Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tutorial: Wrap front onesie alteration. Part I: Pattern

First up, you need a pattern. I used one from Ottobre, issue 01/06, #4, but there are plenty of others around. My preference is for set in sleeves (I'll explain why when I get to that bit) the neckline and shoulder style are irrelevant because you're going to change them anyway. I looked up a few options. There's KS 2433 or KS 3375 for a looser fit. Or there's Butterick 5896 or McCalls 6103 or Simplicity 2459 or 2905 (which looks to me to be the same bodysuit pattern).

To start with you need a whole front, so trace one, flip the paper and trace another one. I then copy over that line from the right side so I have a whole front traced on one side of the paper. I particularly like working with Ottobre patterns because (apart from the great fit) they don't have seam allowances added. (It is a whole lot easier to work on patterns with no seam allowances and add them when you're done.) If you have a pattern with seam allowances already on it, it's worth marking in the stitching lines to make it easier to work with.

You need to trace the shoulder (stitching) line. If you have an envelope neck design this may be marked on. If not, there will be a registration mark to line up the overlap. Use this to work out where the shoulder line is.

I've used KS2433 to illustrate this. I traced the front and back pieces, overlapping them where indicated by the notch. I then folded my paper so that the side seams lined up and creased where that put the shoulder line. I've drawn in a dotted line to mark it. (I haven't subtracted the seam allowances for this, since it's just to illustrate how to find the shoulder line)

As you can see the resulting neckline needs a bit of tweaking, but at this stage that is very easy to do to produce a smooth neckline.

Then you draw the style lines onto the whole front. The neckline in the original pattern I'm using was to be bound, so the neckline here is the finished neck edge. I drew a line from the neck edge to the armhole seam. This line is the new finished neck edge. Now draw another line 1.5cm in from this line. This is the new stitching line for the neckband. The reason I choose set in sleeves becomes apparent here. If you choose a raglan style, the finished neckline will be shorter, which gives you less room to fit over the child's head. It is unlikely to be so much shorter that it causes a problem, but I figure why risk it?

The two parallel lines across the tummy are the cutting line and fold line for the under layer.

Now to work out the length of the neckband, overlap the back and front at the shoulder stitching line (I've traced my pattern to show this, since I didn't take any photos of the process I showed bits of in an earlier post). The solid line at the shoulder is the stitching line, and the dotted lines represent the overlapping seam allowances.

Then using a tape measure on it's side measure the finished neckline from centre back to the armhole. The measurement you get is half the length of the finished neckband (since you're measuring half the pattern). Easy!

Now the bit you need to be careful with. I decided on a finished neckband width of 1.5cm, so I drew a line on my pattern pieces 1.5cm from the finished neck edge. If you click on the picture below you'll get a bigger image and should be able so make out that this line is marked "1". This is the stitching line for the neckband. Then draw a seam allowance onto that - this line will be between the neckband stitching line and the finished neckline. My seam allowance is 1cm. That line is marked "2" and the finished neckline is marked "3".

Cut out your pattern pieces along the new cutting lines. (You'll be working with two separate pieces of paper for front and back of course, not a single piece of paper as I'm showing here since this illustration was just a tracing to show the process.) This gives you new front and back pieces.

To make a pattern piece for the front under layer, trace a mirror image of the front, down to the lines drawn on earlier.

Make a neckband pattern piece twice your finished width, plus seam allowances, and half as long as the finished neckband so you can cut it on a fold. My finished neckband is 1.5cm wide, so my pattern piece is (1.5cm + 1cm) x 2 = 6cm wide (finished width + seam allowance) x 2 (since it's folded in half.)

The sleeves are unaltered from the original pattern.

There you go, pattern done! Next up I'll show you how to sew it together. I promise it's easy too.

When you don't have a printer

Cough cough, hack hack, blech - I have a cold. Courtesy of the twins who are nothing if not generous when it comes to sharing their snot. I tell you, nothing makes me feel more like I have a tribe of kids than calling the doctor's office and asking for appointments for "a couple of my children". When I actually meant three of them. Fortunately it was a nice quick visit - one case of conjunctivitis , one possible blocked tear duct and confirmation that the warty rash on Isabella is that contagious one which will go away on it's own in 3-4 months.

