Monday, September 28, 2009

I wish I were three.....

....because then I could wear this. I think I'm a bit old for this style, but I really like how it turned out!

I wonder if I made it with non-puffed sleeves and added a couple of darts to shape the body
if I could wear this style? Or am I about 20 years too old? I made this for a size three because I wasn't sure how it'd look over a real baby belly. Toddler bellies are still very round, but a bit more spread out vertically. I can just see this on my three year old neice! (Apart from the fact that she's in France so a bit far away to model for me)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three budding seamstresses

The girls finished Isabella's bubble dress yesterday afternoon. I helped (I did most of the pinning), but they did the actual sewing themselves, taking turns to do each seam. They are very proud of themselves, and immediately put it on Isabella. (Who needs dolls when you have two little people to play dress-ups with?) She was not overly impressed at the time, and this is the best of several photos. I suspect she will hate me for it when she gets older, but I doubt that she's going to scour my blog archives for embarrassing pictures of herself as a baby, so I should get away with it!

I took this pic a few days ago when the girls were cutting out the garments they made. They had to do it in the hallway so that the babies couldn't get at anything!

I wonder what they'll tackle next?

Monday, September 21, 2009


I finished Isabella's jacket while the twins were napping. I haven't added any detail shots because it's done exactly the same way as the previous one from this pattern.

I have cheated a bit and shot this pic from a low angle because the one I took from directly above shows the yoke seam, collar and hem uneven. They are even, but the bulk of the fabric and the thickness of the button shanks pushes everything a little askew. It was a battle getting the buttons to go through the holes! My buttonhole foot adds a little extra to the length of buttonholes to allow for this, but in this case it wasn't enough. I suspect this will be worn unfastened when she's in the buggy and I can tuck it around her and the harness will hold it closed. I considered taking it to my friend's house to make keyhole buttonholes, but I wouldn't have been able to do that till Sunday and I couldn't wait. (I'm Not Good At Waiting) The buttonholes are red for the same reason.

Mary Nanna and Jen, I confess I do really like sewing for little girls. Boy sewing is good, but not as creatively fun as girl sewing. I do like seeing all my kids wearing clothes I've made them though, so the boys do get Mum-made stuff too. At least boy sewing is mindless - by the time you turn out a few pairs of pants you can do it in your sleep, and it's quicker and easier than driving to town and shopping, with all the hassle that entails with small children! Which reminds me, Nicholas needs new pants.....

One for my own baby!

After all the sewing I've been doing potentially (hopefully) for other peoples' babies, it feels almost strange to be making one of my designs for Isabella! She has a warm furry winter coat, but with a glorious spring upon us she needed something a little less toasty. I have tried my first version of this one on her and it fit her nicely, so here we go. I shortened it to jacket length rather than coat length, but otherwise it's the same as last time, seen here.

(That's her hand in the bottom of the picture. Like Nicholas she likes to know what is going on at all times).

The fabric is a lovely soft cotton denim I was given a few years ago, which is probably rather old. It's thick and has a brushed back so it's very soft. The applique is done in exactly the same way as this one. (Clicking on the pic will make it bigger and clearer). Lining is "dancetime" satin from Spotlight. Left over from something else, so I have so far spent about $6 on this jacket - for buttons and topstitching thread. I still have quite a chunk of the denim left too!

It is getting harder and harder to sew with them around, so the hem and buttons will have to wait till today's naptime.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back to baby sewing

After making a bias cut satin dress for me, it was kind of nice to go back to simple cotton baby shirts! These two are based on the same block as the boys' ones, but I flared them out by slashing and spreading the pattern. They have different details, which were fun to do. Both have concealed domes at the front. I just attached them to the facing only, then used my zip foot to sew right next to them through all the layers so they're anchored in place but not visible except where the top one is open. I'm thinking about tiny flower appliques over the spot, or something similar to make a feature of the fastening on future versions.

The pleated inset on this shirt was directly inspired by the beautiful creations I saw here and here. For a baby shirt I kept the cutout simple - even and symetrical. I'm really keen to try something using this technique for me, but I'm not sure what yet.
Georgia and two of the neighbours are getting really interested in sewing and decided that they wanted to make clothes for the twins. They borrowed a couple of patterns which I felt were suitable and had at it! This red vest is very largely their work. I showed them how to lay out the pattern, and I pinned it for them, then after they'd cut out the pieces I showed them how to sew each seam and they all took a turn doing one on Georgia's machine. The button and appliques they sewed on by hand themselves. This is their first effort and they are very proud of themselves, and rightly so!

They are now working on a bubble dress for Isabella. With input from me they'll get it done, and Isabella will love the attention. I'll post a pic when they finish. Enthusiasm in kids is to be encouraged!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Finished, worn, loved

I finished my dress in plenty of time to wear to dinner last night. I was right about the bias dropping. I don't know how much extra it dropped for being hung for two days, but I was confident when I hemmed it that it'd be fine.

You can see in this photo what a big difference there is in length around the hem. The longest point is on the true bias.

