Wednesday 29 May 2019

Jalie 0969 - That Sewing Blab podcast

I did something a bit fun and different today and joined a live crowdcast conversation about sewing swimsuit patterns.

That Sewing Blab is a weekly video conversation hosted by Maria and Dawn and this month has been all about swimsuit sewing. Maria invited me to join in and I immediately plumped for reviewing a Jalie pattern.

Here's the video link if you want to see me being awkward :)  That Sewing Blab: Episode 151
I come in around the 18 minute mark - My sound quality is a bit ordinary as I only discovered after agreeing to join in that our PC has no inbuilt camera. Luckily I could do it live from my phone, but I probably should have hunted up the ear buds and microphone attachment.

At least my sewing was ok!

I'm a big fan of Jalie patterns. I find their drafting is excellent, they come together perfectly and the instructions are, for me, the perfect combination of illustration and clear, concise language.

I figured the offer would be for a PDF pattern and since I always prefer paper patterns when I can get my hands on them , I decided I may as well choose one of their older out of print patterns that is now PDF only. Enter Jalie 0969

I emailed the pattern to Creffield Digital Print and picked it up the next day and got cutting.

Let's begin with View A, the one piece:

It's a nice simple shape but with a lovely back cutout and enough shape to keep it interesting. I didn't get modelled photos but it looks cute as can be on. A complained of a little bit of wedgie action at the back in swimming lesson but personally I'd rather risk a bit of wedgie than have those low cut leg holes that I feel make me look frumpy. I should try this one for me!

Using some of my big stash of Carvico VITA recycled nylon fabric it was always going to be a plain suit, so I added the seahorse! (PSA I think there's a tiny bit of this awesome fabric left at Sew Active Fabrics and she's selling it way below cost price - go snap it up)

The seahorse came from an Ottobre swimsuit pattern but this kind of thing is so easy, you could just make up any image. The shape is drawn onto fusible web which is then bonded to the lycra scrap and the outline cutout. The shape can then be fused to the swimsuit by ironing and stitched around the edge to keep it in place. I've used my sewing machine's triple stitch and a rainbow variegated thread. 

The seahorse's fin was stitched with decorative stitching lines and then only attached to the swimsuit with the stitching line adjacent to the seahorse body. I thought I had some iron-on diamantes for the eye but found a sew on sequin instead.

As per my daughter's measurements I made size N with an extra inch of torso length added. This is one of the only Jalie patterns I've sewn that doesn't include the torso loop body measurement. However, it did have a back length (nape of neck to waist) and so I could tell that I'd need the usual addition of body length for my long torso'ed kid.

Size N is the first size that includes the lining shelf bra, which I thought was kind of redundant for my eight year old, but knew she'd like it so I did it anyway.

At this point I hit a hiccup as I couldn't work out which elastic length to use where. On the pattern sheet there were lots of elastic lengths marked and each was given a number. Yet nowhere in the instructions were those numbers referred to. I fired off a quick email to Jalie before going to bed and had my answer promptly the next morning. In moving the pattern from print to PDF the page which held the key for which elastic to use where had been accidentally left off. 

Apparently I was the first person to point this out ?! how anyone had sewn the pattern without this key is crazy. If you have the pattern in your megabit stash then be sure to contact Jalie for the missing bit before you try and proceed. Anyone buying it from this point on should get the full package!

Of course I had to make a second suit with the same pattern:

This was A's request version. She wanted the View B bikini top and View D shorts. The coral fabric is also Carvico VITA but the navy is the last of something I picked up ages ago at Rathdowne Fabrics. it's been interesting to see how the different fabrics hold up to use. 

This navy fabric has been much shorter lived than the VITA fabrics. Of those, the lighter colours such as the pale pink don't handle the chlorine so well, but most of the VITA fabrics are still looking good after more than 12 months of regular chlorine pool use. The kids are outgrowing swimsuits, which is almost unheard of!

These shorts would make great gym shorts and I think they'd work well as boys swim trunks too.

The crop top is cute and worked pretty well in the pool - perfect during swimming lessons and only coming a bit awry when wrestling with her big brother afterwards. The straps are turned tubes of fabric without any elastic. They're cut ont he bias which makes them more stable, but if you were sewing this one for yourself and had any boobs to speak of you might find the support a bit lacking. No probs for the kid!

