Saturday 29 May 2021

Little things without patterns

When motivation for a big project is lacking, I quite enjoy making something up in an afternoon using scraps.

In that way, our guinea pigs have come to be the happy occupants of not one, but two woollen winter tents.

Here's the original with them kind of modelling in it...

I cut a 10"x10" square for the base then 4 triangles, each with 10" wide base and whatever side length (you do the math) resulted from cutting to the centre of the top of the square.

The main fabric is scraps of wool coating. That was then basted to stiff interfacing. The lining is some leftover sweater wool from this very cosy jumper.

On this first version I constructed both tents, outer and then inner and then attached them by hand sewing the bias binding around the door opening. I didn't secure the lining inside as it's good to be able to pull it out through the door to shake out all the poo (so much poo!) and when washing.

It's getting cold, and they definitely like their tent. It needs a wash once a week when we do the hutch clean out so I thought I'd make a second to be used while this one's drying...

I've just bought myself a new sewing machine (I think she needs an introductory blog post of her own, doesn't she?!) and it's a beauty.

So, in playing with some of the automatic embroidery stitches I added their names over the door..

This time I sewed the opening bias binding on the machine at the start and then constructed the outer tent to one side and the inner lining tent to another side before finally turning the whole thing inside out through an opening in the back of the lining tent.  The lining on this one was an old ready to wear wool sweater of mine which had a few holes in it, but I could cut around those.

They are so stupidly cute.

Equally cute is the big kid who started high school this year and needed a laptop case for his school computer. I was keen to make one but wasn't sure he'd let me... He finally realised he'd never be able to purchase a simple pouch that also had space for a mouse, charger and ear phones. It seems laptop cases are either minimalist shells or big bags. Mum to the rescue..

I started with just some measurements and what was  in the stash. Thankfully the "Glory Days of Motor Sport at Albert Park" was in the book stash and is exactly the same dimensions as the school laptop so I used that as my template.

The design was dictated by having a vintage zipper that was exactly the right length to go around three sides and make it open flat. The fabric was a remnant of a thick cotton moleskin, some wool batting and lining from Flipper's Tron shirt. (If you're in the mood for a flashback, here's some cute little baddies in their Tron pyjamas!)

I started with a welt pocket opening for the earbud pocket

Then added a flap with some reflective piping sewn in.

And then I made some maths mistakes so I stopped photographing the progress shots as that seemed too much like tempting fate.

For the main front pocket to store the mouse and charger I used the technique from the bellowed pocket of the Oliver + S Field Trip cargo pants

I thought I'd calculated the width of the pocket plus the extra for the height, but when I went to make the box corners I realised I'd only added the height once, rather than twice (each side).

So the pocket ended up slightly smaller and shallower than I'd intended. but it also ended up exactly the right size for its purpose. Go figure!

I trimmed some sections of the Vlisco lining fabric to use as highlights, then just ran a basting stitch to enable me to fold under the curved edges and applique stitched them onto the front. I was deligted with how cool it looks. I even remembered to tuck a little "You Can't Buy This" label under the applique on the main pocket.

Sewing metal zippers around corners isn't exactly fun, but it's not really that hard either. I'm glad I bothered as he loves how it lays flat and he doesn't have to get the laptop in and out through an opening. The one addition he's said that he'd like is little elastic corners (like photo corners) so the computer can keep wearing it's cover once opened. I think that confirms that he thinks it's pretty cool too.

I wonder if, in two years time, my scribblings in the sewing journal make any sense. I'd love to be able to get the maths wrong in exactly the same way and make one just like this for the littlest when she starts high school.

Friday 7 May 2021

Tessuti linen apron

Where did April go? I've been making things alright, but my motivation for updating the blog has hit a wall. - I think that's to do with a pattern test I did in January that kinda sucked as an experience. I want to write about the sewing and pattern reviewing experience because I document everything here, but it won't be an altogether pleasant write up, so I keep putting it off.

Meanwhile I make stuff.... Easter sees us travel out to my parents place for the long weekend and I always like to take along a little non-machine project. I decided to make an apron for a client of mine.

I bought 1.5m of lovely natural linen from Fabric Deluxe and then downloaded and printed off the free Tessuti Apron pattern while I was at my folks place.

That always sounds like an easy thing to do but it never is. I should have been able to download to my phone and print from there via the wireless connection at my parent's house. But inevitably the printer settings need tweaking and the test square is never right. It took about 4 tries and using the main pc not a phone to get the printer to not scale or adjust the pattern. I have a nice crossover back apron pattern in Sanae Ishida's book Sewing Happiness that is based on rectangles, but I was keen on the curved armholes of this pattern. So often PDF pattern's are more trouble than their worth, even when they're free! I'm glad I persevered as the apron turned out beautifully.

All I sewed on that weekend away was the handstitching on the pocket anyway, and I adjusted the pocket size to suit my stitching, so the pattern could have waited until I was home.

I didn't want the threads on the back of the pocket to be exposed so I made it a lined pocket, turned through an opening at the bottom. 

Otherwise I mostly followed the pattern, although I turned a 5/8" hem rather than 1/2" and followed Liesl's technique of basting along the fold line, pressing up, then tucking under the raw edge. As opposed to Tessuti's suggested technique of trying to baste the 1/4" line and turning twice.

I wouldn't normally sew something for a client, but this lady is especially nice. She's the Japanese-Australian grandmother whose adult son is technically the dog' owner, but she's very involved in the dog's care. During our long lockdown last winter she took up baking and would regularly come to visit the clinic and bring me biscuits or cakes. (vet clinics were one of the few open businesses and I think we got  a lot of visitors who just needed an outing more than anything else!)

Her little dog has a ridiculous list of illnesses and injuries for one so young, so she keeps me both busy and well fed with snacks! Bless little Ada. (and yes, she usually looks that cross when she comes to see me, so I think my embroidery is fair! :) )

I hope my apron is well liked and useful. I enjoyed making it.