Anyway, it seems to have been sick central around here lately - so far only David and Cayden have not come down with anything. This is the first cold I've had since I had pneumonia in January, and I'm really nervous - I've been told that I may be more susceptible to chest infections and related problems because of it.

Which is all a very long winded way of saying that production around here has been patchy at best. I have a couple of patterns half drafted, three dresses cut and ready to stencil and sew, and little inclination to do any of it. So I procrastinated by tracing some images I've had stored in the computer forever. When our computer died my clever SIL put our old hard drive into this computer, which I only realised a few days ago!

I'm still waffling aren't I? The point of this post was supposed to be to show how I traced an image from my computer rather than just print it out. We used to have a printer. Then it ran out of ink and we balked at spending the cost of a new printer on replacing it, so the printer just got used as a scanner for a while. Then Nicholas got at it, and now it doesn't work at all. In any case, I couldn't print the images. So I traced them. Last time I did this I learned that computer screens are the one thing from which Glad Press'n'Seal will not pull away cleanly. Oops. The teenager (who owns the screen) was not impressed! So this time I taped a piece of gladwrap (clingfilm) over the screen and placed the press'n'seal on that, and traced away.

Very very low tech, but it worked just fine!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Finished bubble dress, and some replies

Does it look like I'm showing off to show the finished bubble dress the day after showing it in pieces? Yes? Thought so. Oops. Sorry! It is truly the quickest thing to sew though. Not necessarily the easiest, but once I'd figured out the best construction method/order the first time all the subsequent ones have been a breeze.

I have a soft olive and cream plaid version cut next, and a bunch of rose stencils for it done the long way with a craft knife. I really really really need to do some major sucking up to my very clever and fabulous and wonderful (I've just learned that she reads my blog, hehehe) scrapbooking friend who owns a cricut......

So on to other things. I've had a couple of questions and comments lately which could do with proper responses, so here goes:

Imaan - if you're interested I'd be happy to do a full tutorial on the onesie design. I think it's a pretty good one for beginner sewers because the modifications I made to make it easy to use also make it easy to sew, and the modifications to the pattern are pretty simple. Isabella needs another one, so I'll photograph the process as I do it. Oh, and craft punches can be found at SL, and also often at stationery shops and anywhere that sells scrapbooking supplies.

Julia, you asked about my appliques. I showed how I did them in this post and this post a while back, but you've guessed correctly - it's two layers of fabric on top of the garment. You start with the garment section, place on a scrap of your contrast, followed by a scrap of your garment fabric. Then stitch the design and very carefully snip away the fabric around it, leaving more of the constrast to form a border. It's not hard, but it is a bit fiddly.

Kathryn at Les Petits Anglais commented on My Favourite Book giving her problems with ease allowances. Having seen Beangirl's first efforts with the same book also give great-but-not-quite-perfect results too I'm really really really keen to hear absolutely anything either of you (or anyone else who has used it) have to say about it. I am totally in love with the book, and very very happy with the blocks I've drafted from it, and the clothing designs I've drafted from those blocks. I want to know why I'm totally happy and you aren't. (Although, Beangirl, I think you're well on the way!) Trust me, it isn't because I'm cleverer ;-) I wish the three of us could get together for a few days, ditching kids with husbands and see what we could come up with! Wouldn't that be the best fun?!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Creative Space - Why buy what you can make better?

I thought I'd join in on My Creative Space over at Kootoyoo today, because it's so much fun peeking into other creative spaces!

My creative space has been busy for the last few days, working on a few different projects, depending on whether or not the twins are around. Lately I've been trying to get sewing done while they're not napping, so they get used to it going on in the background and don't feel the need to investigate what I'm doing in up-close detail! Um, yeah, this might take a while.

So anyway, project #1 was a singlet (vest, undershirt, onesie) for Isabella, who is about to outgrow the ones she's wearing now. I bought a couple on sale in Farmers and wasn't happy with either of them really. I didn't like one because I don't personally like the envelope neck style - great principle, but they never seem to sit well because the wrap over bit isn't big enough so they take fiddling . I'm NOT a fan of fussing with clothing on wriggly toddlers! The other was annoying because it's a wrap over style (so far so good) but it has too many domes. (See previous comment about fussing and wriggly children). So with two not-very-satisfactory singlets I wondered why I didn't just MAKE her some - I'd adapted an Ottobre pattern for Nicholas some time ago and it works really well, so I just needed to do the same thing for her size and get to it. (For the record it's Ottobre 01/06, #4)

First I needed a complete pattern for the front. Trace one, flip the paper and trace again...
At this point Nicholas got interested. This will become relevant later.

