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

Monday 18 February 2019

Sew Japanese in January - my turn

Having made a few Japanese pattern garments for A during January, I saw the invitation from Blogless Anna and Crafty Jane for a social end of the month catch up.

Of course, I felt the need to make something for me, and I knew I wanted a pair of culottes in the leftover linen. Did I have a Japanese pattern?...

Well, it turned out I did. Nearly all the Japanese sewing pattern books for women that I own came from a local second hand Japanese language bookshop (I know, I used to have one of those at the end of the street, cool huh) when it closed down.

Sadly, sewing books weren't their strong point, and while they had lots of those Stitch Idees embroidery magazines that I love, most of the sewing books were circa 1988. Think floral, drop waisted dresses with low hemlines, long sleeves and huge, white peter pan collars. Of course I took them all, so if you ever need to dress up like a Japanese version of Lady Di then I've got your pattern!

The one, beautiful book I have came as a gift from the lovely Emi, and it's a Dress Style Book which has you drafting every dress you want from a basic block. No culottes and too much work for my end of the month deadline.

Thumbing through the older books I found one that might be as recent as the early nineties:

In there I found this pattern for matching jacket and culottes. Mmmm mmmmm. :)

Eventually I found the sizing information on the pattern sheet and cut the second largest size. I could just fit it all on the remnant of linen. Yay!.

Well, I say I cut it all. But I couldn't cut the waistband or the fly shield as I couldn't find any pattern pieces for either of those. I used that funny Google phone camera app for some translations as the jacket and the culottes pieces were all marked on the cutting layout and it was hard to be sure what was what. It's not a super helpful app as sewing terms are somewhat beyond it, but it got me as far as realising there were no pattern pieces for those parts.

I figured I could sew the pants then just cut a waistband to fit, and for the fly shield I just winged it with a rectangle that was similar to the Hollywood Trouser pattern. In fact, I pulled that pattern out and used it for the pocket technique and the fly construction as there were close to no instructions for the culottes.

The pattern suggested belt loops but I left them off. I couldn't quite make out what was meant to happen at the gather/pleat points on the front and back of the shorts. I just gathered these sections to about as small as I comfortably could and then cut the waistband to fit the raw edge. Zoom in on that button, it's a perfect match!

The linen is every bit as soft and swishy as it looked when A was wearing her culottes and they feel fantastic to wear. And of course, being shorts, you can do everything in them!

The back shorts are cut more on the bias than the front shorts and they have a very skirt-y feel to them.

Dinner in the city with 17 other Japanese sewing book or fabric enthusiasts was wonderful. I wore my culottes with this same top - the upper half of the Vogue Guy Laroche (V1339) dress seen here.

I've worn them quite a few times since. I don't have many pairs of shorts as, while they're very practical, they're not something I've ever felt particularly suited to. But these skirty-shorts feel good.

It amused me to have a photoshoot at the end of the back lane by this purple wall as it just happened that the Instagram posts of P's pants and A's culottes were against the same wall and they were neatly aligned in my feed. Curating your Instagram feed is a serious thing and you gotta know I'm all over that level of blogging (heavy sarcasm font).

But more importantly, you get to steal figs from that tree down the lane...

And the kiddo modelled her new birthday dress for me. More to come later on that one, but I can't help but share this photo of the two of us (almost photobombed by a brother on a bike)

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange play along

For the last five years I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Secret Valentine Exchange (all blog posts linked here). The exchange was hosted by the wonderful duo of Sanae Ishida and Ute. They assigned a gift receiver to every participant and you would get a brief description of the kind of thing they were into and then make them something, posting it off in time for them to get a Valentine's day gift.

Ute has had a hiatus of social media this year and while I strongly considered throwing my hat in the ring and offering to help Sanae organise the gift exchange, it was all about those two and it didn't seem right to think, for even a moment, that Ute was replaceable. Just as I was emailing Sanae to that effect she was wondering if asking for another partner would be appropriate and had also decided that it wouldn't. SVE was on hiatus for the year.

But that left me with a January holiday by the river and nothing to do with my hands. Previously I've ridden my bike in the morning, played, swam, eaten all day and then done some little hand crafting thing in the evenings. How could I not "make stuff" on my holiday?

So I put out a call on Instagram: Did anyone have an idea of what I could make for them? The only rules were that it should ideally use things from my stash, and it had to kind of interest/excite me, but I was happy if it challenged me or was something that I couldn't actually do... yet.

