Thursday, April 30, 2009

My substitute model

Georgia kindly offered to model Isabella's new jeans and Nicholas' jean jacket. The girl is a world class ham! I was stunned that she could get her feet into the jeans, never mind get her hands through the jacket cuffs!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Corduroy jean jacket for Nicholas

I actually made this jacket a couple (or four) weeks ago, and it sat on my desk waiting for the domes. I couldn't put them in because my dome setting thing-y was at my parent's place, having been used to attach domes to the boat cover I'm making for Dad's boat. I FINALLY remembered to get it when we went there for lunch last week. (Along with my sister. Between us we had six kids with us - kind of like how it was growing up, only this time my parents got to send all the kids home!)

Anyway, being the procrastinator that I am, I only got around to setting the domes today while the twins were napping. I don't think they'd have liked the hammering.

The jacket fabric is a nice thick textured corduroy with a heavy cotton lining. It'll be warm enough for most of our outings, since I wrap snug blankets over the twins in their buggy when it's really cold. The pattern is from the Burda Baby Boutique magazine from autumn/winter 1992. (Given that I had my first child in 1993 I think I must have got it either when I was first pregnant or as an old issue from somewhere!) I'm not sure exactly when this magazine stopped being published, but I think it was mid nineties.) It's design #320, and came in sizes 68-80-92. This one is a size 68 (Nicholas isn't very big). Over the years I've also graded it to a 62 and a 104, and it's been much commented upon when my boys have worn them. So, like my old Topkids magazines, I will likewise never get rid of my old Burda Baby Boutique magazines.

It's great to reduce the "to do" pile. So of course I immediately added another item to it - I cut a jersey for Isabella from the same fabric as Nicholas' one from yesterday. It's a totally different style, but I'm still mulling over how to girlify it and really distinguish it from his. I don't like them to look like they match. And there are two pairs of corduroy jeans on the pile too. Isabella's need one more line of topstitching around the hems and waist. (I ran out, but wanted to get one line of each done to see how it'd look.) Nicholas' are cut out, but I need to buy topstitching thread before I can start. I'm off to the Multiple Birth Club play group tomorrow, so I can whip into Anne's before I go. (HA! - who am I kidding - nobody with small twins just "whips into" anywhere!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Appliqued baby jersery

As much as I'm enjoying making the coat, I felt the need for a bit of instant gratification. Nicholas needed a new jersey (in New Zealand a "jersey" is a sweater) because - well, because I wanted to make him one. I used my favourite modified Ottobre pattern, and decided to add a bit of interest to the front. The applique design is from Ottobre 06/07. I just thought it was cute.

I did the applique very simply. First I basted a scrap piece of cotton velour onto the front of the jersey.
Then I traced the design onto a piece of Glad Press'n'seal and pressed it over the velour. It works as a stabiliser as well as marking the design. It holds in place without any shifting, and can be removed easily without leaving any residue.

Then I satin stitched over the outline.

Then I pulled out the press'n'seal and very carefully cut away the excess velour. I wanted the slightly fuzzy outline, so this method suited. For a clean satin stitched edge I'd have done a wider zigzag, pulled out the plastic and cut off the excess, then done a closer spaced zig zag.

It didn't take long to do the applique, and constructing the jersey itself took less than an hour. (My coffee didn't even get cold.) Not bad for instant gratification. I have more of the fabric, so I'll have to think of something girly to make for Isabella.

Looking like a coat!

Wow - minus the collar, we have a coat!

If you click on the picture you get a bigger image, which shows the details a little better.

I knew from my tissue fit that this would fit me pretty well, but this is one of those patterns you NEED to either carefully tissue fit, or try as a muslin first. If the angle of the shoulder line does not match you, it'll be nearly impossible to rectify, as there is very little wiggle room in the design for tweaks after you cut it out.

The sleeves are fairly narrow on this. Again, I knew from my tissue fit that they'd be ok on me. I won't be able to wear anything too bulky under it, but I wasn't planning to anyway. I added length to them before cutting, as I have fairly long arms and it's a whole lot easier to cut off excess than figure out a way to make them longer!

Construction wise, this is pretty straightforward. The instructions are clear, and apart from one or two very minor changes of order I have followed them so far. In my opinion, this isn't terribly complicated to construct.

AMEW did appear a bit. I began by ignoring the instructions and sewing the fronts so that I could do the welt pockets first before the coat got too bulky. (That's one of my changes of order - the instructions have you do them way further on.) Then I read the instructions and discovered that instead of being pressed open, the seam was supposed to be sewn in one pass with the undersleeve, and topstitched to one side. Oops. They were also supposed to be single welt pockets, and I just blithely went and made double welt pockets! Oops again! I decided against trying to do the topstitching after the fact - there's no way I could make it look nice at the pocket edges. The one thing I am annoyed with myself for is pocket placement. The pattern is for a jacket. I made it into a coat. At what point do you think it occurred to me that the pockets should have been placed about 10-15cm lower - coat height rather than jacket height? Yep - after I'd made them and held the coat front up to myself. DOH! Having them at this height throws off the visual balance a bit to my eye, but there's not a lot I can do about it. I am not making more pockets lower down!

