Monday, 22 May 2023

Men's Metro T - part 1

Have I told you I bought myself a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine?

I'd borrowed one from a friend ages ago and went crazy making T-shirts for the kids with iron on vinyl designs and one supergirl outfit! I gave that machine back to the friend, and every year or so afterwards I would do another little bit of online sleuthing as to whether the Silhouette or the Cricut was better. Eventually I decided on the Silhouette Cameo 4 based on two things: More freedom to create your own designs and import graphics into designs, and a deeper cutting depth. I know I'm not about to go cutting cork or leather right now, but I sure as heck don't want to not be able to should I decide I want to!

Armed with a new toy I had a sudden urge to create something. Turning to the household head of IT, I asked what he'd like on a T-shirt. "Tabs or Spaces" he replied.

Apparently that's a defining choice amongst code writers. Obviously I had no clue and needed to be instructed as to the graphics that would represent each word.

What I did know was that the T-shirt would be the Liesl + Co men's Metro T in XL as per every other one. Easy. 

He requested navy or dark blue as the colour. That I didn't have, but I'm not above shopping for fabric when the need arises ;) I found this perfect dark blue remnant, about 90cm size, at Fabric Deluxe and I suspect it's a bamboo blend? It is a lovely fabric.

The iron on vinyl is a Silhouette branded one that is a metallic blue and changes colour a bit with the light reflecting off it. Subtle yet bright, and super cool.

Here's the household IT guru in his natural environment: horizontal with laptop

This photo is taken at my parent's house. When he's not to be found napping on a couch or deckchair he'll be out on the mountain bike trails near their place.

After visiting for many years, it's in the last two or three years we've discovered a great network of single track just out of town.  I think when visiting the in-laws involves unlimited GnTs, couch naps and singletrack there can't be much to complain about right? What's that? I'm told we need to get rid of the veggie garden and put in a pool.

Anyway, back in January I had the idea of making him a T-shirt with the Strava map of the local mtb trails on it. We were up in Bright so I dropped into Maaidesign to visit and pick up some of her lightweight athletic knit fabric.

This time the transfer is a metallic silver (still Silhouette brand) with the folks' home town GPS co-ordinates, the fire-road drop in and then about 60km of sweet singletrack meandering. That's his happy place in T-shirt form.

Here we are coming back out of the bush along the fire road with the lure of coffee and cake in town...

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Gr6 graduation - Adora style

If the dress request had come after the falling out of love with the pants that were soooo much work, the answer would have been quick and brutal. 

She must have caught me when I was riding high on the wave of having made the exact pants she'd asked for, and having been proven right that graduation was an event that called for a fancy outfit, rather than yellow cargo pants. Of course I could, and would, make the dress.

The brief: A deep red dress with overlay just like this one that the cartoon character Adora is wearing.

I was somewhat relieved by the dress design, as my memories of the 1980's version of the cartoon She-Ra was that she wore nothing more than a fur bikini and a sword.

There weren't many images of the back of the dress, and A declared she wanted it to be backless. 

I had one pattern that looked like it might fit the bill. A vintage one-size, sleeveless shift dress with rolled collar. Butterick  4379 I made it for myself in 2020 to attend a 50th birthday party. The theme was hawaii/50s/bright, and I figured this pattern in some wax print would fit the bill. Needless to say the party never went ahead. My dress has only been worn once on another summery day and this is the only photo of it, and please ignore whatever my face is doing. For a much better write up of the pattern, and in anticipation of me never getting around to add it to my blog properly, go check out Lower Your Presser Foot. 

Anyway, I tried that dress on A, and if we took about 2" depth out of the chest/armscye it wasn't a bad fit. I knocked up a muslin version in some cotton to see how the backless modification would fare. Meanwhile hitting up all the online stores again to try and find the right fabric.

It was Supercheap fabrics to the rescue once more with a satin backed crepe and matching georgette. The colour was a bit deeper than desired, but the need to have the two fabrics matching was more important than it being the exact shade of red.

The final version had more tweaking on the go and was very much pinned to fit then adjusted a bit as we went along. Thankfully a gold elastic belt was readily available at the local shopping mall. Done and ready for the proper graduation evening.

