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.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Class Picnic blouse and shorts

I think I'm sticking with chronological order, but I went on such a sewing bender in the first few weeks of January I can hardly be sure now.

What is certain is that I stuck with the idea of using stash fabrics and stash patterns to make clothes that were definitely going to be worn.

I'd made these Oliver + S Class Picnic Shorts previously as part of A's school uniform and she LOVED them. They were size 5 and were getting way too small, so it was time for some more. The idea of another navy uniform pair during the school holidays was too boring so these ones came first.

I had three different coloured denims in the stash, each of which wasn't going to yield enough for a full pair of jeans. I thought it would be fun to colour block the shorts.

The pattern is an absolute delight. I didn't take any photos of the insides, but the finish is really clever and the way the facing is constructed so the inner leg seam allowances are hidden at the hem line and the cute forward overlap at the sides... It's just a lovely, lovely pattern to sew.

She doesn't wear woven tops often, being more of a T-shirt fan, but when I saw this cotton voile remnant in the stash and the blues and greens matched so well I couldn't help myself. The top is the same pattern, and again it's a delight to sew. The yoke is lined, front and back, and then the sleeves have a neat bias finish over the elastic at the neck line.

I'm quite sure this fabric was bought in one of those moments when I'd been looking at what Lucinda had sewn for her daughter (Check out this Flickr pool for serious inspiration). Every now and then she would use a big scale print and I'd fall hard. So I'd buy a similar fabric, then stall on how to use it.

On Instagram I've seen Lucinda start the year with a pledge to sew 10 pieces of stashed fabric and 10 already owned patterns before succumbing to the lure of new stuff. While I may have already breached those rules I'm definitely going along in spirit. And so, this outfit was inspired by her as well as her having been the inspiration for the original fabric purchase way back when.

Another tiny dent in the fabric stash and an outfit that makes me ridiculously happy to see worn. Seriously, those shorts are incredibly cute on. Try them if you haven't already!

Size: 8, no mods
Fabric: Stashed coloured denims, cotton voile

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Japanese Jumpsuit

Welcome back. We have a new PC and finally I can catch up with what happened, sewing-wise, in January.

I started the year by joining in with Sew Japanese In January (An Instagram challenge which is exactly what it sounds like) and made a pattern I'd long wanted to make....

….only, I made it in a fabric I never wanted to use. :)

This little rompersuit comes from one of my Heartwarming Life books by designer Yuki Araki ("Let's Go Out Girl's Clothes"), the sizing only goes up to 130cm so I was mindful that it was this summer or never.

I added 2 inches length to the bottom of the blouse panels and 1 inch height to the top of the shorts panels. She has a long torso and there's nothing worse than a jumpsuit wedgie, right?

Here's how cute the jumpsuit looks in the book when made with a tasteful double gauze (or is it washed linen?):

So what on earth possessed me to start the year sewing with purple, floral seersucker? I could definitely blame the heatwave, or too many G&Ts... But I guess I'm just mindful that I really need to use the fabric that I have on hand, and while I would have happily re-gifted or tossed this particular fabric (it was gifted to me, I sure as hell didn't buy it :) ), I knew A would love it. And she does. Sigh.

The matching hairband and scrunchies were made in an attempt to use it up, but I'm afraid to say there is at least a skirt's worth left. I have to confess, though, that it has softened up nicely in the wash and I imagine it's actually pretty nice to wear. 

The pattern's details are lost somewhat in the print, but the bodice has some pintucks on each side, three little centre buttons and then there are some of those cute, but useless pocket flaps in the shorts/waistband seam.

It's the perfect rollerskating outfit!

Even though that makes it really hard to stand still for photos, and too blurry for roll-by shootings...

I may have become a little confused about which pattern pieces were the top of the bodice, and which were the waistband and which were the facings for those two parts.... I recall doing a bit of gathering or stretching to fit, which probably meant I was sewing the wrong thing at the place, but since it's then gathered with elastic at the top and waist it hardly seemed to matter.

She's really keen for me to make her more jumpsuits and use elastic in gathered tubes at the shoulders rather than the ties which are a bit toilet-break-fiddly. Really the bodice is only a rectangle so upsizing or drafting a bodice onto a pair of shorts shouldn't be hard once this pattern is outgrown.

Some years ago I started my first blog post of the year with the title "Start as you don't intend to continue" and it was the first garment I ever made for me. Well I've gone on to sew pretty much all of my own wardrobe since then, so that was a poor premonition.

I hate to say it in this post in case I jinx myself, and I have NO desire to continue with purple, floral seersucker. I promise there's plenty of beige, brown, neutrals and linen coming up soon. Stick around :)