Saturday, 29 December 2012

Oliver + S: Hopscotch Top

My first tentative attempt at knits! I bought the pattern to force myself to try the top. I really need to learn how to sew with knit fabric but have always been a little scared.

It went ok. A few little hiccups but I was determined not to be put off. I used a t-shirt of mine that sat in the draw more often than it came out. Yellow is not really my colour unless I have a tan, otherwise I look jaundiced. It was also a little too tight and made me look busty so to my husbands dismay, I cut it up.

I kept the original hems intact. Sleeves and bottom hemline were both the original ones. I unpicked the neck binding and reused it because it was ribbed and I thought it would look better than cutting a fresh strip. Besides I didn't have a lot to play with and it made sense to reuse it.

There was a logo in white across the chest of the original top and some of it had to be included in the cut. As I saw this as a practice run, it didn't matter.

(the brand logo just sneaking on here as I used the pre-done hems)

So, I said there were hiccups... here is where I bodged it. One of the neck binding edges didn't make it into the stitched seamline of the yoke on my first attempt. I had to unpick. New discovery - unpicking a stretch zig-zag on knit fabric is NOT easy! So I had to tuck it back through and re-sew into place.  It looks so uneven! Grrr....

I do love the style on her though and as a bonus I now have something to match the yellow and blue leggings she got for Christmas!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Oliver + S: Denim Hopscotch Skirt

So there I was busily sewing a Sailboat Top for my niece when the postman delivered this lovely parcel! 

Apart from when I order the PDF patterns, which come straight from the Oliver + S website, I always order my patterns from Backstitch. They send them out incredibly fast, which I feel is always important when sitting at home waiting for patterns. Plus they have a really good range so if you are based in the UK, have a look at their site.

This skirt is a birthday present for a school friend of my daughters. There have been so many parties recently. I hope it calms down soon! You can't go wrong with a denim skirt so I feel like this is a safe option and a perfect chance to test out a new pattern.

The skirt itself is easily put together, with a front placket feature held together with buttons. The pockets are interesting, they involve a few origami moves to get the folds right and they work beautifully with the simplicity of the skirt. 

All the time I was making this I kept recalling a skirt my mum used to wear back when I was little. I will have to go through the photo albums when I get time because I remember her wearing something quite similar.

The orange buttons were my daughters choice. Apparently that is the little girls favourite colour. I can honestly say from meeting her that she is completely bonkers and a big bundle of fun, so the colour is probably just right for her!

I made a size 5T here. The size is just right for my little one so I won't have to get my tracing paper out again when I make one for her. All in all, a very sweet skirt. I am finding it harder and harder to choose which O+S pattern is my favourite. Everytime I try a new one, it goes into the number one slot!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Chrismas Presents all sewn up!

I feel like I have been glued to my sewing machine over the last few days! 

I wanted to send my nieces some handmade clothes this year. I spent ages deciding on what to make and chose the Sailboat top and a Sunday Brunch Skirt for G who is the eldest. Now the skirt was one of my KCWC items but it hadn't been worn, not surprising given the amount of skirts in my daughters wardrobe. The pink corduroy was bought to go with the Japanese print anyway so it makes a cute outfit. 

I made a bit of an effort to go the extra mile on the finish of this top. I wanted it to be perfect. I finished the inside seams by tucking them over to the inside and zig-zagging to secure them.

For my youngest niece L I had a dilemma because I don't have many patterns in the size 3T bracket. I wanted to make them both Oliver + S patterns. I only had the Puppet Show pattern that would work, so I browsed their website, caved in and bought the Bubble dress PDF. I am so so glad I did. What an amazing pattern. I love it!

Now L is a cute little bundle of blond hair and blue eyes so when I rummaged through my stash and saw this cornflower blue I knew it would be perfect.

Ahh those little cap sleeves just kill me with cuteness! Sewing the curves on the bodice took some concentration but they really are beautiful.

The pattern calls for lightweight fabric like batiste or broadcloth for the lining. I used a very lightweight white cotton that used to be a mens shirt. It is extremely soft, has a peachy feel and feels heavenly next to the skin. I am happy thinking about how comfy this will feel on her.

The next items on my machine will be Bubble dresses for my own children. I think they will be perfect for our family Christmas party. I need to make a 2T and a 5T. Hopefully the 5T will fit my eldest. She is currently a 6T within the O+S ranges but the measurements are close so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My First Tova

First of all let me say that I am slightly embarrassed by how long I have had this pattern and not done anything with it. It must be over 12 months now. I bought the downloadable version and it has sat quietly on my laptop, until now.

