Friday, 27 March 2020

short, shorts, shorts (and one pair of long pants)

When I made her a birthday dress that I was pretty sure she wouldn't wear I also made three pairs of shorts.

That was ages ago but I finally pinned her down for some photos.

The idea of shorts wasn't a surprise and we went through some pattern ideas together, but then I picked the fabrics and sewed them up in secret.

This first pair is pattern 19/20 (I can't see any difference between the two patterns, it could be one or either of those!) from this book which my translate app calls "Handmade Summer Style"

The fabric is the very last of some unicorn chambray from spotlight that had already yielded a dress and a pair of shorts.

These are simple elastic waisted super-voluminous shorts. She was keen on the shorts like a skirt idea, almost tempting me to try a pair of longer culottes again (they've always been meet with a firm no in the past).

There are patch pockets at the back and inseam pockets at the front. I pulled up my own photographed tutorial to remind myself of how to do inseam sides pockets and still get the seam allowances to lie flat. It's from a different Japanese pattern book and works really well.

These are size 150 and look like they'll fit forever! I was so afraid of her having grown out of Japanese patterns but perhaps I need not have been :)

Also from the same book is pattern 15. These ones can be made with a bib and straps like overall shorts, or just as the shorts.

These are my favourites, they're a bit big, but still have a really nice shape. The inner waistband and the legs are finished with facings, so I used a lighter weight cotton for that.

Given that the shorts are denim and heavyish, I also split the pocket piece and created a pocket facing in denim, but the main pocket bag is also shirting cotton. That way the pockets won't take forever to dry in the wash.

Not yet a problem as these ones haven't been worn...

The third pair of shorts and her favourites by far are another pair of Oliver + S Class picnic shorts.

If these look familiar it's because I used the same three coloured denims to make the same pattern last summer. The order of the fabrics is swapped about just to make use of what I had left. these are size 10, same as the recent school shorts. Hopefully they'll last longer!

As you can see, this pair have been washed and worn and washed again...

finally, a bit of a flop, but worth documenting all the same.

I tried the Eleanor jeans by Jalie. They're a fitted pull on jeans. I made these with a stretch bengaline kind of fabrics.

I've made size O according to her measurements which should have had the waist being a bit snug if anything. Turns out the waistband was too big and the rise too short so they constantly feel like they're falling down.

It's maybe not helped by them being very long in the leg and needing to be rolled up. I think they're really promising though...

I'll try and revisit them at some stage, add length to the front and back rise so they come up to her waist and then make the waistband snug enough that they feel secure. I have a few cuts of jegging denim that I'm sure she'd love if I can get the fit right.

Meanwhile I've just done a dart and tuck that has butchered the back of these ones but make them almost wearable when desperate for clean, long pants.

She also scored a birthday bag from fabric that I'd bought for her back when she was about two, but we haven't taken nice pictures of that yet.

Arguably I should be able to photograph and blog about everything since there's not much else we can do right now. But I'm a bit lacking in mojo.

What I am enjoying is crocheting a couple of budgerigars. Seriously. I think they're going to be very cute. We had a pair land in our backyard when our neighbours were packing up their aviary and  moving out. I managed to catch them and we went door knocking until we found where they'd come from. Of course by then, the kids were convinced we should keep them and when I explained we couldn't, A went and found my crochet birds book and insisted I make her a pair of budgerigars.

That's the kind of order I like!

Monday, 2 March 2020

Shirring elastic for a birthday win

I've been making a birthday dress for A pretty much since she was born and they often go down a bit like a lead balloon. I had no expectations of anything different this year, as she's really not wearing dresses.

So I went with my usual plan of making something I wanted to make. And it worked!

I'd never yet tried using shirring elastic. Which is crazy, because it suits toddler outfits so well. Anyway, we'd been seeing lots of shirred tops and dresses in shops and both agreed that it would be cool to make a shirred dress.

Then, this rayon remnant was on sale at Fabric Deluxe and the light, smooth drapey fabric with its crazy digital print was just begging to be made into a shirred summer dress.

I followed this tutorial from The Sewing Directory only varying a bit with the length and the number of rows of shirring. From memory I used their suggested size 9 width, lengthened to 90cm to make more use of the border print and did 14 rows of shirring.

I hadn't thought of how much elastic would be used and had only bought one each of a few different colours in order to decide which would look best. We decided on a bright green, but I had to go back and buy a second spool as it used almost two full spools to do this much shirring.

I wound the shirring elastic onto the bobbin by hand, but found it didn't require any extra fiddling or adjusting beyond that. I've just loaded it in, threaded the needle with a matching green regular thread and started sewing lines.

To keep the spacing even I just used the edge of the presser foot as a guide. It looks like nothing is happening for the first few rows, then it starts to really gather and scrunch up nicely. And with a bit of a steam press it suddenly looks completely pro!