I got lots of fun ideas, and it was hard to choose where to start.

In fact, it was so hard, that I've decided that I'm going to "Celebrate" the SVE hiatus and create a gift every month for the 12 months until the official SVE2020 kicks off. Keep those ideas coming!

Anyway, the gift idea that I ran with while on holiday was this one:

Saskia* said her sister was about to have a baby and perhaps I could knit or crochet a baby hat...

*Saskia is in the Netherlands and takes the most wonderful photos of her kids, beautiful light, stunning compositions and very real situations :) - Instagram here

The baby hat gift idea didn't excite me much, but oh, the idea of Saskia on-gifting to her sister, something that "some lady in Australia" had made, and having to explain, that no, she has no idea who I am... That part?! That part seriously cracked me up. I really wanted to make a gift for the baby of a woman whose sister had never met me, but kind of knew me through social media. Too funny.

So I made this little baby rattle

What on earth is that? you ask. Why, it's a bunyip!

A book that I absolutely adore is The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek by Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks. There's a Youtube read of the book here and if you search and subscribe you might get the added delight of either Tim Minchin or Nick Cave reading the book.

A bunyip is a mythical Australian creature, so they can look like pretty much anything you care for them to look like. This one comes out of the swamp and is quite concerned with what he is and his appearance. He asks all the other animals and their answers are none too flattering. His existential angst is not helped at all by the only human he encounters who simply states that bunyips don't look like anything as they don't exist.

I love this book for children as we all just want to know what we are and whether we're lovely. And of course, he does exist and he does find some peace contemplating his appearance having decided that he is quite handsome after all. It's very much a book of the late seventies but still fabulous today.

Anyway, back to my bunyip rattle: He needed to be brown with pink ears, muzzle and face. I combined the patterns for the Dog (ears) and Frog (mouth and eyes) from the book More Softies.

I'm only just learning to crochet with a written pattern and it was a fun challenge. The brown yarn is a gorgeous cotton cashmere from a new-to-me local shop (the Yarning Place) as was the white, while the pink was in my stash. I salvaged a rattle from inside an old stuffed toy that was being "retired".

My kids thought he looked  a bit scary - I think I stitched some angst and baffled concern into that expression, but not scary, no? :) 

Saskia's kids thought he looked a lot like a monkey. But I say that's just because they've never seen a bunyip. One day, if they're lucky enough to see a bunyip, I hope they'll think to themselves "that looks just like the weird toy we gave cousin ---- from that crazy Australian lady we didn't know"

So, the book and toy arrived safely, and hopefully by now, so has the little baby.

Happy Valentine's Day to all.

Monday 11 February 2019

Tween top and culottes - More Japanese sewing

I knew I needed to make more school shorts for A and I thought she might go for a Japanese Sewing pattern for culottes. Especially if I sweetened the deal with a tween style off the shoulder top. Plus, I got to double up on the Sew Japanese in January challenge

To keep things fun I made the culottes in some linen first, with a regular school navy pair to follow later.

The culottes are from Sunny Spot (review and book details here) which I think will get a lot of use as the sizes go all the way up to 150cm.

I've made the size 130cm and they are very generous in length. I think she'll be wearing them for years to come.

With a little help from a cross wind, you can see that there is a wrap around skirt effect at the front, with a pair of wide leg shorts underneath. The pattern suggests a nice leather buckle closure for the skirt flap, a bit like a kilt, but since these were going to get heaps of wash and wear action I left that off.

The skirt flap is sewn into the right side seam and the finish at the hem is not quite as neat as it could be since you have to hem the skirt and shorts first, then sew the side seam. I kept thinking of a way around that, but couldn't come up with a better one...

What I loved though were the instructions for the pocket in the left side seam. It's an in seam pocket which we've all sewn before, but this pattern book has really clever instructions for how to get the pocket to stay facing forward and not flop around, and to have all the seam allowances of the pocket lying flat in one direction and the side seam allowances still able to be pressed open. It's the best way I've seen to do in seam pockets yet. Remind me to do it like that in all patterns.

The culottes fabric is a lovely linen that came from Eliza's years ago and while it's ostensibly grey and beige it has this glorious pearlescent sheen. I was more than a bit jealous of these shorts and instantly cut myself a pair of culottes from the leftovers of the same fabric (yet to be photographed but worn plenty).

