl becoming a bit more see through and less solid than it should have been.

He still absolutely loves it. I think it will be a favourite T-shirt for sure.

The phrase we all came up with for A, and everybody thought was perfect for her was this....

If you can't quite read all of it, try it this way: 

She had also wanted some more gym shorts. Suddenly all those many leotards I made are too small, or maybe just out of favour, I don't know. I was loathe to make more leotards in a bigger size just to have them passed over, so a quick pair of knit shorts it was. These are the Oliver + S Nature Walk pants in size 7 shortened. I had them already traced off as they're the shorts I used for P's swim trunks back here, or maybe here. I probably could have sized down a bit more, but she's happy.

I had quite a bit of trouble getting the settings on the Silhouette cutter right for the vinyl. Initially the machine went on the same crazy rampage that it did before Christmas when I first used it. It would jam, get stuck, then go off on a wild angle and slice the backing mat to pieces. Then, if I reduced the cutting depth or pressure it would barely mark the vinyl at all. Infuriating. At this point I was feeling like I could have laboriously hand cut the stencils faster...

The solution was some lithium grease on the cutting bar rail thingy, lots of sliding it back and forth and trying again. I finally hit on the right blade depth (5), cutting speed (4), force (31) and passes (2) to get a good, clean cut with only a slight mark on the mat. Annoyingly, I will need to purchase yet another mat before I give the machine back.

Once I finally had it sorted it seemed it would be easy to keep going, so both kids got a surprise T-shirt in addition to the one they had commissioned.

This sequence of cartwheeling required a bit of tidying up in but then came up really well as a stencil. She was delighted!

And then, for P, I went with an idea that I first saw Brittney (Sewing For Four blog) do a good 4 years or so ago. A little riddle on a T-shirt...

Can you work it out?...

Well done you clever thing!*

All the T-shirts are the Jalie 3669 - Nico raglan T. I made them in the sizes I had traced off last year for the band members T-shirts. 

He wears Size O, no mods - seriously I have NOT added sleeve length. This is the kid that usually gets up to 5 inches of extra sleeve length. I think he could do with a touch more length than this pattern but it's obviously a very generous sleeve length if it fits the monkey child straight out of the packet.

She wears Jalie Nico size M, no mods. (and Nature Walk pants as shorts, size 7)

All fabrics were out of the stash and I just used self fabric for the neckbands. Not perfect for neckbands, but good enough.

It was a lot of fun and I kind of wish Flipper wanted a meme T-shirt too. What he does want is some more leg and arm warmers and to have reflective iron on vinyl monograms. Well, it just so happens I got some reflective iron on vinyl too. I better cut those letters before giving the machine back, or forgetting how to set it up for successful cutting.

*If you didn't get it, the clue is it's the title of a Dr Seuss book.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

End of summer Perth Dress

It was cooling off and feeling like summer was over in mid February and then a sudden, late heatwave just before the official first day of Autumn had me scurrying to make one last summer dress.

I'd planned this dress last summer and never got around to it. When the weather forecast predicted 38C on the day of a school fundraiser evening party, I had the perfect occasion and motivation to get it sewn.

The pattern is the Perth Dress by Carolyn & Cassie. I'd already traced off the size 40 last year and so I cut it out in one evening, sewed it almost entirely the following evening, and then added the collar and finished it off in the brief afternoon period between work and school function.

It's a fairly straight forward sew and the instructions were perfectly fine. I was going to use a new method of doing the pockets that I just learned from a Japanese sewing book, but I forgot and went ahead with a more regular way - and the way this pattern had it described as well. I should photograph and blog the Japanese technique as it results in a finished pocket seam allowance towards the back and an open finished side seam with no snipping seam allowances or weak spots. It's kinda magic.

I sewed the sleeves in flat as I find that quicker, but otherwise I followed the instructions.

Fitwise, I'm happy with it except that the collar sits a bit far back for me. I don't think it's the shoulder seam as that's sufficiently forward such that the sleeve head sits well. But I think I would need to do a considerable high, round neck adjustment to get that collar to sit closer to my back neck.