I had a little Jalie label and figured that would make the suit look a bit more "pro". I even bothered to change out the thread colour when stitching down the elastic.

The Jalie technique of zig zagging right on the edge of the elastic, then folding to the inside and zig zag stitching again works perfectly. The elastic always lies nicely and it looks every bit as good, if not better, than a twin needle or coverstitched hem.

If you haven't sewn swimwear before, it's really not as tricky as you might think. This suit is only a couple of seams (overlocked) then elastic edging. Simple and super satisfying and with such little fabric outlay when making a kid sized suit, there's nothing to lose.

Pattern: Jalie 0969 (gifted, thank you Jalie) views A, B & D
Fabric: Mostly Carvico VITA xtracycle, navy generic nylon lycra.
Notions: Bikini clasp from GJ's fabrics and elastic from stash

Saturday 25 May 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange Part IV - Cedric

The Secret Valentine Exchange is usually an annual, big circular gifting pool for creative people to make something for an unknown recipient for Valentine's Day.

It's foundation was in the lovely friendship between Sanae Ishida and Ute. With Ute's absence from the virtual craft world, this year it hasn't gone ahead. But, to honour those two wonderful women I've decided to run with it and create a Valentine's style gift every month until next February.

Let me introduce you to Cedric....

I was in Fibresmith a few months ago and found these wonderful embroidery patterns by Amy Kalissa on sale. Each pattern had a principal character, an emblem and a phrase, set out as three separate iron-on stencils to stitch.

I'm not much of an embroider-er but these patterns sold me with the quirky characters. Meet Cedric:

"Cedric is your stereotypical hipster, although don't tell him that, as far as he's concerned, he's a complete individual who does not subscribe to mainstream views. He fashions cushions out of scarves found in op-shops, manages to attend the opening of every new pop-up store within a 10km radius of the CBD, drinks pumpkin chai lattes with a pinch of nutmeg and enjoys going to Bingo with his posse.
By day, Cedric runs his own café, where customers flock to experience his famous deconstructed hot chocolates, Foie Gras Poutine and Trout Ice-Cream."

Just your regular inner Melbourne hipster really. 

Each of the patterns is intended to be stitched with variegated embroidery threads designed by Amy Kalissa. 

Before heading out to the country for Easter I noticed the little quilting shop in my parent's home town was listed as a stockist for these Cottage Garden Threads. So I packed an embroidery hoop and a bit of this quilt backing cotton fabric from the stash. Turned out they didn't stock the particular Namesake range intended for these patterns so I made do with ones that looked similar.

At least, I did until I realised the designer intended for me to stitch blue eyes on a tabby cat. Well that's just wrong and I couldn't come at that. My cat got green eyes instead. And now, you know, it really bugs me taht the whiskers are black. Cats simply don't have black whiskers. No matter what the cat colour, the whiskers are always white. Of course white whiskers on a pale background was never going to work, so as much as the veterinarian part of me is irritated by it, the whiskers are black after all. :)

Because I'm quite capable of laughing at myself, check out my first attempt:

I'd completely failed to see the instruction to only use two strands of the embroidery thread. No wonder it was looking so chunky in comparison to the example in the instructions. I had no idea that those multi-stranded embroidery threads were ever split! Lesson learnt.

Here you can see the iron on transfer. PSA - if you're doing this at your mum's house using her ironing board, put something under the fabric lest you end up with a permanent hipster cat tattooed on your mum's ironing board cover. Just sayin'.

Buttonmania came through with teeny tiny 5mm doll buttons for Cedric's cardigan. A quick phone call and they were in the post and arrived the next day. Thanks Buttonmania!

So where has Cedric gone to live? I delivered him today to Marisa
I've been a blog following fan of Marisa's for many years. She makes gorgeous clothes for her daughter and uses so many great Japanese sewing book patterns. I can always, always be tempted into buying yet another pattern book after a visit to her blog.

She had requested a stitched portrait of one of her own cats, but you know, a craft gift is never quite you expect, right? :) 

Not that her cats aren't great. One of my favourite photoshoots is when her cats met a tiny Arriety - check it out

It was lovely to catch up with her in real life for a coffee and I thoroughly enjoyed stitching Cedric for her.