I drew my new style lines on the complete pattern. The outer neckline is there so I can measure it to see how long to cut my neckband. The inner neckline is the new seamline. The two horizontal lines are where to cut the under layer and it's hem fold line.
To make the singlet I cut one complete front and one (mirrored obviously) half front. I find the cross over style is easy to pull on over their heads and then sits nicely. And I only have to do up two domes at the crotch. Easy! Easy is good.

Then Nicholas did this....

Yup - tore it! By very lucky chance he only ripped the bit I was discarding anyway, but still! At this point I gave up till nap time.
With the tiny destructo-bots safely tucked up for a snooze, I went on to the Not-With-Them-Around project - freezer paper stenciling for a bubble dress. I wanted to use a darker, more wintery coloured fabric, but it still needed to have a bit of a pop to stop it looking too drab.
I didn't want to waste effort stenciling on the turned in lower edge of the bubble, so to establish where that lower edge would be I placed the lining pattern on the dress section and chalked on a line half way between the two to use as a rough guide.

Then I cut a bunch of leaves from freezer paper with a craft punch - how quick and easy is that compared to laboriously cutting each stencil with a knife?! Iron them on in what I thought was a pleasing pattern...

Have at it with textile paint, and there you have it. A front and two backs lying on the floor to dry. Slight panic while I figure out where I'm going to put them when the twins wake up...

When the paint was dry and I'd peeled off the freezer paper and heat set the paint, it looked like this.
Much prettier than plain navy I think. I have a couple of plaids destined for the same treatment once I get the right paint colours....
Meanwhile, while the paint was drying, I got to sewing Isabella's singlet. It took next to no time to sew, and cost pretty much nothing. Pattern from a magazine I admittedly bought, but already owned, so that's free right? Fabric courtesy of Keely destashing while I was pregnant - free. Domes - 2 sets of the 2000 sets I bought for $4.00. That's 0.2c each - not 2c each, 0.2c each! Thread - hard to assess how much overlocker thread I used, and the sewing was done with whatever was lying around, so next to nothing. End result is a style I really like, and all it really cost me was a small amount of time. So why did I buy two I didn't even like?

Edited to add - oops, domes are snaps. I forget that not everyone speaks New Zealand!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Baby Trench Part 8: Finished

I've been procrastinating with this too, but this time it's because I was a bit sad about seeing it All Finished. I'm going in to Miracle tomorrow and should really take it in so thought I should get on with it. All that needed doing since my last installment were the buttons and buttonholes. To my relief the buttonholes behaved - I'd have said some Very Bad Words if I'd had to unpick any!
So, without further ado, here it is:

And the back:
If she'll cooperate (and is spotlessly clean) I want to get a shot of this being modelled by Isabella. Don't hold your breath.

And just for fun, another bubble dress. They seem to sell well, so it's worth making more.

I've added a link over on the right to an album of my designs. Just to keep them all in one place. I was a bit surprised at how many there were! I know a few may be missing thanks to our computer dying, so I'll have to do a troll through my blog archives to see if I can pick any extras.
Feedback and suggestions are always very welcome - what should I do next? What does anybody like or not like?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Procrastination pays off

This is the dress I was working on last week. I was all fired up over the tulip sleeves, and love how they turned out. And then I ran out of enthusiasm for it. The neckline looked too plain, but piping it or adding a collar or something would have made the dress too fussy. So it got put aside in favour of mucking around with other stuff.

Then a couple of nights ago as I sat up in bed giving Nicholas his midnight snack it hit me - the neckline needed a little curvy nick taken out of it!

I could hardly wait for the twins to have their nap the next day so I could get stuck into it. By the end of the day the dress was all finished. The back was the first element I thought of, and an idea I think I'll revisit.

So there you go - procrastinating till the right idea hits totally pays off!
Beangirl, the paint I used is Fas brand Fastex Textile Ink, the colour is metallic silver. My next experiment is to try acrylic craft paint mixed with textile medium.
Mary Nanna, I got freezer paper at Spotlight in the dress fabric department (used to be in the craft dept with the quilting stuff). If Dunedin has it it'd be worth asking if any of the Auckland stores have it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freezer paper stenciling, oh yeah!

