Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next up - a Miyake!

I love wandering into a fabric shop and discovering that Vogues are buy one get two free! I've been really fancying a more challenging project after all the quick and easy kids projects I've been making recently, and this one (V1052) fit the bill. I can justify a new coat! And I love Issey Miyake.

I am going to lengthen it to about knee length, and I'm considering interlining it with wincyette (flannelette - the fluffy stuff you make kids pjs with) as well as lining it. A nice bit of extra warmth, without too much bulk. After having a good read through the (very comprehensive) instructions I realized that while this one does have some very interesting construction, it is not nearly as origami -like as some of his designs. (Pity - I LOVE the challenge of his really complicated designs!)

I'm anticipating needing quite a number of naps to get this one made - today's afternoon nap (plus a bit over) was spent tracing the pattern and adding length to the pieces (there are 15, and the only ones not needing length are the two collar pieces and the tie!). Tomorrow I'll do some more accurate measuring and try to finish all the pattern adjustments. (I'm not sure how much extra hip width I need yet, so I haven't even cut my pattern out.) If I'm really lucky, I'll get to tissue fit. I may need to do a little shaping around the waist too. There is a bit of shaping there, but I'm not sure if it'll be enough. On a longer coat I think the waist looks better if it's a bit more defined. Thank goodness I have a dress form to try it out on!

I bought some red "proofed cotton" for this one, which has a nice body to it. You can't beat a bright cheerful coat for drab winter days. You never know, I might even get a bit more creative on this one yet. There was a very cool design for embroidered roses (for a cushion) in a recent BWOF. Maybe I could do some around the hem, in the same colour for a subtle(ish) textural interest? Maybe a contrasting colour, like charcoal grey for a real pop?
Maybe I should just get on with it so I can wear it before next summer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I will never throw away my Topkids magazines.

I started buying Topkids magazines before I even had kids. (I made some things for my bosses' grandkids). Then when I did have kids, I bought them regularly. I have used those magazines so much over the last 15 years! Their styles were fashion forward, but quick and easy to sew. (I believe they were largely a reprint of Knipmode). Several years ago they stopped publishing. But I will never throw the old magazines away. Despite some of the styles looking SERIOUSLY outdated now there are still some gems to be had. Like this dress:

I first made it for my now nine year old daughter when she was about two. The magazine is issue 21, which I am fairly sure is one I bought before I had my first child (and he's now 15!) I loved this dress, and had to wait years to make it, and it's still a wearable design now.

One drawback to Topkids, in particular the older issues, is that they had much more limited sizes available. This dress was only available in sizes 74 and 86. It's not hard to use those sizes to grade if they're printed together as these were, but in some issues the sizes were printed totally separately on the pattern sheets, making a simple size grade a much harder proposition. Ottobre has a MUCH wider range of sizes, and they go in 6cm height increments, not the 12cm that this pattern has. Later issues of Topkids usually had each pattern in three sizes, and the smaller sizes were more often only 6cm apart.

The good thing about having made this dress before is that I knew from past experience that it's short and wide (as a lot of styles were at that time) so I graded this to a 62 (Isabella is about 68cm tall) and added length to bodice, sleeves and skirt, judged by comparing the pattern to clothes and patterns that fit her well. The fabric is yet another piece from Keely's stash. I'm sure I'm reducing her stash faster than she is! Thanks Keely :-) Nicholas has jeans made from it too. I think they might look a bit too "twinny" if they wear them at the same time, so I'll have to watch out for that.

Here it is on her. I hadn't realised till I saw it on her how well it brings out her beautiful blue eyes. Lets just pretend I planned that shall we? Thanks

And here she is refusing to sit down. Which at least shows the length and proportions of the dress quite well!

So that is why I will never throw away my old Topkids magazines. They're stored in a box in our roof, with the "all styles at a glance" pages photocopied and kept in a binder near my sewing desk. By the time I have grandkids these patterns will hopefully be highly sought after vintage items!


I love mint M&Ms. I really, really love them, (I even love the hot chick M&M in her kick-a** boots on the packaging!) but sadly they're no longer available in New Zealand for some unfathomable reason. Keely and I cleaned out every supermarket in town when we realised that they were going, and stocked up when Kmart had some last Christmas, but devastatingly all our sources eventually dried up. The only way to get them is to beg friends and family visiting Australia to get some.