I made a muslin first to test the fit and all seemed good. I made up the XL size as it measured up right in the bust. The sides may need tweaking a little on my next one. It would be nice not to have so much fabric around my middle, it feels quite full. I would either need to take a larger seam allowance to just bring it in a bit (if I was using the same fabric weight again) or use a lighter fabric so it drapes better. I used a quilting weight cotton in bottle green for this one.

I wore this all day once it came off the machine. First to a children's party in the morning and all the way through to drinks with my family in the evening. It is such an easy top to wear!

The front opening does flap open quite a way so I would always wear a tank/vest underneath but that is my usual style anyway. I chose to give some structure to the plackets with lightweight interfacing. In hindsight I would only need to do that again on a lighter fabric. Quilting weight stands up quite well on its own. The plackets have softened in the wash so I like it even more. 

The sleeve length I adore, especially with the cuff which always hovers over my arm without actually touching it. I have this weird dislike of sleeves that gather around my elbow. I don't like the feeling. Even when I push my sleeves up to work better I have to pull them straight down again because I realise it is uncomfortable. Like I say, weird.

I am not going to let much time go by before I make another one of these. I would like to try the dress version as it might make winter a bit more glam. All in all a really good pattern to follow and a very useful top to have in your wardrobe!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bye Bye Baby Pants

These are the Basic Pocket Pants from the book 'Growing Up Sew Liberated'. Why Bye Bye Baby? Well my brother declared upon seeing the finished product that they looked like something the Bay City Rollers would have worn. I take that on the chin, they are a bit retro!

I bought a scrap remnant online from Nicole at Dots n Stripes awhile back. I couldn't help it, the gnomes and toadstool houses got me! There wasn't a huge amount but I thought I could use it as a trim so these pants were perfect.

I did my best to get the pictures of all the fairytale folk in the best placements. These pants have contrast trim on the leg cuffs, pocket bindings and waistband casing.

The method in the book calls for the bias tape to be sandwiched around the pocket pieces and sewn in one go. I will be honest, I have never had much luck getting this method to work for me (too many times have I turned a piece of work over only to find I have completely gone off the line underneath). So I attached it in 2 stages. First by opening up the strip and sewing it to the right side of the pocket (see above picture) and then by folding it all over to the back and sewing it in place (creating the sandwich of layers).

I just find I have more success and a neater seam this way.

I forgot to take a shot of them unworn, they went on more or less straight away!

My daughter is nearly 19 months and the smallest size for this pattern is a 2T. The length leaves plenty of growing room and the legs are of a baggy style so although the sizing is a little premature, they look pretty good.

I really love the contrast print. The gnomes are so cute. The fabric is from Stenzo by the way. The solid blue is a quilting weight.

Now I have one bugbear about the fit and given that they are too big for her at the moment I wanted to try and correct it on my next pair. Can you see how they pull down at the back on this photo? It is because of her nappy bum and the rise doesn't seem as if it has got enough length to accommodate this. It is really noticeable as she moves about and they come down far too much for me.

So here is what I did to correct the rise on the pattern......

Starting with the standard pattern piece, pop a bit of paper behind the crotch area and grab a pencil and a ruler.

Measure a line straight out from the point at the crotch. I drew an inch line to see how that looked and then decided a half inch would be better. (Sorry, I drew in pencil so is a bit difficult to see).

Then I drew a line trying to copy the same angle as the original, tapering back towards the leg again. On these pants I managed to get the line to meet back on the leg just by the notch.

After sticking it all down I cut out the new line.

And voila a new longer rise! I will get around to drafting a new (less patched) pattern piece soon else the look of it will drive me mad.

This is my second modified pair and as you can see the waist sits higher up when she is gettng all wriggly and dooesn't pull down nearly as much.


I didn't use the contrast fabric on the bottom cuff as to be honest I don't really like the blue I have used and chose to keep the legs plain in the end. I still used a cuff, just cut out a couple of strips in the main fabric instead.

Now I never registered this the first time I made these, but the contrast piece at the end of the leg serves a double purpose. In the method you attach the cuff from the inside and fold to the outside to be topstitched. Like I say, I missed this the first time but you are meant to take the cuff up past the stitching line about 1/2" so that the length can be adjusted once your little one gets a bit taller. Just unpick, drop the cuff down a bit and you have extended the life of your pants. Clever eh?!

Now that I have adjusted the rise, I feel a bit better about making some more of these. They are a quick and simple sew and range from age 2T to 5T. There are plenty of clever things you could do with them as well and they don't use much fabric. 

I will be making some warm lined versions over the next week as it is sub zero at the moment. Brrr.....

