Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The one that nearly ended my love of sewing

The title says it all, I had such a hard time sewing this coat that it nearly broke me! 

Living in the UK a good waterproof is essential and I wore my beloved Regatta wind/rain/bomb proof coat every day last year until it eventually started to fall apart. Don't worry, I got my money's worth!

I wanted to make my own this time round and saw this fishtail parka in an Ottobre Design Women's magazine that was perfect. Long enough to keep my upper legs warm and dry on the rainy walk to school, lots of pockets, a high collar and a deep hood. Just what I would look for in a shop bought version.

I wanted something lightweight and breathable so bought a polyester microfibre from Pennine Outdoor (thanks Lightning for the shop recommendation). The great thing about buying it from an outdoor specialist is that I could get all the hardware for it in the same basket. The only thing I bought separately was the lining fabric but that could have been sourced from there too if I was feeling lazy.

The Ottobre instructions left me so exasperated at times that I nearly gave up. I never knew how much I took Oliver and S instructions for granted until I started this project. I would have given anything for a diagram at various stages. 

The very first step was to install the welt pockets onto the front panels. I haven't attempted them before but usually get a grasp of construction techniques fairly easily, but without pictures?! No way was this going to be easy. I looked at the O+S blog post which was super helpful and covered the basics, but the pocket pieces on this coat were a bit different and so I was still puzzled. Ottobre says there is a guide on their blog, if you can find it let me know, because I searched and came up with nothing. There is a visual step-by-step for these particular welt pockets in the preceding children's issue 4/2013 so if you have it great, this is what I used to make sense of them. 

The hood is fantastically roomy and pulls tighter with a drawstring and toggle if you need it to stay put. Nothing worse than having to hang onto your hood in a rainy gale whilst pushing a pram and looking after an older child. Whilst carrying school bags. Are you with me?!

There is also an elasticated section around the brim which makes it a bit snugger.

I made the size 44cm and was very pleased with the fit. The length is just right and the drawstring waist means that I can cinch it in so it doesn't look too boxy.

Those welt pockets on the chest area take some getting used to. It is actually really comfy to have my hands at that level and because of natural body heat, it is a warm place to keep your hands. But does it look like I am fondling my chest? I don't know. I can see my husband finding those pockets too appealing to ignore!

I did nearly give up several times and because of a stubborn refusal to admit defeat, I have been a misery to live with over the past two weeks. My apologies have already been uttered and sentiments discussed between myself, husband and children. This was not a happy project and although I am feeling some warmth now that it is all over, for me sewing is part of what I do because I love it. I didn't love this. 

I was empowered to write a proper review of the pattern over at Sewing Pattern Review. I could only find one person who had made this before so thought my two-pennies worth might help someone who was struggling with it too.

I need a comfort blanket and so am having a day off before diving back into some Oliver and S patterns to nurse my wounds with. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Burda 9492 Girls Skirt

This is a really great girls skirt pattern. I saw a version stitched by the very talented MC and just had to purchase the pattern for my girls.

By happy coincidence the style is a mini version of the Everyday Skirt by Liesl + co. I wear one of my skirts at least twice a week and they are so comfortable. Since the design is so similar, I knew my girl would wear this without hesitation!

The skirt has side front pockets, gathers to the front, a flat front waistband with an elasticated back waistband. It also has two pockets to the rear. I am undecided about the functionality of those. I like them but have to question whether they are entirely necessary.

This is View B, the longer version. 

The length is actually quite generous. It falls at a flattering knee length. I like it on the long side but if it were shortened by another inch or two, it would still look great.

The fabric is a poplin with a print I couldn't resist. We are low on (non-school) skirts at the moment so I will make a few more to bulk up her wardrobe. I wanted to get some solid print skirts in there so we don't have to think too much about matching tops, but this girl needs some fun prints as well!

I used a fancy stitch on the topstitching line for the back pockets. So many of the embroidery stitches on my machine are neglected, I should make a vow to use them all at least once!

The back pockets make the skirt look almost back-to-front. I like the idea of making a speedier version and just using the back skirt piece with the pockets for detail on the front of the skirt too.