Monday 20 May 2019

Shark attack pyjamas

Time for some winter pyjamas for the boy!

The last time I made him pyjamas in a woven fabric he hardly wore them and has declared he "prefers stretch fabric for sleepwear" (seriously, I've created a monster alright).

Well he's eaten his words 'cause he LOVES these pyjamas. Now, he has qualified his demands as stretch all over, or a stretch top with woven pants is also acceptable.

The shark flannelette came from Spotlight ages ago when they were having a sale. Either I stashed it for a very long time and there might once have been enough for top and bottoms, or it postdates the pyjama edict and I only bought enough for bottoms.

He tried A's Bedtime Story size 8 pyjamas on and they were too small, so that pattern's finished for him. I went back to the Sleepover Pyjamas which go up to size 12. I thought I could simplify them by leaving off the bottom cuffs. I cut a size 10 with size 12 length, but that wasn't long enough. The cuffs really do add considerable length and without them the pants were ankle grazers.

From the tiny bits of leftovers I could cut a pair of arbitrarily sized cuffs and threw a bit of navy flat piping in the seam to break up the print mismatch.

The top is fun, and also uses up the last of some thick, navy cotton lycra knit I've had for ages. It's the Jalie Nico raglan in size O which I already had traced from his recent T-shirts.

I didn't have enough fabric for any kind of acceptable sleeve length, but could cut some cuffs from the odd shaped scraps and I think cuffs always look more pyjama-y anyway, right?

The shark scrap is stitched to the back side of the T-shirt with a close zig zag stitch and then the T-shirt knit cut away leaving a small raw edge.

He hasn't not worn these to bed since I finished them. Enough to almost tempt me to restock the stash with more flannelette on sale...

But that's not the point. I'm endeavouring to use stuff up and add less. 

And so, after I cut the pants and there was about half a metre of fabric left I thought of how I could use it...

And I ended up making the cutest thing ever! 

Using the Oliver + S Teaparty Playsuit as the base, I overlapped the bodice and body sections to cut a one piece. I omitted the shoulder button closures and just closed the shoulder seams. The seam allowances were cut off the neckline and armholes so they could be finished with bias binding. As the Teaparty playsuit already has a centre front seam allowance (on the body part at least) it was no biggy to put a zipper down the middle.

The leg length came from the Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pants, and the whole thing should be a reasonable approximation of a size 12-18month.

The shark flannelette was quilted onto some bamboo quilt wadding (again using some last remnants - yay!) before cutting out the pattern pieces. 

I used the freemotion quilting foot that I'd bought ages ago for my machine (don't ask why). That was wild and a bit of fun. It took some getting used to the complete loss of control but I ended up going with the flow and I think my watery ripples around the sharks look great.

The lining is a cool striped knit that has also been in the stash forever. I found the zipper in the zipper box and some small remnants of blue knit that were just enough for making binding. Except for the striped knit there was nothing left to put away again by the end.

Frighteningly, I'd already quilted and cut this before I realised his pyjama pants were too short. So those cuffs really were a miraculous scrap buster.

Befitting a one year old's playsuit, the legs close with snaps. Yep, my snap stash had exactly the right shade of blue. :)

A friend's baby has just turned one and I was delighted to deliver this to him. I hope it fits and keeps him snug and warm during winter. 

While P was revelling in his pyjamas, A was watching me sew this and declared she wanted a pair of quilted overalls! :) Um, no, but I do have some awesome silver/black stretch denim to make her some overalls.

I can't wait to see this worn, and if it works well, then I'll keep the pattern for some of my other small, leftovers of flannelette. There's nothing more satisfying than using stuff up!

Size: Pants: 10 , T-shirt: O, playsuit: 12-18m
Fabric: Spotlight novelty flannelette, stashed striped knit and navy knit.
Notions: Quilt batting, knit binding, snaps, zipper all from stash

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Playdate Dress and a pocket tutorial

It's starting to get cold here, and I really need to consign myself to the fact that our house renovation is not just-about-to-start. I need to get my winter clothes out rather than think I'll be packing them to move any minute. And I need to just turn the heating on.

