Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Still sewing, no photos

I've been sewing quite a bit lately, but still can't post photos till our computer is brought back to full operating capacity in a week or two. So, for my own entertainment I thought I'd post links to what I've been making!

For me I made V1061 . It took ALL DAY on Friday to assemble the back. I cut it out on Thursday and when when I went to start sewing on Friday I discovered that I had no matching thread. I debated waiting till I could make a dash to Spotlight without the twins, but that would have meant waiting till Saturday afternoon, so I decided to go. I swear by the time I'd got them both into coats, hats, sheepskin booties and carseats, and loaded carseats and buggy into the car I could have driven there and back and been sewing! Anyway, SL had rather bare thread racks, and after further internal debate I figured that I was already out so I might as well carry on into town and get the d***ed thread! Which I did. Got home just in time to put the twins down for their nap. Perfect! I did a few experiments to determine the best way to do the back seams and discovered that the best way to prevent them rippling when I did the zig zag topstitching was to stick on strips of Press'n'seal, pin and sew through it. (Phew - need to stop for a breath after that sentence!) That's fine, but pulling it out afterwards is a total PITA! Worth it for the nice result, but it took the rest of the day (around feeding, changing nappies, cooking meals, changing more nappies, washing said nappies.... you get the idea!) to finish all seven seams. Then all of Saturday to finish the jacket. It fits fine, but I could have gone down a size, and the bust point is about 5cm too high. Naturally I'd overlocked the darts before I discovered this. I've never had this problem before, so didn't check! There aint a Wonderbra engineered that's going to get the girls into position for THESE darts! The fabric is dark, and it isn't too obvious, so I can live with them. Next time.....

For Georgia, I made Jalie 2795 which I really like (and so does she). I love the unusual hood, and the close fit. I did at least take photos of this before the camera batteries died (note to self: GET NEW RECHARGABLES!). I also made her Jalie 2788 because she was dying for a twist top after I kept making them for me. As far as I've seen, the Jalie pattern is the only one which is available in children's sizes. I love the fact that it has a modesty panel - my nine year old does NOT need to show cleavage, thank you very much! Since it's winter I raised the back neckline and lengthened the sleeves to wrist length. She had approved the fabrics chosen from my stash (we decided on a contrasting fabric for the modesty panel) and knew I'd cut it and begun sewing, but I finished it last night after she went to bed. I left it out for her to wear today. Yes I'm Mum of the Year this week!

Next up pants for me. I'm going to make them tight because I finally decided to ditch the baby fat. I've had it for a year, and I'm sick of it. So far I'm down 4kg. I'm not going to tell my very observant husband. (He doesn't read this!) I want to see how much it takes before he notices.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm going to be a bit quiet for a week or two

Who started talking about dying appliances? Our computer died at the weekend. David's good friend is a computer expert and very kindly took a fair bit of time to do some surgery. (He's trying to fit six months of development work into one month. I'm incredibly grateful that he took several hours out!) Turns out one of our two hard drives (the one with all our stuff on it) has expired. He put windows onto our other one, and some of our stuff, but until we buy a new hard drive he didn't have room to try and resurrect the other stuff. Almost all of our photos are ok (after 5 years, we only backed them up onto discs a few weeks ago!) but some are still missing - everything since the back-up oddly. If they are irretrievable we'll lose all the pics of the twins' birthday except the one I posted here, and all others since, but that's not as bad as losing EVERY PHOTO since 2004! Also all the pics from my Mum which I scanned are currently on the dead hard drive. Worst case scenario I have to rescan them. I did find the disc for the scanner software when I was hunting for the windows disc though, so that'd be easier.

Anyway, to cut this long ramble short, our computer is currently working, but the hard drive we're using is chock-full. I can't re-install the camera software, and I can't upload any photos from camera to computer till we get a new hard drive. Since I like photos with my posts, that means probably not a whole lot of posting till we're back at full capacity. On the plus side, I'm getting a fair bit of sewing done, and I'll have lots to post when I can!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I love old photos

I took the twins to visit my parents today, and while was there Mum showed me some photos her sister had sent her recently. They showed the family on holiday at the beach, on holiday in a rented boat , visiting Mum at boarding school, and even a couple of Mum at about a year of age! Most of them were TINY - about 4cm by 6cm, but utterly fascinating. I borrowed them and as soon as I got home and put the twins down for a nap I spent two hours scanning them into my computer. I couldn't find the software that goes with our scanner, but Adobe worked ok and to my delight the pictures were viewable at a decent size. (That's why it took two hours - figuring out how to optimize scanning took a while).

So anyway, here's my Mum and her younger sister in (I think) Swannage (no idea how to spell that, have to check with Mum) in England. Mum looks about 12-13, so it'd be about 1947/8. See all the post war revellers at the beach?

I loved this photo as soon as I saw it, because it's the only photo I've ever seen of my Mum where I thought - gosh I look like her! This could be me at the same age. I like the feeling of connection to my history.

Which brings me to a story my Dad told me today. According to his Mum, their family is descended via John of Gaunt from Richard the Lionheart! True or not, what a fantastic thing to be able to claim!