The blouse is from a different pattern book, and another one that is new to me and will get heaps of use (This book - translated as Fashionable Clothes For Girls). Also a straight size 130cm with no mods.

It's a raglan T-shirt with exposed shoulders which makes for a very curious sleeve pattern piece. The construction was all lovely with only the hems having me baffled. The centre seam and thus the centre hems of the ties is 1cm, yet the bottom hem is 2cm. Where they meet at the points it threw me trying to mitre a hem corner with uneven hem allowances. Also, while the bottom front hem is turned up by 2cm, the instructions have you stitch it at 7mm (the same as the centre front). I think it would work fine to just do a 1cm hem at the front lower edge and keep it all simple. As it is I just have to iron my free edge hem allowances to make them behave.

The first time she put it on and completely missed the sleeves was a bit comical. I half panicked thinking it didn't fit at all, but then realised the mistake.

The fabric for the top is a lightweight shot cotton that I bought from Urban Sew quite some years ago. It's only very subtle in the contrast weave with a light green and an off white warp thread. It doesn't have the classic shot cotton colour change, just more of a slight marle effect. Happily the top was exactly the cut of fabric, so it's another stashed piece of fabric ticked off with no leftovers. Super satisfying.

I think this top would look great with the multicoloured Class Picnic Shorts too, but the kid obviously thinks of this combination as "an outfit" and reaches for them both together very often. I'm not complaining, it's pretty easy on the eyes. :)

We just need to remember to go heavy on the sunscreen.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Field Trips, Hippos and comfy cushions

I can not bear to leave something unfinished, or even worse, in a state where it had technically defeated me.

Those terrible Ottobre pants had to be rectified. But before I did. I enjoyed some sewing with the same fabric and therefore the same sewing thread.... A lovely pair of Oliver + S Field Trip Cargo pants

These were the exact same size 10 with size 12 length that I had made back here. The fabric is essentially the same too, being a different colourway of the identical mystery $4/m drill from Eliza's.

There's a fair bit of topstitching and work involved in these pants but their definitely worth it. They look so cool!

The cargo pockets are awesome....

Mostly I just love the fit. relaxed, but not baggy. They pull on like easy wearing track pants but look that bit more put together. Yet there's nothing stuffy and serious-trouser-y about them

So then, with these successfully sewn and being worn, there was nothing for it but to dive back in to those Ottobre pants. I unpicked the belt loops and removed the waistband from 80% or more of the waist edge.

I threw a 1/2" dart at the centre back and at each side seam, essentially reducing the waist by 3" circumference. I took that much out of the waistband at the centre back, then reattached it to the pants.

Thankfully the inverted waist stay didn't need adjusting, it just got eased back onto the reduced waist circumference before the waistband went back on.

It still irks me that the full weight of the pants is hanging on the tacks where the belt loops hold the waist facing down, but at least the waist band doesn't now stick out like late term maternity pants.

The smiling welt pockets are stupidly cute, and I'm glad to have rescued them into a wearable pair of pants. I'll never sew this exact pattern again, but I might steal the pocket idea and put them on a nicer pattern, like the Field Trip Cargo Pants.

This year, at school, P's class have been invited to bring in a chair cushion to make their classroom chairs more comfortable and personalised. Well, it just so happened that I'd been trying to learn to crochet properly and read a pattern. In doing so, I'd made a square of double and treble crochet and thought it would make a perfect cushion cover panel.

I didn't bother lining the cushion, but sewed some navy cotton to back the crochet panel, then added a navy cotton envelope closure at the back.

Spot the crochet stitch error! I can't unsee it, but it was part of learning and now I realise that soldiering on and leaving mistakes will bug me. They say imperfections are the mark of handmade, but I think I'd rather unpick and correct them straight away.

Having the navy cotton in the stash, and using the snap press for the closure meant it was barely an hour's work to cut and sew the whole cushion (he chose grey snaps, I could have matched the navy too :) ). I even ended up having the right sized cushion insert in the stash - a sign that I surely have too much craft stuff stashed away, right?!

I've been really taken with crochet now that i think I've worked it out. I'm excited to show you some of the things I've  made since this cushion front.

Meanwhile, this one will go off to school tomorrow and hopefully it will be used for sitting on, and not for whacking his mates.