But to miss out on those useful side pockets would be a shame.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Oliver + S: Hide & Seek Dress

Ha! I finally took the plunge and made up this dress. This is after having pattern and fabric in a tempting bundle on the side for a few weeks.

I knew two things when I bought this Hide and Seek Dress pattern; the first is that I would love it (true love comes easily with any O+S pattern) and that I wanted to make a black version first. This is the size 7 and I am very happy with both fit and length. No need for any mods on this one.

I chose a cotton-linen blend in solid black and to jazz it up a touch, a multi-coloured raindrop print from Timeless Treasures. I wanted the front yoke panel and welt pockets to be in the contrast and the back yoke in the solid black. For some reason I am not sold on the contrast back.

The linen blend fabric does crease like a devil and these photos were taken after a car journey so not looking as pristine as off the ironing board. Still it is a comfortable and light dress to wear. The length is generous and I could get away with dressing her in an additional petticoat layer and tights when it gets cooler.

The back view looks like a little girls dress from the Victorian period. Maybe it is the sombre colour but I can visualize an apron tie creeping around the back waist here.

She was so excited to have a new dress, it has been a while since we updated her selection. I had trouble getting her changed out of this later on in the day.

The style of this dress ticks all the boxes for me. The length of the sleeves is perfect for our current August weather and it will transition well into Autumn with a long sleeved tee underneath. The sleeve cuffs are finished with the same technique as the Lisette Portfolio Top which is really impressive and professional looking.

I enjoyed the construction of the dress but have to say - phew! that side panel to middle panel seam is a long one to sew in one go!

I will have a tunic version on the go as soon as I get some other things done. The kids go back next week and I am already planning more sewing time. Maybe a bit of housework. If I must. But mostly lots of sewing!

Friday, 22 August 2014

School Cardigan: Blank Slate Pattern

I haven't done much uniform sewing over the holidays and my to-do list was actually quite small for school prep. I had this cardigan and a possible new school bag in mind. I was thinking the messenger bag from LTTS book, but I haven't got there yet. Too many days out!

Boo's school cardi managed to last her through reception and year one (making it a great buy) so I was tempted to take the easy route and just buy another one. However, I spotted this pattern the Cool Cardigan from Blank Slate Patterns which was an exact replica of the one from the shop. And us sewing mum's just can't resist the challenge of recreating something!

It doesn't have raglan sleeves but I doubt anyone will notice. I can also get the school embroidery put on at the shop so will try to get that done pre-term. No promises though.

This is the comparison with her old one. Pretty close eh? As you can see from my photo's, I made the markings for pockets, thinking I might add them on, but in the end I chose to stick to the original as much as possible.

The sweatshirt fleece is from Ebay. Most online stores that sell sweatshirt fabric stock the same range of school-type colours. This was a good price and I bought some matching ribbing as well. I thought I would use the ribbing for the button band and waistband, but in the end I only used it for the cuffs.

The fit is fantastic. I made the size 7, could probably have got away with the 6 but I like knowing I won't have to renew it come January. The sleeves sit past her wrists, just. Perfect for keeping the chilly wind out in the playground.

I did all the construction on the overlocker and the fabric was a dream to sew. The buttonholes caused me grief (as per usual) especially that bottom one. I didn't interface that section of the waistband and it made a great deal of difference. The reverse of the buttonhole is butchered. (mental note to interface next time)

This is a very speedy project and I have a size 4 cut out for L in a grey marl knit. It is seriously snuggly and so will make a good layer for the winter.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Ottobre Knit Dress

I have decided to do a batch of knit sewing for Boo as she is quite low on t-shirts and leggings. When contemplating knits I know the best place to go for inspiration is my Ottobre Design magazines. There are always so many lovely knit projects.

I have some patterns set aside for tops - the Figgys Celestial Tee fits well and so does Rae's Flash Back Tee. For Leggings I will make a few of the Figgy's Sunki's and  some O+S Playtime as well. Both of those fit well.