Since the dress wasn't a surprise, and I was pretty sure it might not get worn, I did pull out a few all nighters and sew three pairs of shorts and a backpack as well! All of which are yet to be photographed.

But she opened her presents while a couple of friends who'd had a birthday sleepover were still around and they oohed and aahed over this dress to the extent that I think she started to quite like it herself.

And now I know of a way to make a quick dress out of a remnant of fabric that will fit pretty much any kid. So there's last minute birthday gifts for other little (appreciative) girls sorted!

Monday, 17 February 2020

V1456 not for me

Back when I was planning to sew the V1456 Sandra Betzina tunic for my mum, I figured I'd make a practice run in another fabric first.

I chose what would have been my size according to the pattern packet, and elected to make the simpler, sleeveless View B. I got as far as was necessary to know what fitting changes I needed to make to my mum's version. Then I went on to make hers. But I just hate an unfinished project so this one was sewn to completion in January.

But it's not doing it for me.

Maybe that's because I'm not a tight-pants-and-loose-tunic kind of person. I couldn't find anything to wear it with for the sake of these photos and eventually settled on the skirt just because the colour matched.

I suppose it would look nice over wide leg pants as well as skinny jeans or leggings.

I'd bought the pattern with the sole purpose of making that tunic for my mum so I shouldn't be surprised that it's not floating my boat. Yet I sort of wish it did...

It's a bit big in the bust for me, which you can see by the gaping under the arm. I'm not filling it out very well in the only place which is meant to be somewhat fitted, and so I feel a bit like I'm drowning in it.

The fabric is a nice cotton which I'd scored from another sewist who was destashing. I chose it for the muslin as I thought it would suit the pattern, but mostly because it would be so easy to work with compared to the crinkly seersucker gauze stuff of my mum's version.

I briefly toyed with the idea of throwing it in a dye bath to see if a darker colour made me like it more. but then I remembered the painfully sourced, colour matched, lightweight, double ended zip probably wouldn't take the dye and shelved that idea.

So I lent it to my mum, but she doesn't wear sleeveless things as a rule, didn't like the colour much and found it didn't fit well for all the reasons we'd changed her version. Obviously.

It was enjoyable to make and hopefully it will find a home where someone find enjoyment in wearing it. I'll post the measurement below and if it rocks your boat (even after all my doleful complaining about it's ugliness :) ) then stick your hand up.

Pattern: V1456
View B, no modifications
Size D (from pattern: Bust 38"/97cm, Waist 32&1/2"/83cm, Hip 40&1/2 /103cm)
Worn by me: Bust 38" (B cup with no difference between full bust and high bust measurements), waist 30", hip 40"

Monday, 10 February 2020

School sewing and lessons learned

I don't care to think how many years ago it was that I last sewed a big batch of navy school shorts and skirts for the kids, but judging by how tight P's shorts were getting it was a while.
(whoops, 4 years, just found the post. Bad mummy! :) )

But they'd lasted well and so I'd put off any updating. Fast forward to the start of this school year and both kids were in need of some fresh clothing for their bottom halves.

I found some super cheap lightweight navy fabric at Eliza's and bought about 5 metres (for maybe $20). It has a little bit of stretch and I guess is best described as a tropical weight suiting fabric. I've used perhaps 2/3rds of it here to make the following:

3 pairs of Oliver + S Sketchbook shorts in size 10 for P - He's still comfortably wearing these size 8 ones, but I figured since he's almost 12 it was time to go up a size, and he measured perfectly for the size 10 although much taller. I didn't add length as they're a comfortably long pattern to start with.

For A, I made two of the Oliver + S Badminton skorts. This is a sweet pattern with a little pair of built in shorts and is one of the only skirts in her previous school wardrobe that she liked. I toyed with leaving the scallops off and just doing a straight hem facing but she said she liked the scallop bits.

And she got two pair of her favourite shorts, the Oliver + S Class Picnic shorts. Hers are all a straight size 10 as well cause while she's shorter and younger she's measuring the same in waist and hips as her beanpole brother.

As with any Oliver + S patterns, the sewing was a delight and I found I enjoyed working like a trojan to get them all made in the few evenings between holidays end and school starting.

And then the tragic part? After only two weeks of wearing and washing (like maybe two to three wears each for A's clothes) everything is falling apart.

I could cry, except in the scheme of heavy stuff going on in my life right now, some frayed school clothes is so trivial it's not funny. Which makes it kind of funny.

Anywhere I trimmed to 1/4" (and that was as close as I got) it's all falling apart. And of course with the Class Picnic and the Badminton patterns, that's pretty much the whole facing edges. I've just gone around the hem lines with a zig zag stitch as I could not bear to think of any more involved kind of rescue. That'll do and they still look better than the official school uniform clown sized trackpants.