I had no helpers when it came time to mark the hem, so took a deep breath and did it solo. I put the dress on and marked where I wanted it to hit. It was quite a challenge to hold it steady against my thigh while I marked a point just below my knee! From there it was a simple matter of putting it on my dummy and marking it by measuring up from the floor with a long ruler. My fear doing it solo is that while my dummy is very similarly proportioned to me it isn't as accurate as getting a helper to mark it on me. I figured it wasn't going to be significantly out even if it was a tad. (I've done this before with success, but not for a while). I have one of those chalk puffer thingies for marking your own hems, but I'm, um, not sure which box in the roof it's in.

Anyway, after doing my baby hem on the dress and pressing it and putting on a decent bra (which makes a huge difference!), it looks like this:

Photo credit to the overexcited nine year old who was looking forward to being babysat by her aunt and staying up past bedtime to help her with the twins!

And here's the one she took of me and David just before we left. That's Nicholas' head in the corner. Nothing happens in this house without his investigating! David's shirt is one of approximately 15+ I have made over the years for him or his twin brother. It's my absolute favourite, Burda 8471 I can churn one out in no time - the fit needed very little tweaking, so he doesn't need to be involved till I hand him a completed shirt. He likes this.
We had a great dinner with my parents (Dad's thanks for making the boat cover). It was great fun being with just them - usually when we catch up there are lots of other family members around, and it was really good having a long uninterrupted time to natter. We reminisced about all sorts of things, like our family reunion tramp of the Milford Track when I was 15. It started raining within 5 minutes of the boat dropping us off, we nearly got held up for a day by flooding on the track, the McKinnon pass was covered in mist (and rain of course) so we slogged up all those zigzags and didn't get to see any of the view, and it stopped raining AS I WALKED OUT AT THE FAR END! (The Sutherland Falls were spectacular though.) Dad got the best work day of his life at a similar time (my bitter and twisted memory is that it was a week later, but he thinks not) by being flown over the area in glorious sunshine in a helicopter to inspect some tie-down thing he had designed for a radio mast up a mountain in the area. Tough life.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ahh - that's better!

Because I really can't leave well enough alone, here's the pic I took after I pressed the CB seam and checked that the dress was hanging straight! It's still not perfect, but I declare it Good Enough. The slight rippling you can see in the zip seems to be caused by the gaps between the sections on my dummy. As far as I can tell when I try it on they aren't there.

Now I can move on ;-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who was I kidding?

Um, yeah, I had that zip unpicked and redone within an hour of my last post! Natasha was right - it would bug me every time I looked at it. Thanks everyone for the helpful comments. The seam isn't on the true bias, and being a back seam it has a curve at the waist, further complicating things. My wedding dress was also stretch charmeuse cut on the bias, and I had to do the zip a couple of times to get it right. Fortunately I remembered yesterday what I did - I stretched the fabric as far as I could as I applied the zip. You'd expect that to make the zip very ripply, but it actually counteracts the weight of the skirt almost perfectly. I took a very hurried pic after I finished but before I pressed it. (Twins were waking up and sewing time was over for the day, sigh.....)

If you click on it you can see it bigger. When I put the pic on the computer I realised that one side looks fine and one puckered, but I swear both were smooth when I tossed it on the dummy! I think it "caught" on the fuzzy dummy cover as I carried it outside. Anyway, sleepless night averted, and I'm now happy with the zip. (Or I will be after I press it and check it is smooth on me.)

I left it on the dummy overnight to let the bias drop. Since the fabric has elastane in it it is less susceptible to dropping, but I'm still expecting to have to even out the hem. Today's job is to finish the neckline and armhole edges, and then I'll leave it on the dummy overnight again before hemming it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do I or don't I?

So far today I've joined the two halves of the dress, and I'm happy with the fit. However, I'm not thrilled with the CB zip/seam. I basted that sucker with two lines of stitching before I sewed it in, and I tried it on the dummy about five times while I was working on it. It was flat and smooth when I did it, but on the dummy it kind of puckers at the waist. I showed David when he came home for lunch and he didn't see the puckers till I pointed them out.

If you click on the picture you can see a bigger view. I took the shot outside in bright sunlight to show as much detail as possible. I have a bit more butt than the dummy, so it sits more smoothly over my backside.

So my question is this - is it worth ripping out that zip and trying again? David reckons that it is not noticable enough to be worth it, and I'm scared that a rework won't improve it to any significant degree. I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to be tossing and turning all night trying to talk myself into leaving it, and in the morning I'm going to rip the bugger out and do it over. And I'll feel so much better for doing so. (I did say I'm a bit inclined to be anal.)

Finished party dress, and MY dress

Here is J's finished dress on my dummy. She forgot to bring her undergarment when she picked it up, so I didn't see it on her. She did bring the belt and shoes she's going to wear with it. I love that red! It sits better on her than the dummy (as most things do), but you get the idea. I made red thread belt loops to hold the belt in place, so she can never wear it belt less now!

