Monday, November 30, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As soon as the weather turns warm I get all fired up to get crafty for Christmas. (Kind of Pavlovian I know). About two or three years ago I bought a kit for this hanging, "Making Spirits Bright" from the Birdhouse. I love stitcheries, but I do get a bit bored just doing back stitch in one colour, so I pull it out every now and then and work on it till I need to do something else. Consequently I've only just finished the stitchery! Yesterday I sewed on the borders from this very cool candy cane fabric I bought for it at the same time as the stitchery and today I added pellon and backing and tabs. I still need to do some sort of quilting and it's done!

In total contrast is this stocking. I bought American Patchwork and Quilting magazine last Thursday. I happily shelled out $18 for a magazine in which I only wanted one project and by Saturday I'd got to this point:

I love foundation piecing because it's so precise - it really appeals to the control freak in me! I love these warm Christmas colours. I'm making no promises that it'll be finished for this year's Christmas, since the piecing was what I was fired up over. (The top plain panel is slightly smaller because I have a little more to trim from the pieced panels.) I realised once I'd finished the toe section and lined it up with the middle section that I'd placed the gingerbread man on the wrong angle. Too bad - only way to fix it is to undo it and start again. Aint Gonna Happen.
One other comment to Mary Nanna and Katherine - I hope neither of you thought I sounded snippy about the by-line thing - I am very flattered that "my" line strikes a chord with so many people! I claim no rights to it, so feel free to spread it far and wide :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drafting for the World's Smallest Bum

I think I've mentioned before that Nicholas has the Smallest Bum In The World. It's not just because he was prem - Isabella is considerably more generously proportioned! Nicholas is just little - just like his elder brother (who is now taller than me). Anyway, making him clothes means that I can at least get things that fit him properly. Trousers are ok, but shorts are another matter. His skinny little legs look like matchsticks sticking out of shorts! The weather has been beautiful lately, and he needed longish shorts - he has short shorts, but needed some more substantial ones. So I skimmed in the sides of my size one trouser draft by *quite a lot* shortened it to shorts and added a cargo pocket to the sides.

And here they are - perfectly proportioned shorts for a Very Small Bum.

Isabella could use some too, but for her I have to add a little to the size one draft. If I hadn't been there at the time I wouldn't believe these two had come from the same stomach on the same day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I hate dial up

Once again the teenager (with probably some help from the rest of us) has exceeded our monthly broadband allowance, dropping us to dial up speed for a few days. How did we ever survive on dial up speed all the time?!

Anyway, that combined with not managing to get a pic of Georgia in her new skinny jeans meant I've been putting off posting. Oh, and the tummy bug working it's way through our family making various members throw up or have diarrhoea. Or both. With five kids it can take a while to work it's way out of the house, making me very grateful for the nice weather making washing easy to dry.

Today I figured I'd grit my teeth and brave slow internet to post.

First up is this skirt which I made for Georgia when she had her 10th birthday recently. Her grandmother took her to the Royal New Zealand Ballet performing Peter Pan, which she loved. About five minutes after Mum called to ask me if she'd like to go I realised that Georgia's wardrobe is very appropriate for climbing trees and rollerblading, but she had nothing suitable to wear to the ballet. So I made her this skirt. It's #16 from Ottobre 06/08. It only goes up to a size 128, but since Georgia is pretty slender I just added a little more to the length and it was perfect. Fabric from stash + pattern from a magazine I already owned = free skirt.

While I was getting the fabric for the skirt I found a piece of red stretch suiting perfect for skinny jeans for her (her favourite colour) and she found a left over piece of red and white knit perfect for a T shirt. She figured that since she was turning double digits, that meant double new outfits! Since I had time, I was happy to oblige so that she could have the jeans and t for her gingerbread man decorating morning tea with the neighbours (instant party) and a good outfit for the ballet in the afternoon. Left over fabrics + patterns I already owned = also free outfit! I also made her a tankini because I got the fabric very cheap at Spotlight. I don't like making swimwear, but I do like getting her a pair for less than $10. I did swear quite a lot (as Keely will attest, since I was on the phone to her at the time) at various times as my thread kept breaking and the hem just didn't want to get sewn. However, I realise that Georgia will neither notice nor care, so I just left the stops and starts where they occurred.

She still needs clothes for the summer, so I guess I'm not done with her yet. She is also very keen to have proper sewing lessons, like I give to my student. (She comes to my house for an hour every Saturday and we work through her project.) I figure I'll just do the same for Georgia. If she stays keen and gets good I could make her make her own togs!