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ice Cream Top for a Birthday Gift

Another birthday invite, another reason to be glad I sew! This is going to a little girl (obviously!) from my daughters school class. I was wondering whether to make a size 5 or a size 6 in this. Unsure as to which child was the one in question, I have listened hard to the names called out when dropping off at school and luckily managed to spot her. All I wanted was a quick glance to size up. My daughter is already in the 6 for most tops because she is tall for her age but I know that some people have normal sized children!

I did decide to make the 6 after all because it would be nice to get some summer wear out of this top so I decided to upsize.

I spent much longer in front of all my fabrics choosing than normal as I find it more intimidating choosing something for someone else. What if it isn't their style? Nervewracking!

But, fingers crossed, you can't go wrong with pink for a girl. I say this even though when I showed Boo what I was making, she commented " Laila likes purple!" (this is the sort of thing I could have been informed about beforehand...)

I decided to use a bartack stitch on the opening because it is the one area of the dress/top I feel is a weak spot. I haven't used a bartack before and this is far from my best work. A starting point a little further to the right might have been better but hey ho! It gives a good strong hold on the back opening and so it is better than it coming undone.

The button is one of my favorites because it comes all the way from the other side of the world! Nepal to be exact! My brother climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last Christmas and when they were all at the top the group photograph shows them all wearing locally made hats, each one a different animal. Darren was sporting a panda hat and this was button was once its nose. He gave it to his niece once he got back from his trip. Sadly the button fell off and I never got around to fixing it back on. So here it goes off on its travels once more.

Friday, 16 November 2012

241 Tote from Noodlehead

I have been pinning and favouriting a few versions of this bag recently to get a feel for how I wanted to proceed when I made one. I seem to prefer the ones with a patterned centre panel. Sadly for me I didn't have enough of one print to make it work so used some much treasured scraps on the exterior side pockets instead and made the rest from a medium weight denim.

 I bought the pattern last month and really liked how the instructions were written. The pattern is the 241 Tote from Anna at Noodlehead. There are a couple of variations you can make to the bag: leave off the small exterior pockets, or make a version with zip pockets on the main panel instead. I like the simplicity and detail of the small pockets, let me tell you, they are nice and deep and perfect for throwing your car keys or sunglasses. Looking at my finished bag I can tell I will use it a lot in the summer. It has a casual beachy vibe.

There is a roomy slip pocket inside (you could make one for the other side too if you wanted). The one thing I missed off the bag is the magnetic clasp. If I had one I would have used it, for some reason my eyes never saw it on the materials list! Doh!

The lining I used was a plain brown cotton, also used to line the small pockets. The Red Riding Hood fabric is from Kokka and is from the same half meter I bought to make the Sunday Brunch Skirt earlier this year.

I managed to get both pockets cut at exactly the same point in the pattern. This is one of those items where it looks great sewn up but as soon as you topstitch round the seams, it looks like a million dollars! Topstitching just does that sometimes and this is one of them!

I could have modelled it for you but why would I when I have someone far cuter to show you how it all works?!

When you are this small it is just a great bag for putting all your blocks in. Taking them out again. Putting all your blocks in..... you get the game.

Here are a few shots of my girl giving it the once over in all her crazy-post-naptime-hair glory.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Open Wide Zip Bag

Today things got the tiniest bit festive around here. It is nearly that time after all. We are so close to knocking on the first advent calendar door!

I have been looking for stocking filler ideas and after browsing a few pins and tutorials I went for this zip bag tutorial from Noodlehead. I like the idea of the wide opening and there were three different sizes to choose from so perfect for making a few sets of bags. Present idea!

I only have a few zips in stock and so had to match up the fabric with the zip as opposed to the other way round. I had a fat quarter of this gorgeous Robert Kaufman fabric from last year to use up. I cut out the measurements for the medium size bag as I had a 12" zipper.

This is a really quick project and so I had it all done in an hour. I had to keep nipping upstairs to the youngster who was adamant she was not having a morning nap, but I still managed to have it all sewn up in about an hours time.

The tutorial is really clear and easy to follow and there is a size chart for the other sizes and also directions for making constrast panels instead of one fabric. The method called for boxed corners and with the medium bag I needed to take off 4" in width. Way too much for my bag! I measured it out but felt sad to be losing so much of my fabric. I wanted more bag for my time so I only snipped off 3" width on each corner. I would even go for less next time. It is still a good size inside but I would like a bit more capacity so will scale that cut down.

The medium size would be a great handbag makeup supply size, or if you are crafty a good travel sewing stash kit. 

It has made me think I need to order a few more of those lovely FQ bundles that are out there. I worked out that I could get two of this medium size from one FQ. That is a pretty good stash buster!