Next up, I'll be making the collar and attaching it. The instructions have you fold the edge and zig zag, but I don't fancy that, so I'll double fold and straight stitch.

Hopefully I can get more fabric for the front facings either tomorrow or Thursday. And some buttons. The shop I got the fabric at (Anne's Fabrics in Dunedin) has very cool buttons, so I'm hoping I can get something there.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Finished embroidery, and pockets.

I've finally done some more work on my coat. I really need to spend a bit of time working out how to take better pictures though - these are not nearly as sharp as I'd like. Here's the embroidery after I'd finished it, before I tore out all the press'n'seal. That's not difficult, but it takes a while!

And here's what it looks like after I tore out the press'n'seal. I like how it looks. It'll pep up a solid coloured coat, but it's fairly subtle.

Then I decided that instead of the interlining I'd originally planned, I should have underlined. I know there's debate about the difference between those terms, but I've always gone with what I was taught at University. Underlining is a separate layer of fabric attached to each piece of a garment before construction, the unit thereafter treated as a single layer. Interlining is a separate layer between fashion fabric and lining - like batting in a quilt. There was No Way I was going to start that embroidery again, so I joined the underlining part way, and then joined it to each piece of the front, like this:
It works fine, but underlining before I'd embroidered would have been a whole lot smarter. (Have I mentioned that I shouldn't be let loose on anything requiring Any Mental Effort Whatsoever?)

Next up were the welt pockets in the fronts. I hate the way patterns have you do welt pockets, so I always use a method I think I first saw in an article in Threads written possibly by the fabulous Ann Steeves . My very humble apologies if I'm wrong about that. Anyway, you create a faced opening, and sew the welts behind it.
First I cut a rectangle of fabric ( she has you use silk organza, but in my neck of the woods that is neither readily available, nor inexpensive) and traced the pocket opening onto it. I positioned that over the (threadmarked) pocket placement, and sewed around it. Then I cut the opening, turned it through and pressed. After that, It looks like this:

It looks like this from the back:

Then I sewed the basted together welts behind the opening. The extra layer of fabric gives you a much more stable edge to sew them to, and gives far fewer headaches!
Here they are:

All I need to do now to finish the pockets is to attach the pocket bags. I'll also catch stitch the facing to the underlining, as that will help to support the pocket.
I was starting to think that this coat didn't want to be sewn - the washing machine packing a sad when I wanted to preshrink my underlining was a hint. Then when I was working on the coat last night I realised that I hadn't cut front facings. For some reason the facing pattern pieces had got put with the lining pattern pieces and missed. And there is not enough fabric to cut them. After a bit of swearing I figured that if I really have to I could cut the facings from lining (if I underline the heck out of it), since the collar is so wide that the facing is a way back from the front edge. However, I'm going to see if I can get more fabric next time I go to town. And then when I went to sew the centre fronts to the side fronts I realised that after spending AGES threadmarking all the dots and match points, I had missed the very first one I actually needed! It's the AMEW thing again. I'm doing a lot better on the sewing than the thinking.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

@#$%^!!!!!! Appliances!

This has nothing to do with sewing (hang on, it kind of does) but I have to vent! My @#$$%^ washing machine has packed a sad - only a couple of weeks after we got the @#$%^ thing fixed! We haven't even got the bill yet! (I know it's a new problem, because it kindly tells us it's a "code 131" - last time was a "code 43" and last time it was the out of balance switch, this time it won't spin) It has a load of nappies in it which it refuses to spin. And I wanted to pre-shrink the wincyette interlining for my Miyake coat next! (So it is kind of a sewing related rant). We have a borrowed machine which we used while our own was out of action last time, but I can't disconnect the hose from our machine to hook up the other one since DH did it up so tightly! So I have to wait till he comes home for lunch and rescues me. I really hate being dependent on someone else because my wrists are too feeble to undo a hose >:-(

And I finished the embroidery on the coat last night. Sigh.....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jeans for the girls

After my issues with sewing things requiring Any Mental Effort Whatsoever, I figured jeans are definitely safe - if I had a dollar for every pair of kids jeans I've sewn I'd be able to afford a night nurse for the twins for a start! Anyway, here's another pair of Ottobre 06/07, #32 for Georgia. They don't go with her T shirt AT ALL, but I wanted a photo of Isabella in her new jeans and Georgia wanted in on the action. These ones are made from a lovely soft baby cord which I've had long enough that had I not made this size for Georgia, I couldn't have made a bigger one.

This pair is based on Ottobre 04/08, #2. I "jeans-ified" them in exactly the same way as I did Nicholas' recently. The fabric for these was a remnant of denim inherited from Keely a few years ago. Again, if I hadn't made this size I wouldn't have got a bigger size out of the piece I had.

And the back view. I think the rear pockets are too small. For her next pair I'll make them just a smidge bigger. The proportions look a little off to me.