I've also made a prototype of my own design for Isabella. Very much inspired by some beautiful tops I've seen on the net, starting with this one from the very lovely MADE blog. It and various other tutorials I've read include instructions that say things like: "I don't use patterns, just lay down a shirt that fits your child well and draw around it, leaving seam allowances". I am in awe of anyone who can work this way! I'm very much a pattern user. I play fast and loose with them and alter them and generally make them unrecognizable, but I Don't Cut Patternless. I like the precision of a pattern which I have calculated will produce the design in my head, and I have just enough scientific geekiness to like the concept of repeatability - if it works I can make it again, exactly as I did before. Having said that, I know the principles of draping, and have done it. (One side-ruched wedding dress for a friend of my sister comes to mind. Must find a photo of that)

Getting back to the point, I was tickled pink when Jess used my comment on Samster Mommy's pant refashion tute regarding my method for drawstrings. So I thought I'd take a couple of pics of how it works.

I like the idea of a ribbon tie on Isabella's top, but I wanted elastic in it so I could pull it on and off without undoing it. So I cut a piece of elastic roughly half the size of the finished neck measurement and sewed ribbon to the ends of it, like this:

When that's threaded through the neckline casing I stitch through all layers at centre front to hold it in place. That way the ends are always even and the drawstring never falls out. If the stitching is obvious you can sew a button or flower or anything you fancy over it, but when the neckline gathers up I couldn't even see it, so I didn't bother. Yet.

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to get a modelled shot of anything on either of the twins? Yes? Well every time I try I'm reminded of that! I ended up getting her big brother to hold her while I snapped.

I'm very pleased with the basic workings of this top, but I think the armhole ends up too low. I used the raglan draft from my Aldrich book, and I think for this design the proportions are a bit off. No fault with her draft, just my use of it. I'll rework it so the armhole is higher, then slash and spread to add the gathering. The joy of patternmaking - I know exactly what I did last time, so I can use that as a starting point for the next one. This one was always intended to be a prototype for my own design, but wearable for Isabella because I hate making prototypes - really feels like a waste of my sewing time to produce something that won't get worn.

Repeatability folks, gotta love it. (Well, I'm pretty anal, so I love it!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Clipping collar corners

This is probably something that many people know, but I wish someone had told me when I started! So for anyone who might find it useful, here's my quick technique for clipping collar points on non-right angled corners.

Firstly I fold in the seam allowances on one side like this:

I fold them in tightly and crease them so the excess sticks up straight. Then I lay my scissors flat on the table and cut across the sticking-up bit:

That leaves you with a nicely mitred corner:

(It usually leaves a a little too much fabric at the point, which you then trim off in the next step.)

Then you just trim the second side to match, shaving a tiny bit extra at the point, and you're done. When the collar is pressed (which is a million times easier if you have a point presser) and turned through it should sit perfectly smooth and flat. Easy to do and never fails!

This collar is on this shirt. I cut this one out ages ago, but never sewed it up because I was a bit iffy about the proper two piece collar. And of course once I made it up I really liked it. The collar IS pretty snug. It does go around Nicholas' neck, but there's not a lot of room! I suspect it'll be worn open anyway, but I really like the look of the two piece collar so I think I'll enlarge the neck opening and draft a bigger collar.

I had to go into Miracle today (I get my flushable nappy liners there, so I'm in there fairly often!) so I dropped off my latest creations and asked Harriet (one of the lovely ladies who works there - owns the shop I think) what she thought of the pink top I made to go under the pale tunic and whether she thought my other idea of the white top would have been better. She liked the pink, so there you go. Judging by the choice of stock in the store I trust their judgement. She said that there had been comments on my stuff, but no sales yet. (Which doesn't surprise me - I'd have been stunned if anything had sold this fast!) My stuff is in it's own little alcove on white wooden hangers and it gave me a real kick to see it hanging there all cute and nicely displayed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pink flowers for spring

We've had some lovely spring weather lately, and the nice ladies in Miracle said that girls dresses sell well. (And commented more than once on loving the previous bubble dress I'd made) so yesterday during the twins' nap time I made this one.

It's the same pattern as the one at the bottom of this post, which I had graded up and was made by Georgia and two of the neighbours for Isabella, shown here. Predictably Georgia wants to keep this one for Isabella. I'd better make one for her just to get Georgia off my back!

Before I made that one I made this little top to go under the historic inspired tunic. I was a bit iffy about the relatively brighter pink, but it lifted and brightened the very muted tunic, so I've stuck with it.

The very simple applique/embroidery is done the same way as in this post. It is very hard to tell in this photo, but the applique is two layers. Soft white linen under the pale pink from the tunic. They are too similar though to have the impact of a contrasting border.
The twisted ruffle at the hem is also the same fabric as the tunic, cut from the selvedge so there wasn't any embroidery on it.

And here's the top under the tunic. When I first envisioned the tunic I saw it with a white linen shift dress under it, and capris from the embroidered fabric, but the practical Mum in me kept thinking - how many Mums are going to dress their little girl in something so PALE!? I still think that for a wedding or special occasion it'd be a beautiful outfit as I pictured it, but for more use a cotton top would be more practical, and I can see this with jeans as a more casual outfit.
Maybe I shouldn't second guess myself so much and just go with my original vision? I always intended to aim at the upper end of the market.