DH went to the Melbourne Airshow last week. I love DH. I really, really love DH, so I didn't ask him to get me ANYTHING sewing related. All I wanted was a small supply of mint M&Ms. He brought back four packets. (Several dozen would have been better, but he had a bit of trouble finding them and four is better than none!) I want to enjoy them for as long as possible, so have imposed a restriction on myself - I will only eat them while sewing.

It's amazing how that motivates me to sew when I'm feeling tired and unenthusiastic after several badly interrupted nights thanks to twins who tag team their night waking!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Messing with Ottobre (again)

I Really Really Really like the Ottobre nursing top I made. I knew I'd be making it again, and here it is in the fabric I wanted to use if the first one worked out well.

It's a printed mesh with an underlayer of a heavy, drapey knit - not sure what it is. I decided to eliminate the bands, as with this fabric they'd be lost at best, and look patchy at worst. The back and lower front pieces are cut as one piece (each, naturally), which I acheived simply by overlapping the pieces on the fabric as I cut. They don't line up perfectly (there is some shaping there), so I just cut a "line of best fit" to join them up. I also lengthened the sleeves since we're heading into winter here. The sleeves are only mesh, but if I wear this top with a layer over it I'll be warm enough. The underlayer with the nursing access I left plain red because I thought that more mesh would look a bit busy, and this played up the lines of the top better.

I'm really pleased with how this turned out - now to dream up version #3! I'm thinking maybe another print with contrasting plain bands and neckline binding?

I also messed with Ottobre 01/06, #2 to make this sweatshirt/jacket for Isabella.

Here she is in her best model pose - she doesn't look like a baby who kept her mother up half the night for no discernible reason does she?

Since I was making it from polar fleece, I felt that gathering the hem band would just be bulky at the gathering line, so I decided to add flare instead. I did that by very simply adding width to the bottom of the pattern piece for the side front, and skimming in the side seams at the waist. I then added the same details to the back piece, because I prefer garments to have construction details on the front and back, not just the front. I also tapered the sleeves towards the wrist to avoid a lot of bulk, which is difficult to fit under another layer in the cold weather. Finally, I made it a jacket instead of a sweatshirt by adding seam allowances to the centre front instead of cutting it on a fold.

And here it is without her in it, showing the design lines better. (I know the sleeves are not evenly folded. One is out of the way of the side seam to show the shaping, and the other is carefully hiding a bit of weetbix which didn't quite make it to her mouth this morning!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Major headswell

I was in town today, wearing my beloved wool cashmere coat which I made a couple of years ago. I did the beading myself, and did a LOT of hand sewing on it - this was a major project, and I really took my time on it.

Pretty awful picture - I think I had a cold when it was taken!

Anyway, today I wandered into a shop that sells beautiful high end baby wares, only to be FOLLOWED IN by a lady specifically to admire my coat! She asked where I got it, and I have to admit a major swell of pride as I told her I'd made it myself, and yes, I did the beading myself too. I never quite know what to say when I get that kind of reaction from total strangers to things I've made. I feel great pride, but also a bit of embarrassment, as though admitting that I made it myself is somehow showing off. I like to think that I feel humble pride. How's that?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wish she didn't need it......

......But sadly, she does. It's been cold and wet and windy lately, so I decided to make Isabella this coat. She has a lovely warm knitted one, but I loved this pattern (Ottobre 06/08, #7) and found this lovely furry fabric and buttons in Spotlight. Therefore, I reasoned, Isabella NEEDED a coat!

Here she is wearing it. It is very hard to photograph a baby in a way that shows the garment well! She was much more interested in playing with the plastic coat hanger I'd removed for the photos, and this was the best I could do before she lost the plot! The collar sits out a bit when she's wearing it, but I think will settle down once she's worn it once or twice.

Here's what it looks like without her in it. I made one or two minor changes from the pattern. I made the bodice section 2cm longer, because I thought it might look a bit bulky if the fullness began at her armpit, and I put buttons down the whole front so that it stays closed over her tummy (and because I had four buttons, and I really like them). I also made the lining in one piece so it's less bulky.

It's hard to tell in the photo, but to make the lining sit nicely I sewed it to the armhole seam of the outer shell of the coat. This makes the sleeves sit better, and stops the lining shifting around. In my own coat I sewed the lining of the body to the seam, then slip stitched the sleeve linings on by hand, but this is a baby coat. I want her to spend more time wearing it than I spent making it!