Lesson learnt: Life is too short to buy shit fabric.

P.S. How classy is our rental? :) It's a bit of a dump but that clothesline is absurdly functional. Massive, blasted with westerly sun and ridiculous amounts of wind. If there was a surburban rental laundry competition I'd be all over it!!

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Kraft-Tex book launch and GIVEAWAY!

Let's do something fun and have a giveaway!

(honestly, I'm doing so much un-fun shit right now, I need this more than you do!!)

I hadn't let on, but back in 2018 I was approached to contribute an original design to a new book on how to use Kraft-tex vegan leather.

You can imagine my first reaction was holy cow, YES! Quickly, followed by a wailing But-I-don't-design-I-just-make!!

But there it is! That's my bag taking up most of the front cover of the Kraft-Tex Creations book.

There's so much you can do with Kraft-Tex. You can cut, stitch, paint, print, fold... Pretty much everything you can do with leather AND everything you can do with paper in one medium. 

I decided I'd like to use the ability to cut and wet shape the Kraft-Tex. And so, my bag is made from a flat piece of Kraft-Tex, cut with a stencil, reinforced at  the base and handles with stitching, then wet moulded to shape.

There are lots of other great projects in the book that make use of all the different ways you can tool around with Kraft-Tex. I'm looking forward to making a few myself as I'm going to keep a copy of the book for me.

But how about you? If you'd like to win a copy, there's a widget at the end of the blog post and I'll give away two copies:  One to an Australian entrant and another to an international entrant (I'm footing the postage bill, so that's as generous as I can be!). There's also a third copy that I'll give away locally on Instagram so you can go there and throw your name in the hat too.

On the cover of the book they styled my bag beautifully as a knitting bag. But the book includes instructions to sew a little cloth inner bag to make it a functional handbag.

At the end of 2018 I decided it went well with my Frocktails dress so it had a little hush-hush secret outing before the book launch.

I've also used it as a day to day handbag, and I can vouch for it's strength! One day when I decided I needed some groceries and this bag was all I had with me I used it to carry a dozen eggs, a litre of milk and a packet of butter home from the shops. It held up just fine!

Kraft-Tex is available in Australia from Kraft Kolour, but you might also find it elsewhere online. This project uses the full width of a roll, but only about 2/5ths of it's length, so you'd get plenty of other projects made from one roll of Kraft-Tex.

I'm very excited to have created something for the book and I hope you can have a play with Kraft-Tex and create something yourself. Or maybe try my bag?!

Good luck!

Kraft-Tex Creations Giveaway

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Sorbet Sunday - my flavours

I was well and truly bitten by the crochet bug last year (it feels like "this" year as I still haven't documented everything here).

I'd long been thinking about a simple crochet t-shirt or tank, and then I saw this amazing knitted tape yarn at String Harvest. I knew it had to happen.

I found a pattern that looked ideal: Drops 202-30 Sunday Sorbet. A free pattern from the Garn Studio website

Of course what I don't yet know is how to properly read a crochet pattern. I saw the note that this gauge of yarn would work, but failed to notice that it would then be worked with double strands. The pattern is intended for something much chunkier.

I also struggled for a while with the US vs UK terminology and my first few swatches were very tall and narrow. Hmmm. The whole top is just treble crochet (UK term). Once I got that straight I realised my swatch was exactly half the intended size....

So I just took the instructions for the size L (the third of six sizes) and doubled everything!

That kind of worked as there was no pattern for the number of rows, only the number of stitches. the colour changes and the armhole/neck shaping was introduced once the garment had reached a certain length.

To that end, the pattern seems to have an error. the modelled version on their website clearly shows the white band starting before the armhole, yet the pattern would have had that colour introduced much later. I asked a question on their website and while they were very prompt to reply, they didn't really resolve my dilemma. So I just switched colours when I thought it looked good.

In case this is the first of my blog posts you've ever read. I should let you in on a terribly kept secret: I love beige!

My favourite colours are all the neutral beige/brown/greys. I may as well be a donkey reincarnated as a crafting human.

If you like something a bit more colourful, these Cotton Lily yarns do also come in some pastel like colours. Here I've used, from the bottom up, Champagne, Egret, Ivory and Light Taupe.

Cass from String Harvest was really helpful and sent me a few photos through Instagram of my various colour selections laid out next to each other. Thanks to those pictures I shelved the idea of using a much darker grey for the bottom band. Nice service!

Once I'd figured I was doing twice as many stitches as the pattern intended, I also figured I'd need twice as much yarn (see, I kind of understand this crochet thing!). I put in a second order for another ball of the three colours other than the Ivory. I used up exactly both balls of the bottom two bands, about half of the one Ivory ball and about 1&1/4 of the top Light Taupe.