Gail asked why I didn't pin the neckline stay tape directly to the inside. Basically, because I am incredibly anal. (There's a reason I call my blog Everything Just Sew!) Bodies can be asymmetrical, and to ensure the neckline fits her properly I had to pin it from the right side. If I'd done it inside out there's a chance it would have sat differently if one shoulder was higher than the other, for example.

So after that was done, it was time for MY dress! I had no problem picking fabric and pattern from my collection. I got to it yesterday while the twins were asleep. I was planning to get as much done as possible, so needed fuel. I like this fuel. I chuck them all in a bowl so I never know what flavour I get till I eat it. (Entertainment as well as a snack!) Better not do it too often or I'll undo all the effort I've put in losing 10kg and my dress won't fit.

For my pattern I chose Vogue 2786, a vintage pattern I've had for a couple of years. I'm not keen on long dresses, so shortened it to about knee length. That also saved a LOT of fabric, since it's cut on the bias. I've had these two printed stretch satins for a couple of years as well. I love that one is a negative image of the other. I figured that would highlight the gathered section without being too big a contrast.
I'd traced it a couple of years ago to make in a cotton, but the fabric turned out to be elasticated and pulled into a wide seersucker effect when I prewashed it. Totally inappropriate for this dress, so the pattern sat forlornly waiting for the right fabric. A quick measure showed that while most of me is back at pre-baby size, my bust is still at production volume and I needed a bit more room there! The easiest way to get it was simply to add a bit extra at CF and CB and figure it out with fitting.
Here's one of the gathered insets sewn to it's stay. It's a bit hard to see, but the corners curl up because the stay is a very tight fit. This should make the inset sit nice and snug against my body, which will make the gathers sit in tightish folds - there's nothing worse than floppy gathers sitting around your middle!

And here's one completed half pinned to the dummy. I've done both halves, and hope during today's nap to get them joined together. The pattern has you do a hand rolled hem at the edges, but I don't fancy that - too wimpy for armholes and neckline for my taste. I'm going to use narrow strips of self fabric as facings instead. They also use a conventional zip, which I've ditched in favour of an invisible one, and I raised the back. Several months at the gym mean I could wear a low back with confidence, but no amount of work at the gym is going to render my front capable of going without a bra and I don't fit my low backed one at the moment! I'm really not looking forward to hemming this. Bias cut stretch charmeuse. Oh yay.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Party dress progress

After the boat cover, it was quite a change to work on a dress! Since it's a one shouldered style I decided to stay the neckline with twill tape. In order to do that I had J try on the dress, right way out, and pinned the tape along the neckline on the right side, snugging the bodice to her body where needed.
Then of course I had to move it to the inside without losing the dimensions. That was easily accomplished by marking tape and dress at several points with pairs of pins before moving the tape to the inside.
After moving the tape to the inside, I sewed it in, easing the excess as I went. I used a LOT of pins to make it even.

Since gettng to this point I've sewn in the lining (I wish I'd photographed that, since it was an interesting exercise getting it in and understitched to neckline and armhole.)
And for no useful reason, here's a gratuitous skitey photo of me sitting on Dad's boat earlier today. I went out there so we could have a photoshoot of the cover totally finished. The weather was beautiful, which never hurts. This shot just shows how the sides can be rolled up so you can fish even if it's raining. (Dad has such a tough life!)
Hmm, from this angle my legs look about three inches long.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The biggest client I have ever fit

The blue line on the horizon above the bow is the sea. It was very important to get the sea in the same picture.
Dad's boat. The cover is FINISHED! I took these pics today before we added the last details - a few velcro strips to hold the sides when rolled up and the door when open. It's been a Very Big Job, but satisfying to complete. Dad and I both felt that without the one we copied to figure out how to do it, we wouldn't have had a clue where to start.
Which leads to some very enjoyable MEMEME sewing. I sewed it for Dad in exchange for the fact that he taught me to drive 7 years ago, and didn't even make me give him petrol money. (However, he had promised a chocolate fish upon completion. A whole one, just for me.) Then last time he was over while we worked on it he said that actually he'd like to treat me and David to dinner out (as long as it's somewhere good - if we pick McDonald's it's off!) to say thanks. So now of course I need a new dress. I have some great printed satins, and plan to spend the twins' nap time tomorrow searching through all the When-I-Need-A-Nice-Dress patterns I've been collecting.....

Naturally I've been doing other sewing as well. I had my first lesson with the girl I'm going to teach last Saturday, which was fun. I hope she enjoys it too! I wish I'd had someone tell me first thing in the first lesson that patterns don't necessarily fit.
I made another shirt, this time a size two. Funny how grading a pattern is not as much fun as drafting it. I wonder why that is? Anyway, this one is exactly the same pattern as the last one, with the addition of a bias strip to finish the back neckline. It just looks better I think.

Inside the collar.

And a bubble dress/tunic. I wasn't sure what I'd do with this fabric to show the neat print, and this just came to me. It was very quick and easy to draft and make and I really like it, as does Georgia, who thinks it's too cute to sell, and should be given to Isabella. She may be right.