Monday, 15 May 2023

Gr6 graduation cargo pants

I'd be getting an F for the lateness of this assignment if blogging about a sewing job was actually a requirement. Instead I'm giving myself an A+ for execution, and a "highly commended" for my positive attitude in the face of an unimpressible tweenager....

Late last year, as the end of primary school was coming up, A put in her request for her "graduation outfit". She wanted to wear a black button up shirt, under her favourite pink jumper with a pair of yellow cargo pants.

Since she had zero chance of finding yellow cargo pants anywhere in a shop, she realised it would be worth her while asking nicely....

I quite liked the idea of making her cargo pants, even if I didn't entirely understand the outfit's appeal. In my head, the "graduation" was an evening affair and this was an unusual outfit, but I wasn't about to become the fashion police.

There's a lot of tasteful mustard shades of heavy cotton drills or denims out there, but she wanted a proper buttercup yellow. I found this lovely, soft, cotton drill online at SuperCheap fabrics and it fit the colour brief perfectly. I also clicked on their black, lightweight cotton for the shirt. The quality of that fabric is not so nice. If it ever gets worn, and then washed, it might soften up. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's stay in the happy zone where I'm enjoying making exactly what's been requested of me.

The shirt is the Liesl + Co Recital shirt, with the collar from the Classic Shirt. These two patterns are designed to go together in a mix'n'match sense. I made a size 2 as per her chest measurement but it's probably a bit tight across the shoulders and upper arms. 

I didn't have a women's cargo pants pattern and she was very keen on the Waffle Patterns Azuki workpants - in reality I think she just falls for everything Yuki designs when it's included in one of the awesome little sketches she does.

The pattern is fabulous, and the only quibble I have is that I bought and paid for the printed pattern. What that actually entailed was receiving a copyshop print out of the pattern, but still only getting all the instructions digitally. I'm a fan of a nicely printed instruction booklet, or a pattern in a packet. This was a bit disappointing and should perhaps be advertised as a "printout of digital pattern".

I made the size 40 pants and followed the pattern suggestion to baste the pants pieces together to try them on before taking them apart again and adding all the pockets etc. Kind of like making a muslin with the final fabric. Fine, so long as you're likely to err on the side of too big.

She wanted every pocket and extra option on these, and I think the final count was something like twelve pockets! I added some rivets as I went, and I suspect I even snuck a label under a pocket edge somewhere although it's not visible in any of these photos.

The only adjustment to the pattern was to take a bit of height off the back yoke, and bring it in closer to the lower back, and then shorten the waistband to match.

The little pouch bag, which contributes 3 or 4 pockets to the total pocket count is removable and attaches with press studs. 

She was absolutely in love with these pants when they were finished. She wore them dog walking and at every opportunity. It took all her willpower to not wear them immediately before graduation day so that they would be washed and dry and ready....

The day came and she even managed to talk me into driving her to school so she wouldn't need to put her bike helmet over her hair-do. I insisted on a few photos before we left, but something caused the happy yellow pants mood to evaporate. Since the blog is about my sewing, and to be fair to someone who was having a bad morning and who is actually quite beautiful, I've cropped her face out of all these pictures. 

For a much younger, and very cute, refresher on what the "death stare" looks like: try here.

We got to school in the car, only to see everyone else arriving still in regular school uniform. Nobody's mood was improved by this and my only suggestions were either; I would provide a note explaining she'd misread the process and assumed it was a casual clothes day, and I'd deferred to her as she's usually more on top of this kind of shit than I am, or, I'd drive her home, get myself to work on time and she could get changed and ride back to school and be late. She took the latter.

The pants were worn again, a bit later, on the actual end of term day which was a free dress Friday.

Meanwhile, I'd been informed that "graduation" was actually an evening affair (ha! I knew it!) and could she please have a dress just like the one that Adora wears to the prom in the update version of the She-Ra cartoon.

Are we all sighing deeply and counting to ten in unison? 

But you know I went back for round 2 don't you? 

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Henri for him

I knocked out two pair of Henri joggers (pattern Jalie 3909) for the big kid and since I just recently "fixed" one of the pair I figured I should finally document them here.

I only photographed the one pair, but I'm sure you can imagine navy trackpants. Possibly even if you hadn't already been shown a pair of grey trackpants :)

I'm failing in documenting things in a timely enough manner to remember what I did. Size was by waist/hip measurements and I'm guessing I added 2" inseam length. 