It's noticeable with this pattern as the way the pleat at the front is formed is by closing the collar - you really can't wear the dress unbuttoned. Buttoning up the collar makes it clear that it's sitting too low at the back as the front feels a bit too close. Not choking, but overly close.

I recall only doing a high, round neck adjustment once on a Vogue pattern and that was only by about 1cm. This one looks to need closer to an inch. I was thinking to go back to my Liesl + Co Recital Shirt and button it all the way up to see how that feels. I wonder if it's an adjustment I would often need to do and I just never notice it because I don't wear things buttoned up...

I suspect it may be both: That the pattern leans a little to the low side, and I am a little to the high side.

This photo gives the truest representation of the fabric colour (but there was way too much squinting into the light for it to be a good photo spot :) ). It's a super light linen from Phillips Shirts that I bought over a year ago.

I threw it on for the school party and was perfectly comfy and received a few compliments on the night. I volunteered to sell cold drinks on one of the stalls and was kept very busy. The length of the dress had me mindful of how I bent over to rummage in the bottom of the ice buckets - it's short, but I think it needs to be to balance the width and shape.

Two days later I threw it on again (hence the wrinkles) for these photos at a dinner party but given that it hailed today I suspect summer really is finally over. It can be hung up and will still seem new next spring!

It's feeling like time to start sewing outerwear and jeans. I'm not overly fond of cold weather, but I do love sewing cold weather clothes.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Thread Theory Jutland Pants

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest of places. I've bought a few Thread Theory patterns and sat on them for a long time. Specifically I've been meaning to muslin the Jutland Pants for Flipper for years.

Over that time I've bought quite a few metres of "trouser muslin" fabric with just that intention and then used it for other things. After sewing P's brown cargoes, A's brown culottes, then my own brown culottes, and photographing them all in front of the same purple wall, I suddenly decided that the last family member must have brown trousers and be posed in exactly the same way.

If that's not a perfectly valid reason to sew a pair of trousers then what is? :)

The Jutland Trousers are described as being a relaxed fit and I'd been intending to make the casual, hardworking pants option with cargo pockets and maybe even turning them into the long shorts he has always favoured.

But when I showed Flipper the pattern and the proposed fabric ($4/m mystery drill from Eliza's) he chose view A and suggested a pair of work trousers would be better.

He measured between the size 34 and size 36, but after my baggy, saggy arsed Comox trunks I thought we'd go down to the 34 and he had that ready-to-wear mentality that that was his size so why vary (well 'cause none of us are pattern and shop size matches, it just takes us ages of sewing to learn that!)

As they've turned out, they're a great office trouser fit. Looking at the pattern product images mine are certainly a slimmer fit than the pattern intends. Should I have made the causal cargo shorts in this size I think they'd be too narrow fitting for being comfy summer shorts. But, not bad for a straight out of the packet first try muslin, right?

I used some leftover quilting cotton for the trouser pockets and the waistband facing. There's a glimpse of it here where I delighted myself by getting my pocket edge understitching lined up pretty darn perfectly with my edgestitching. Kapow!!

Not knowing if they'd fit, I was lazy and just zig zag stitched all the seam allowances, although the inside leg seam is a flat felled seam. The finish on the welt pockets on the inside is very lovely and the front pockets are french seamed. If you were to follow the full instructions and bind the crotch seam allowances and the waistband facing, you'd haven exquisitely made pair of pants.

The welt pocket instructions were great, and the only spot where I made any changes was in the fly construction. But really, all I did was to trim the seam allowance on one side so that it finished in line with the fly shield and looked less like an redundant fabric flap.

So, I've set him the task of wearing them for as long as it might take me to ever getting around to making the next pair and then giving me fit notes about what's good or bad about them. 

Size: 34
Mods: None. hem turned up 2&1/2" here
Fabric: Stash poly drill and cotton for pocket bags etc

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Jump Rope Birthday Dress

It occurred to me, about three days out from A's eighth birthday that I didn't have a new dress to gift her. I've been sewing lots for her lately but a birthday called for a special dress.