Next time I see Mum she has more old photos, including her parents' wedding photo. Can't WAIT to see that one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finished baby jean jacket

And this is how the collar from my previous post looks attached to the jacket. The light is better on the jacket's left side, but you get the idea - no pointy collar points. The difference in size between under collar and upper collar isn't big - just enough that the upper collar fits over the under collar smoothly.

The topstitching tends to sink into the corduroy's nap and can look distorted in places, but it is actually pretty straight. I'm kind of anal about my topstitching. If I can see slightly wonky topstitching, it comes out. And I LOOK!

No snow today. Just a soggy back yard.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snow Day!

We woke this morning to this in our back yard. Considering that we live very close to sea level this is impressive! All the kids' schools were closed so they promptly went out to play in the snow with the neighbours. I think they're watching a movie next door at the moment. I love our lovely neighbourhood!

So, since my plans to do a couple of errands in town followed by a visist to my parents came to a screeching halt, I figured I could SEW! I've been working on the jean jacket draft, but I'll leave that for another post, when I've made the next toile. Meantime today I worked on a corduroy jean jacket (from the same pattern as Nicholas' one) for my nephew. I thought I'd show how I do collars to ensure that they sit nicely.

In order to sit well, the upper collar needs to be slightly bigger than the under collar. To achieve this, when pinning the two together I make sure that the edge of the under collar just peeks out. You can see the upper collar is sort of wrinkling because it's a little bigger.

Then after clipping the corners, turning and topstitching, I sew along the neck edge. To ensure room for turn-of-cloth (ie, the upper collar sitting smoothly over the undercollar) I fold the collar to create the room it needs. This edge is then pinned.

When I sew it I fold it as well, which helps keep it even.

The finished collar looks like this. You can just make out that it appears to have a wrinkle along it's length. When sewn to the jacket it will fold over nicely and sit flat against the jacket rather than have points which stick up.

Easy! It's one of those techniques I had to learn the hard way, and it makes a big difference to the appearance of a finished garment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Toile #1, Sleeve #3.

As expected, the sleeve cap on the first draft was too high and narrow. I decided to alter it, which I did this way: First I cut the sleeve along the vertical grain line, and then horizontally at three points within the sleeve cap. Each time almost to, but not through the edge (which is the stitching line). Then I just pulled it apart and overlapped the bits till it looked like this:

After adding back the length lost by this method, I had version #2 of the sleeve. This pic shows the toile with versions #1 and #2. #2 is a considerable improvement, but still not quite there.

So I repeated the process once more to get version #3, which is almost perfect.
The fabric I used for this toile is very springy, and hard to flatten, hence the wrinkles at centre front. I've tried this toile on both babies at each stage (loads of fun trying toiles on wriggly babies!) and decided that the sleeve is just as I want it.
Next up, turn my blocks into a DESIGN! Now I remember why I don't draft from scratch - it's great fun, but very time consuming. Still, once my block is perfected it's easy to modify into whatever design I choose.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Progress on drafting

I'd forgotten how much fun it is drafting pattern blocks. The Aldrich book has size charts from a British standard, and while they are odd in places (scye depth of 5.5cm for a one year old vs Aldrich's 20ish for a 2 year old?!) they are a good place to start. I've always liked maths, and drafting blocks is a simple process of following a plotting plan. You need to pay attention, but there's no complicated working out to do. (I did make my own decision on the scye depth by what looked right to my eye though.) So here's my completed block for an overgarment, via the basic bodice block.

And here's the sleeve. It has a very high looking sleeve cap, and the curve still looks a bit pointy, but that's what toiles are for! Next stop is to make a quick toile to see how this block works. I compared the pieces to the pattern I used for Nicholas' jean jacket and was pleased with the comparison. Just not sure about that very high sleeve cap.

I took these two photos on my desk. To get an aerial shot I stood on a chair. Naturally this was pretty fascinating to the twins, and when I looked down, I saw this:

Excuse the ratty pink socks. It's winter and my feet are cold :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The next challenge. Still for babies.

I'm excitedly waiting for DH to return from the library with Winifred Aldrich's childrenswear patterncutting book! I requested a hold on it, and when I checked it's status I found it was "lost". I swore (a lot) about some evil person deciding not to return it rather than buy it, and looked it up on Amazon. There's a new edition, which I am seriously coveting (and may well buy), but to my delight, I got an email this morning to say "my" book is ready to be collected! So, not so lost after all?

The reason I'm so keen to get hold of it is that I've had a number of comments on some of the clothes I've made the babies, and suggestions that I make some to sell. (DH's employer's wife even talked to the people at an up-market shop which does carry some locally made children's clothes about me!) I find that a very appealing proposition. However, if I'm going to sell clothes, they need to be my patterns. I have a good set of measurements, which I was given as part of a research paper I did for a final year clothing paper for my degree (a phd student at the University was doing a study on children's sizes, and I was able to use her data!) All I need are the block-drafting instructions. The library book starts at size two, so I might need to do some fudging for baby sizes. The new edition starts at birth. I so want it!