But instead let's look back at our April holidays at the coast shall we, and a sweet little Oliver + S Playdate dress that I made for A.

I'd only made this dress pattern once before and I was so delighted with the shape and the fit. Here's the first version. I was keen to give it another run as it's one of the patterns that stops at size 8 which is her current size.

I think I'd bought this quilting cotton with the Library dress in mind but it looked like it would suit this pattern quite nicely too.

The pattern usually has ruffles or buttons on the yoke, but I thought it would be a bit more grown up to have the yoke plain. Then it looked too plain, so I thought to add a simple bow. When A saw my bow placed low and centrally she said it would look much better if the bird was wearing it. So there it is, a bow tie bird dress!

The terracotta coloured binding was already cut from some other project and I used the Fairy Tale Dress patterns instructions for the little bow. It's a miniature version of the belt bow from that pattern.

The pattern is a delight. It's a sweet bell shaped dress with in seam pockets, a lovely yoke with flat piping and nicely puffy sleeves.

As I was making it I thought to use the pocket instructions from a Japanese Sewing Book which allows you to have the side seam allowances pressed open and no snipping into and weakening the pocket seam allowances.

It's quite genius, so I photographed a little tutorial:

Side Seam Pocket Tutorial

1: Finish the seam allowances of the front pocket pieces and the sides of the front skirt panel.

2:Stitch the front pocket to the skirt (right sides facing) leaving a 1.5cm unsewn section at the top and bottom of the pocket. 

Stitch the back pockets to back skirt leaving a 1cm section unsewn at the top and bottom of each pocket piece

3: Press the pockets away from the skirts and seam allowances

4: Stitch the side seams above and below the pocket openings. Stitch with the front skirt uppermost and stop your stitching at the front pocket attachment stitching point, (or a stitch or two deeper into the pocket opening). 

Open the pockets away from each other and press again

5: Edgestitch the front pocket about 1/16" from the pressed edge (stitched front pocket opening is shown on right hand side of the image below)

6: Sew the pocket curved edges together folding the skirt pieces out of the way (with 1cm seam allowance in this instance). The photos below show the upper and then lower edges of the pocket and how the seam allowances are folded back when the pocket is stitched together.

7: Finish the pocket seam allowances together. Press the pocket towards the front skirt again and then finish the back seam allowances in one go.

Finally, you can add a bartack at the top and bottom of the pocket opening for extra reinforcemnt.

I love this pocket technique as it's neat, allows the seam to be finished neatly and stops the pocket from flopping down or towards the back when worn.

This little bow-tie bird dress might be hibernating for a few months now, but hopefully it will come out again in the spring. Maybe for a spot of tennis?

Pattern: Oliver + S Playdate Dress
Size: 8, no mods
Fabric: some designer quilting cotton, long stashed so I forget the name.

Friday 3 May 2019

Secret Valentine Exchange part III - crafty interlude

I made the decision to run with the Secret Valentine Exchange all year round and try and create a small gift for somebody, somewhere, every month until the real SVE event returns on Valentine's day proper.

The April gift was posted off and arrived just before the end of April and also, perhaps, as an early birthday present for my sewing pal, Nicole. - currently known as the queen of overalls!

When I put out the call for ideas (which is still open, by the way, hit me up), Nicole suggested a macramé key chain thingy.

I was putting in an order with String Harvest for some thicker cord for another project when I saw that Cass sells little cards of co-ordinating 0.5mm Hemp cord. Perfect for some macramé key chain thingies, right?

For those who know their knots, this piece is done with a series of square knot sennits and the cords swapping over from one chain to the next to give the interlocking weave.

Monkey fist balls are a fun little puzzle, but I do NOT recommend trying to make them with 0.5mm cord. A bit fiddly and frustrating and I hop they don't simply unravel....

And a finally, a little autumn leaf:

Instructions for all of these, along with really good demonstrations of knots and techniques can be found in the Macramé Pattern Book. It has the added bonus of making macramé look quite tasteful and I'm especially fond of the samplers, made in neutral cord and pinned to feedsack floral fabric. Pointless, but pretty.

And we all need a bit of that sometimes.