It also dawned on me that there is a whole bundle of Oliver + S patterns that stop at size 8 (sniff). I desperately wanted to give at least one of them one last turn on the machine. I pulled out three patterns (Jump Rope, Playdate and Birthday Party) and some fabrics I thought would match. I made some pairings of fabric and pattern and let her choose. Of course she chose a different fabric/pattern pairing than I'd envisioned....

… And she chose the most complicated of all the patterns knowing full well I only had a few sewing sessions before the upcoming birthday. Cheeky sod.

So this is the Jump Rope Dress, view A. It happens to be the first pattern I ever sewed for her. Once I"d come home with my new baby girl, the very first thing I made was a size 2 Jump Rope dress in a Heather Ross fabric. It looked enormous next to this newborn (I'd say little newborn but she was a whopping 4.2kg at birth). it took her almost two years to grow into it. But here it is being worn.

I've always had a soft spot for this pattern. I've made the View A four times now and the View B once, and used the placket to make polo tops for her too. The placket instructions were one of the first sewing things that made me feel like a superstar.

The fabric that she chose was the one I had paired up with the Playdate dress. It's a synthetic something or other that is incredibly soft and has the black floral motif as a flocked velvet effect. I had it in mind as a more autumn/winter dress but she was not to be swayed.

The Playdate is a dress pattern I've only sewn once before and I remember being so delighted with it I wondered why I ever delayed. I'm definitely going to revisit that one while she's still a size 8, and maybe in another double gauze like the first.

I've got a feeling the fabric came from a local vietnamese fabric shop and so was probably less than $5/m. I've had it in the stash for a while now and I've no idea how long the cut was, but this dress pattern fit on it with less than an A4 page area leftover at the end. Seriously satisfying.

The metal buttons were in my button stash and have these sweet little carriages on them.

Don't look too closely at the fabric's pattern lines. There was only just enough fabric to cut the dress pattern and definitely not enough to think about matching the background plaid. That's kind of liberating really. ;)

As predicted, I thoroughly enjoyed the sewing, and while there's lots of steps with pockets, beltloops and belt, sleeve tabs, collar and placket... It all still came together easily and fairly rapidly.

The fit on this little dress is just divine. I'd be delighted if a shirtdress bodice came straight out of the packet and fit my shoulders, chest and waist like that!

Of course I'd traced off view B as well and once I saw that bodice fit I couldn't help myself but sewed that version up too! You'll have to wait for cooler weather to see that one.

There's no way I can let go of those other patterns that max out at size 8. I've already cut the Birthday Party dress. I have plans for the Playdate, fully intend on making another Sunday Brunch "suit" and might even crack out the Sailboat pattern again as shorts... Cause from now on, unless I'm sewing them as gifts for someone else's kids, I'd have to wait until I might be a grandma!

And now, I'll leave you with A's impression of a flamingo!

Size: 8
Mods: none
Fabric and buttons from stash

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Sew Japanese - Unicorn Bubble Shorts

My last bit of Japanese pattern sewing that happened in January was another pair of the bubble shorts (pattern "S" Girl's Sassy Clothes by Yuki Araki).

This is a gorgeous little pattern that I'd first made back in 2013 in the smallest size, size 90cm. Jump ahead a few years and I was up to the largest size, size 130cm

The first ones had been made in a lightweight denim chambray:

And they were ridiculously cute!

The weight of the unicorn chambray leftovers (from this dress) reminded me of those shorts and so I jumped in to make another pair.

These ones were created entirely from the stash and so I made do with a bit of navy flat cord for the pocket drawstrings.

It turned out I even had the pattern already traced in the largest size. It's essentially the same pattern as the base for the skort which I've made here, here and as shorts here. The navy shorts and the Nani Iro skort were the size 130, so I was ready to cut straight away.

They're not the quickest shorts due to all the gathering and binding, but they come together very nicely and they're super cute.

I'm feeling very virtuous with all this stash sewing. I've managed to completely use up a good few cuts of long stashed fabric and only added two new pieces of fabric thus far. So long as I'm ahead in the out vs in then I feel like I'm winning. 

Pattern: Shorts: "S" from this book
Size: 130cm
Mods: none
Fabric: printed lightweight denim chambray from Spotlight (via stash)
T-shirt: Oliver + S School bus from back here