Both pairs had a waistband different to the pattern construction. I use the Oliver + S method of enclosing the waistband seams, leaving a gap, then insert elastic and stitch it down at centre back to prevent it twisting. 

The drawstrings are cool recycled denim/cotton cording that I got from String Harvest ages ago. Already both drawstrings have been "lost" back through the buttonholes they're meant to come out of and he doesn't care, so there they stay. 

The navy sweater fleece had much less stretch than the grey and since I'd used the main fabric for the cuffs he could barely get his feet (flippers) through them. It was a family tug-o-war effort to undress him! It's those cuffs that I've just recently cut off and reattached with no reduction in hem diameter. Now they're back in regular rotation.

I snuck this hot pink label onto these ones and got away with it. He's so easy to sew for. xx

Monday, 24 April 2023

Melbourne Frocktails 2022

I'm already starting into planning mode for this year's Melbourne Frocktails and I realise I still haven't shared what I made for Frocktails 2022. I didn't get great photos so maybe that's why I've stalled.

After missing out on having a Frocktails in 2020 and 2021 we didn't want to wait until spring of '22 so we brought it forward and went with a winter date. It was fun to be thinking of sewing for a different season.

My first thought, and what I stuck with, was a full, brown silk skirt and a simple bodysuit on top. A simple outfit, but buckle up, it could be a long blog post....

Can I even remember what I did?
Let's start with the skirt. That was always meant to be the main feature. The brown silk was bought on sale from Draper's Fabrics long before anything else and I think I guessed at 5m knowing it was going to be a big skirt.

The pattern choices came down to one or two different Vogue patterns that I found (and bought) and I ended up plumping for Vogue 8980 (shown variously with a designer Vogue style pattern cover or the Very easy Very Vogue style line drawings.) I went with the full, hi-lo hemmed skirt (view C) and the pleated waistband of view B. 

I've got no idea what size it ended up being. Since the waistband was the only thing that had to fit it didn't seem all that important. I suspect I started with the size 16 (a smidge smaller than what my waist was measuring) but by the time the skirt was attached to the waistband it was obviously far too small. I must have assumed the "normal" amount of crazy positive ease built into some commercial patterns. Well not this one.

I unpicked everything and let out all the skirt pleats and cut a new waistband but then I was panicked that it was now feeling too loose. I decided to hang it in the closet for a month and work on the bodysuit and maybe eat more cake!

The bodysuit is based on the Jalie leotard 3136. I liked the wide bateau neckline. The challenge was keeping the shaping that is created by the horizontal seams that sperate the yoke/chest sections from the waist sections, while getting rid of the seam itself. I could also raise the back neckline up to a standard eight as I was adding crotch snaps so I didn't need to get into it through the neckhole as one might with a normal leotard. - If I'm going to drink cocktails all night I'm going to need to use the bathroom! (and you do not want to see my try to climb out a neckhole after too many drinks)

The beige/gold sparkly knit came from Fabric deluxe and was exactly what I was after. There was a lot of pattern tweaking and at least one muslin until I eventually got what I wanted. Then I freaked out about nipples. If I had to choose between only two scenarios, one being visible back-fat bra strap lines and the other being visible nipples, I'd go seventies child and free the nips every time. 

However, neither of those scenarios seemed appropriate for a potentially cold, but definitely fancy soiree. My "solution" which I'm still very unconvinced by was to add some foam bra cups into the lining of the bodysuit.

I think they've ended up being far too molded and "booby" looking for my tastes and I've been very tempted to go back and take them out. But now that I look at that picture above I'm reminded that they're sewn in-between two layers of lining at the front, and once I'd attached the sleeves all access was lost. They did solve the no bra lines/no nipples dilemma, but I was aware that during the evening I felt like the bra cups were heading neckwards as if to strangle me, as my boobs tried to leave the party exiting downwards. Sigh.

The happy distraction from all this garment sewing drama was doing a Vogue Knitting Live course to learn tubular bead crochet with Florence Spurling. Due to time zones (and living at the arse end of the world) it was a 2am session for me, but what better time to learn a new craft?!

I bought the recommended bigger, learner beads and made a not too shabby necklace (I think there's a picture of that in yet another unblogged garment photo for another day). I tried them as hoop earrings but the weight was crazy and I felt like my ears would be sliced up in no time.