I had it finished at Christmas time and tried it on to find the armholes were too tight up under my arms and needed dropping an inch or so. I also thought my Light Taupe top band was a bit thin and sickly looking.

It was a relatively quick fix to unravel the shoulder straps, add another 5 rows of treble crochet to the front and back necklines then start the shoulder/neck reductions again.

It turns out you really can make this stuff up as you go!

I wet blocked it and then steam ironed it. It was firmish when I first put it on but it certainly grows when worn and is just perfectly comfortable and as close to not wearing anything as is decently possible.

Which is just what you need when it's hot, smoky and windy! I do have a short depth of field focus on these pictures but how bad is that bushfire smoke background. It's just awful.

Any more details I've forgotten? Oh., yeah, size 2.5mm hook. Countless hours, as in I didn't count, but it took ages. :)

My daughter was taking the pictures which always means horizons that are wonky and the funny end of shoot shots when she refuses to stop...

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Vogue 1456 for mum

I'd like to say Happy New Year, but with so much of our country on fire it seems too hard to find much joy in the start of the year. And since I wasn't ready for the year to finish so abruptly anyway I'm going to keep catching up on last year until these fires are out and we can all easily breathe some smoke free air.

I made my mum a shirt/blouse/tunic thing as her Christmas present...

It's only now that I've discovered that all my pictures are a bit blurry and appear to have focussed nicely on the background, not the subject. Oops. Anyway my mum might appreciate the soft focus, so let's talk about the garment.

The pattern is Vogue 1456 which is a Sandra Betzina tunic described as follows:

Tunic (semi-fitted through bust) has mandarin collar, seam detail, no side seams, draped side-front pockets, shaped front hemline longer than back, wrong side shows, hemline darts, and narrow hem. A: Notched and stitched hem on sleeves. B: Sleeveless.

It all came about after I found the fabric first. I visited Astratex for the first time in September, and I'm afraid to say it just shut its doors in December. They were having a half price sale and I bought this unusual, swampy coloured, rose patterned, crinkle/seersucker cotton gauze knowing my mum would love it. I was right.

We talked about what it should become and the decision was a sort of light jacket/tunic kind of thing. I toyed with altering some existing patterns but then Spotlight had one of their $5 Vogue pattern sales and this one made it's way into my stash.

I mostly made up the View B in a cotton from my stash first, making it in a size D - which is a little above my bust size. I figured it would be a loose fitting thing and would probably be about right for my mum. Not quite. I'm not sold on it for me as a garment, so my desire to see things finished is battling my disinterest in the thing itself. It just needs a zip and collar but that could take a while.

Anyway, for my mum I went up a size to the size E, sewed the View A with the extra pleats in the front and sleeves. I also added about 3/4" to the mid upper back by slashing and spreading the pattern. Instead of then having a centre back seam line, I just slashed and spread the upper back panel vertically upward from the waist seam, and then sewed some vertical darts to take that width back out. That way I could still cut the back piece on the fold and I still I had my old-mum-rounded-back issue taken care of.

Sadly, I hadn't actually bought enough fabric for the sleeved version of the tunic. But luckily, on the day of Melbourne Frocktails, the fabric shopping tour was visiting Astratex and the 50% discount was offered to our shoppers. I couldn't attend but I put in an order with one of the shopping trip organisers and she snaffle dup another 1m cut for me. Yet it seems to be ever so slightly darker. Only the collar and back panel were cut from the second piece of fabric, but there's a definite shade difference. Grrr...

There are lots of darts and pleats all of which had to be marked on the fabric and with this seersucker like fabric that meant thread tracing every pattern marking. Once that was all done the sewing itself was quite easy and straight forward. The pleated folded front panels are fun and there are pockets hidden inside the pleats (which are almost pockets in themselves as well)

The sleeve is finished with a little V notch. They're perhaps slightly longer than the elbow length that my mum had requested and here they're worn with the cuff turned up once. If you zoom in on the picture below you can see the notched cuff.

Finding lightweight open ended zippers of this length was tricky and I ended up ordering half a dozen from Zipperstop. This one turned out to be perfect, but there was another lighter one that probably matched the fabric better. Unfortunately that one had a stark white end on it even though the puller and teeth were a perfect beige. And two of the others, including the one that best matches my view B tunic, are inexplicably 10" longer than they're meant to be. Maybe that's why I can't be bothered finishing it.

I didn't line the tunic and in the semi-sheer, gauzy light seersucker it's perfectly cool to wear. I think the crinkle texture and the colour make it sufficiently opaque to be worn without any consideration of undergarments colour or type.

It was so very hot over the Christmas break but I think this top fits the bill perfectly for when you want to be covered but not wearing something heavy or structured. This version of the pattern and this fabric came together to make a garment that I really quite like.

You're welcome mummy! :)