When the knit needles are in you might as well get a few projects ticked off in one go!

This dress caught my eye. The Seesaw dress from the 3/2013 issue. The one on the cover which I always assumed was made from a woven is actually a nice basic shape jersey dress. The collar didn't appeal, so I left it off. 

The knit fabric is a nice stretchy cotton-elastane mix that I bought from Remnant House. The ribbing is from the only place I ever buy ribbing, the marvellous Kitschy Coo.

I have made the 128cm seeing as she is only 1cm off. It is certainly going to last the rest of the summer.

I used clear elastic tape to stablize the shoulder seams and tried using it to gather the skirt as well. The gathering didn't go as well as I had hoped. I found it a bit fiddly and to be honest would rather gather by basting stitch. I don't think the seam lies flat enough with the tape there. My method needs practice!

I could easily use the top half of this pattern to make a vest top. The length is perfect and it all comes together so quickly on the serger.

I just ordered some more knit fabric off an Ebay shop as my supply was low. It is always nerve wracking buying fabric on Ebay so here's hoping it will be good quality when it arrives.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Figgy's Banyan Shorts

I find myself eating my words. Back in March when I made some Picnic shorts I thought that they would see us through the summer. That 3 pairs of shorts would be enough. Pffff what was I thinking?! The weather has been glorious. Even when it has rained, it is still warm. Lovely.

I wanted to make a pair of shorts that were new to me. I could have made another pair of Finch shorts seeing as I know Boo has moved up to the next size but this pattern has been neglected in my pattern baskets for too long. 

I fancied the challenge of the zip. I have never made a pair of trousers/shorts with a functioning fly and fly shield before and found that although the instructions left me baffled at certain points I muddled though. I understood what to do but would have appreciated specific placement measurements with regards to where to place the edges of the shield and how far back from the zipper teeth the stitch line should be. As a result, the zipper pull sticks out below the button more than I am happy with. I wish it tucked away nicely.

Things like that only make me more determined to do it again perfectly, so I will come back to the pattern again with those niggles in mind.

I made the size 8/9 which is the largest size. Another pattern on its last stretch for this girl.

I am a sucker for pleats and the finished effect they have on these shorts is glorious. I love how they sit on her. She has room to move (run, jump, cartwheel, twirl) and there is enough ease and flexibility to allow her to do all these things comfortably.

The darts shape the back over her bottom so when she sticks hands in pockets they don't pull tight across the back. The pocket bags are HUGE! I can get my whole hand in there. The way the opening is cut on the slant makes them blend in with the pleats.

The fabric is a stretch drill which is ever so soft. I almost wish I could wear these.
She will wear these regularly for her Scouts meetings over the summer and if they prove themselves then I shall make the longer pants version for when it gets colder.

I also paired them with another Figgy's pattern, the Celestial Tee. I only took a brief snap of this during Kids Clothes month, as yet un-blogged. It is a great pattern too. I love the dipped hem and the relaxed fit. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Oliver and S Swing Set Top

This is one pattern that I have had my eye on for ages but couldn't justify buying because elder daughter would only have been in the largest size (5T) for a few months. 

Both the skirt and top are just beautiful with lovely sweeping curves and gathers, and with the wave of hot weather currently hitting the UK, I gave in and bought the digital version for L.

I thought she would be okay in a 3T but upon re-measuring her, she falls into the larger 4T, which is a pity as it shortens the life of the pattern considerably. 

The fabric is a special meter that I have been saving. It is from the Cat Nap collection by Lizzy House. I love it and have been looking for the right project. I also have this print from the same collection, I have seen that made up into a Swing Set Top and it looks pretty spectacular!

There is plenty of room in the size 4T. It fits her with enough ease to let the breeze float through on a warm day. The bodice fits over her head without needing to undo the buttons for the time being but it is nice to know they are there for when she grows.

The best detail for me about this top is the curve of the bodice, isn't it sweet?

I found three buttons shaped like leaves in just the right colours which suit this fun print.

At first I thought the straps would be a little on the short side. But if you happen to think that too while making it up, rest assured, they are just right.