Never one to shy from a challenge I bought the much tinier, advanced level beads and set to work crocheting some tubular beads to slip over a plain metal earring hoop. I'm really proud of how these turned out. There's a dorky looking but super useful bit of free software called J-Bead which allows you to design the pattern you want and then it calculates the threading order and how many beads of each colour you need. Cool.

There's no denying this was crazy fiddly work, but once the beads are all threaded correctly and the first round is done it's actually not so hard. I think I used five different shades of beads from the deepest brown through to a very light metallic champagne colour.

As I was trying to take selfies of my earrings, Flipper was taking photos of me and ended up with this cute camera film style image

By this time I was ready to go back and face the skirt again. I finished the waistband and it fit just fine - I hadn't changed physically I think I'd just needed to walk away from it mentally. Anyway we were reconciled. I'll admit to being far too lazy to hand hem the skirt, and I was also loathe, without any help, to try and trim it level due to the drop of the bias sections. You can scroll back up to the first pictures and yell at me again to "trim the hem to account for the bias!!". It needed it.

I used the rolled hem foot attachment on the sewing machine and just went at that hem like a lady who'd stopped caring. All EIGHT metres of it. Seriously. ( I measured the hem the day after Frocktails and came up with 8m of hem and no fewer than 5 spilt cocktails stains :) )

So, last minute, I decided I need a short jacket. I traced off as many short jacket patterns as I owned and tried to fit them onto as many small bits of appropriate fabrics as I could find in the stash. The only match, and quite a pleasing one was this:

The main fabric would have been too shifty to use on its own so I underlined it with a beige cotton drill. And then I did want I've always sworn not to do: stayed up past midnight sewing bias binding on seams to finish them.

Of course it was only worn to and from the venue, and apart from trying it on in my bedroom I don't have any good photos of it. The jacket made it, just, into the annual bedtime bathroom mirror selfie

This year, 2023, will be the 10th anniversary for Melbourne Frocktails. Are you coming? 

Thursday, 13 April 2023

Liesl + Co Sintra Dress

The other spring pattern I tested for Liesl + Co was the Sintra Halter top and dress. 

This pattern is a kind of revisit of a top within the Butterick Lisette 6464 pattern (which I made back here), but this time it's all about the top, with varying cup sizes and a dress option.

I was pretty sure I was going to like this one, so I went straight for some long stashed Nani Iro double gauze, that came from Janice at UrbanSew 

I was a bit size-shy after my slightly tight pants, so I sewed a straight 12 (measurements were between 10 and 12) to make sure I had enough room over the hips.

We were out in the country at Christmas time and there was certainly some warm enough weather for this dress to come out to play.

The pattern introduction is over on the Oliver + S blog here. I love the faux pantsuit look of combining the Sintra halter top and the Cannes trousers in the same fabric.

Friday, 7 April 2023

Liesl + Co Cannes test

I helped out with the pattern test for the new spring patterns from Liesl + Co. 

These are the Cannes Wide Legged Trousers that I made, and tried to photograph, during a period of intense rainy weather. They're pants that really want to be worn out to a fancy restaurant in late summer evening sunshine.... But here's my dining room in the gloom instead.

They're a super wide, swishy trouser that worked really well in this lightweight tencel twill from Fabric Deluxe.

The construction at the front has a great pocket stay that's stabilised in the zipper so the they have the belly control section and then the pleat in the trouser front is free to hang without any tension. I appreciated that as I possibly undermeasured myself and they came out a fraction too small. They are a "close fit" across the backside and very slightly strained at the side pockets.

I haven't really had a chance to wear them yet, as when I went to grab them for a recent lunch date (maybe not wise with the close fit issue anyway) I yanked up the zipper and promptly pulled it right off where I had shorten the zipper to avoid sewing over metal teeth at the waistband. I fear I'll have to pick the zipper out and replace it. 

My top is an as-yet-unblogged bodysuit that I made to wear to Melbourne Frocktails last year, and I still can't decide if I should pull out the foam bra cups. On this miserable, rainy day they were useful to avoid the full headlight glare of a tight fitting top on a cold day!

For the Cannes wide legged trousers in a much more exotic location, check out the introductory post on the Oliver + S blog here