This rather fuzzy photo is how I drafted the lining piece. The dotted lines are the original cutting lines and the solid line the new cutting line. I did have to trim a chunk off the bottom when I sewed it in, but quite a bit of that was due to the bulk of the fabric.

It took me a couple of days worth of naps to make this, but most of that was due to thinking about how best to make the changes I wanted to make.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nursing opening

This is how the nursing opening works on the Ottobre top:

This is what it looks like on the inside. The curved princess seams are actually the finished edges of the underlay.

And from the right side, this is how it works - you just pull aside the overlay and underlay to expose as much as you need to feed baby. It's easy to operate one handed and I found it stays securely closed during daily wear, and nicely out of the way while feeding.
Ottobre have come up with a real winner in this design!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally, sewing for ME!

It seems like forever since I made anything for myself! I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Keely's Ottobre womens mag for this pattern, in the hopes that it would be good - I love my Jalie nursing tops, but after nine months of them, I'm ready for a change!

This looked promising - I liked the style, the nursing access looked practical, and the pattern has plenty of potential for customizing. So I made a trial to test it out - this fabric is some of a roll I bought for b***** all a while ago. I already have two tops made from it, and used it for a top for my sister as well. If this top was wearable, great, but no heartbreak if not. Naturally I was hoping for wearable - I hate investing time into something I'm not going to wear, even though I KNOW muslins are incredibly useful.

So yesterday's nap time (and some non-nap time) was dedicated to sewing this together. I made a straight size 40 (closest to my current measurements), and apart from shortening it by about 2cm, didn't alter it at all. And to my delight - it's GREAT! I have it on now, so I can say with confidence that the nursing access is as practical as I'd hoped, and the top is comfy and fits well. I'll do a proper review on Pattern Review next nap time.

I heard that someone has made this as a dress, and I really fancy that idea too. I breastfeed *a lot*, so anything that makes it easy is well worth spending time and money on!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One nap at a time

I have taken to utilising the twins' nap times to get as much sewing done as possible. I find it's amazing how much I can accomplish in one 1 1/2 - 2 hour block of UNINTERRUPTED time! The past couple of days have produced these - leggings are Ottobre 06/08, #2. I made Isabella a size 68, lengthened by 2cm. She is just under 68cm tall, and these have a nice amount of growing room in them. I cut the fabric across the grain because I only had a very short remnant to work with. Great idea, furnished by Keely.

The jacket is Ottobre 06/08, #4. I made this an unaltered size 68, and again it has a nice amount of growing room in it without being huge. Have I ever mentioned that I am totally in love with Ottobre?

Isabella has a habit of returning bits of her meals, making her a bit messy at times. So for that reason, and to make it warmer, I made this reversible. I used two layers of the same fabric because I didn't have another one which co-ordinated nicely, and because I figured that if she makes a mess of one side I can turn it inside out to look tidy if needed, and it'll still match whatever else she's wearing!

I was very lazy about stabilising the neckline, and the back stretched out as I sewed and ended up a bit wide, so took a very lazy way out and made a tuck in the finished neckline. It's a baby garment. Hopefully the couture police won't catch me! Problem solved.

And here she is wearing them, at the beginning of the day, before she got breakfast on it. And lunch. And shortly, probably tea.

Next up is the nursing top from the Ottobre woman's magazine! I love my Jalie nursing tops (I have five, and they're all I've worn since I had the twins), but I'm ready to try a different style! I have it cut out, and it's head of the queue for tomorrow's nap......

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Big and little

G is still young enough to think that having a matching top with her baby sister would be really cool! So when I found this fabric at Spotlight on Friday I knew it'd be perfect - not too babyish for a nine year old, with a small enough scaled print to suit a baby, and colours to suit both their wardrobes. G's t shirt is from Ottobre 01/06, #17. I made her a 134, which is about a size bigger than she needs, to give her some growing room. I's bodysuit is Ottobre 01/06, #4. (The same one I altered from my previous post.) It only took an afternoon to make both tops, including pre-shrinking the fabric. (Sewing is a lot easier in the weekend when half the neighbourhood comes over to play with the twins. I highly recommend living in a neighbourhood full of lovely girls about G's age.)