Pretty much everything I make starts with a commercial pattern because it's so much quicker than drafting from scratch. I am dying to draft a jean jacket! I love the one I made Nicholas, but it has way more ease than he needs, and even his cousin (who is more regular sized) had loads of room in it. I could never be bothered altering it, but now it's going to be my first attempt - a jean jacket to fit Nicholas (well, a jean jacket to fit someone his age - it'll still be big on him!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Finished hoodie

She did eagerly follow progress all day today! Fortunately it all went pretty simply and I got it done early this afternoon. Result - one happy camper. The light is reflecting a lot from the velour in this pic - in natural light it doesn't look quite as much like a christmas tree.

Keely, if you do want to borrow the pattern I really really really want to watch you figure out the front princess seam/pocket/binding. How's the studying going? If you're reading this you're obviously not doing any!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Copying details

I saw a picture somewhere on the web of a top for a girl with a neat pocket detail I really liked. I didn't take note of where I saw it, and had to sketch it from memory later. Basically the top has a curved front princess seam which forms a gathered pocket. The seam and pocket edge are bound. Here's one front, after I completed it. Creating the pattern pieces was pretty simple. Slash and spread for the gathered pocket, add on pocket bag, draw pocket facing. Mark in a couple of match points before splitting the pattern. Nothing complicated. Oh, and I had to add a hood and give it a zip front. According to the Nine Year Old Fashion Expert all sweatshirts must have hoods (and are therefore designated hoodies, not sweatshirts) and front fastening zips.

Turning it into a finished garment did require a fair amount of head scratching. I had to think very carefully just how to sew the binding so that it was along the outside of the pocket edge, and incorporated into the princess seam. It was easy enough to execute, once I'd worked out where to clip and turn. Which isn't to say that I didn't do the exact same head scratching when it came to doing the second one!

This pic sort of shows where it all lines up at the pocket edge after being topstitched down. The topstitching had to be done in two parts - first along the pocket edge, then the rest of the seam.

Then I sewed the raglan seams as bound seams. I think they may be called strapped seams, but I'm not sure. I am quite willing to be corrected :-) First I lined up the pieces wrong sides together and pinned them, then I added the velour binding/strapping and pinned that. I pinned the seam first to be sure I didn't distort it by adding binding.

Lastly I just folded the binding/strapping under the sewn seam and topstitched it down.

Here are the pieces I started with.

Now I just have to finish the sweatshirt. If Georgia sees it half made when she gets home from school today she'll bug me for the rest of the weekend to get it done! I realised years ago that when sewing for kids you have to pack away the project after each session. If it's out on the desk I'm supposed to be working on it ;-)

This was a fun exercise. I really like the mental challenge of recreating something I've only seen as a picture. I find that if I have too much easy sewing I get bored. If I have too much challenging sewing I get burnt out. I need to have a bunch of projects lined up so that I can just pick whatever takes my fancy when the sewing machine calls.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How I Get Stuff Done.

Every now and then someone will ask (usually with a tone of disbelief) just HOW I get any sewing done with twin babies. The answer is two fold. Firstly, I have been blessed with babies who do this:

Usually for a couple of hours (sometimes THREE!) every day. Secondly, while the little darlings are thus occupied, I ignore all the housework I should be doing, and sew instead :-)

Apart from today, when I am glumly contemplating the fact that no matter which way I squint my eyes and rack my brains the fabric I desperately want to turn into pants will Not Look Good as pants. It's a stretch woven (so far so good) in a lovely sagey green with the teeniest subtle pink pin stripe. Where it falls down for pants is that it has a stretchy design element woven into it which gives it lovely texture and dimension, but I have a sinking feeling that pants made out of it will look like pyjamas. And not in a good way. Before I pre-shrunk it it was flat. I worried that washing would release the stretch, and sure enough, this is how it ended up:

So what do I do with it? Pants are out. It is telling me that it wants to be a jacket, but I don't currently need a jacket. So, it will sit while I re-think the pants. (Still ignoring the housework though.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Corduroy pants for ME!

It took eight attempts to get a photo of me that I didn't really really hate. These pants are very comfy, very warm, but they don't help at all to disguise the extra 10kg I'm still carting around, mostly on butt and thighs! Normally I never EVER wear my top tucked in, but I did it to show the pants better.

They're stretch corduroy with dark brown backing and beige nap, which is an interesting look. The pattern is from BWOF 04/07, #120. I made a 42, but added to the side seams to make it more like a 44. With the stretch I could have left off the extra, and if and when I lose some pounds, I'll take them in.

I also made them nice and long, just in case they shrink in the wash, even though I pre-shrunk the fabric before I began.

I got the idea of making a menswear style waistband after tossing my son's school pants in the wash - makes alterations much easier! From the outside it looks like this:

From the inside it looks like this:

All I did was attatch the waistband before finishing the CB seam. I bound the seam allowances and slipstitched them to the waistband facing. This way it's a lot easier to alter the pants later. If I want to just take a smidge off the waistband it's really easy, and if I want to take the side seams in I only have to unpick the waistband back to that point, and then re-attach it after adjusting the seams. Not as much of a headache as removing the entire waistband.
I'm definitely going to make these again, but with a few minor changes to make them more flattering on me.