And here are the girls wearing their jeans. Isabella's fit her fine, but with non-stretch denim she could perhaps do with more butt-room. (She wears cloth nappies). Next time I'll add a little width and height to the bum if I use non-stretch fabric.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Exhaustion+sewing=dodgy measuring

She really doesn't look like the kind of baby who demands to be nursed four or five times a night does she? (After sleeping through the night for several months!)

Between her, and Nicholas waking a couple of times as well, sleep is not going well for me at the moment. So I should know better than to tackle anything that requires Any Mental Effort Whatsoever.

I figured this pinafore should be fine - even a half asleep zombie could make this, right? It's from Topkids 44, #9. It's a size 74, which I figured should fit Isabella pretty well. The photo in the magazine looked very short, so I compared the pattern pieces to the last dress I made her. This one was WAY shorter. This is where the mental effort comes in. I didn't allow for the fact that the pinafore has straps - DUH! I also didn't take note of how much wider it is than her existing dress, which fits her beautifully. End result: a very cute pinafore, which I really like, which will fit her till she's about three. It's not a disaster, but not what I was hoping for!

Lesson learnt - don't sew if you can't think.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Progress on the Miyake coat

It started as this - a large pile of traced and lengthened pattern pieces.

From that point I cut it out and spent ages thread marking all the dots, triangles, buttonholes and the welt pockets. I colour coded the markings so that they'll be (hopefully) clearer when I come to construct the coat. Didn't take a pic of that step. Then I did a bit of experimenting to work out how I'm going to embellish the coat. I got a rose motif from BWOF 01/09, and for my trial just traced a leaf from it onto Glad Press'n'Seal and stuck it onto a scrap of fabric and stitched through it. I love how this technique works - it stabilises the fabric really well, and is easy to do. Picking out the plastic can be a bit tedious, but the design is very accurately marked, and no hint is left on the garment afterwards. A pair of tweezers helps.

These are the two threads I tried. I wish my photos were clearer - they look fine on my computer, but lose a lot of clarity when I post them. The one on the left does actually show up fine, but I liked the bolder effect of the sample on the right. It's actually crochet cotton, split into two of the six strands. It gets fuzzy pretty quickly, so I need to use short lengths.

And this is how it'll look when I'm done. This is only on the lower edge of the right front. I was going to do both fronts, but I think I'll leave it just on one side. I think all along the front might be a bit busy.

At least I'll have plenty to do while I digest my easter chocolate.

Babies are hard to photograph!

I tried really hard to photograph Nicholas in the latest version of his modified Ottobre jeans. (I see on their blog that the next magazine has jeans in it - can't wait!). The boy just won't stay still! So this is the best I could do. At least it's a good picture of how the back looks. They're made from babycord, topstitched in navy. Since he's a crawler, these are mostly going to be "out in the buggy" pants. To be worn when I want him to look presentable.

Isabella is easier to photograph but she's now a crawler too, so this isn't the best shot of her new pants. They're from Ottobre 04/08, #2. I traced this one from Keely and only traced a size 62. Naturally I didn't get to it as soon as I meant to, and had to make them longer. I did that by drawing a line perpendicular to the grainline at the narrowest point of the leg (they're flared pants) and adding 2cm extra length at that point. It's enough, but I added 5cm for another pair to give more growing room. They fit beautifully, so I think I'll make her a bunch more - even with the trim at the hem they're incredibly quick to make, and look very cute on their own or with a dress.

Friday, April 3, 2009

More quick sewing

The Miyake coat is all cut out and I've done all the thread marking. But that'll be another post. In the meantime I made this dress for Isabella. It's Ottobre 06/08, #9. Since she's not the chubbiest baby on the block, I just made her a size 62 and lengthened it.

It's handy having a big sister to hold you up to show off your new dress. Isabella will smile at anyone, and is already showing a fondness for smiling for the camera. Have I created a monster?

This is where I got the fabric. Several years ago Keely and I got a couple of these dresses just for the fabric - a lovely soft, lightweight, beautifully coloured denim. They were selling them for something like $2 each - how could we resist? I made baby pants and a dress from another one at the time, and this one has been languishing in the stash till now. I should have taken a picture before I cut it up, but didn't think of it in time, so here it is after I butchered it. I saved the decorative label from the dress and sewed it on the skirt of the new dress. I'm not sure whether the leftover bits of dress are worth saving or not. What can I make from this much denim? Panelled pants or a skirt maybe?

And I made this skirt for me. It's BWOF 03/09, #105. I really liked the style of this one when I saw it in the magazine, and bought the fabric especially for it. (Nothing in the stash appealed. Imagine that!) It's a suiting fabric called "Jacqui" from Spotlight, and works really well for this design. I like the way the skirt sits. It has fullness, but because it's all done by the three very large pleats, there's no added bulk around the bum, which I seriously don't need! I wore it yesterday, and I'm really pleased with it.

I thought about piping the edges of the pockets, but I was too tired the day I sewed this to be bothered hunting out piping cord and fabric. Next time however......