I've wanted to have a go at freezer paper stenciling since I first saw it somewhere on the net. It looked just like something I would really enjoy, and really lent itself to the sort of embellishment I like to do. So when I realised that I could get freezer paper at Spotlight there was no stopping me!

I won't bother with any sort of tutorial because blogland is full of them - I googled it and got over 10 000 hits! It's really easy and heaps of fun. I plan to do a lot more of this.

After a couple of experiments I made pants for Nicholas. I wanted to photograph them flat on the floor to show the design, but as soon as he saw them Nicholas decided that he wanted to put them on. (He was really interested in the stenciled leg when it was on my desk). As it turned out, the resulting photo shows the design really well! So here is my first stenciled garment - footprint pants for Nicholas.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The best way to spend Sunday morning

My kids love playing on my Dad's boat whenever we go and visit my parents, or when it was parked outside our house while I worked on The Cover . And when it was realised, by kids and everyone else, that they had never been out on a boat Dad accused David and I of coming close to child neglect and a trip was rapidly arranged. The twins were left in the expert hands of my Mum while Dad took David, Georgia, Oliver and I for a run. (Cayden was sleeping, in preparation for the all-night networking session he and two friends were having that night!)

Sunday dawned calm and warm with a little patchy cloud. Perfect for a run from Back Beach to the Heads. (Back Beach is just behind Port Chalmers, and the Heads is Taiaroa Head at the mouth of Otago harbour.) We saw seals and even a penguin (well, I didn't because I was putting away the camera, damn it!) albatrosses, shags and all sorts of other neat stuff. The kids took a bit of getting used to the motion of the boat, especially just outside the Heads, where it was a LOT bumpier, but declared it great fun. (And to my profound relief, nobody got seasick!)

I love looking at Dunedin from the water. It is fantastic to live so close to such easily accessible beautiful scenery. (Well, if you have a Dad with a boat. Otherwise you can climb a hill on one side of the harbour and then you can admire the other side and a whole lot further. The walk from Aramoana to Haywards Point or even as far as Murdering Beach is one of my personal favourites.)

I have been sewing, (and I've been discovering the joys of freezer paper stenciling too, hehehe.) But I've had two nights of crap sleep (on top of goodness knows how many patchy ones) thanks to one or other or both twins and today is too gloomy to photograph the pants I made anyway, so a post will have to wait till I can summon a bit of energy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Drafting and ease

Beangirl posed a very interesting question in a comment on my previous post.

"OK, I have a question about the patterns in the Aldrich.... do you find her suggested ease good? I'm meaning on the clothing patterns, where she adds xx cm to each measurement. I was just wondering if you go with these (or similar for your own designs) or if you have a different set that you prefer (and is that more or less ease)."

Now ease is a concept vital to the production of good patterns, and one which can drive you nuts in bought patterns. So for you Beangirl, and anyone else interested in My Favourite Book
I did some as-accurate-as-I-could-manage measuring of Isabella, who I use for a size 2 model. By happy coincidence she was accurately weighed and had her height measured at a paediatric appointment yesterday. So, here goes. (All measurements in centimetres, apart from weight obviously)

.......................Aldrich......... Isabella

Height ...............86................. 82.7

Weight......... 11-12kg ..........13.45kg

Chest ................52.................. 51

Waist ................49.................. 53

Hip ....................52................. 59

A couple of things to note - Isabella wears cloth nappies, so her hip measurement is considerably bigger than the one given in Aldrich. She was weighed dressed apart from coat and shoes, so that measurement is a little high. Her tummy was hard to measure because she was giggling and probably poking it out. She is quite round though, so I think my measurement is pretty accurate.

I would expect that a block drafted from the measurements given in the charts in Aldrich would fit Isabella pretty well, possibly being a little snug over the bum if insuffficient ease is allowed. It should be a little bit too big (which will allow growing room).

And that is exactly what I've found, except that there is enough room for her bulky nappy, so there is enough ease allowed.

As an illustration, here's a dress design I'm currently working on. (Toile #1 of probably at least 2 or 3) This design will be altered before I actually make one to be worn, but the fit is the point, so here we go. Very little has been done to alter the fit from the block, so this is a good example to show.

This is drafted from the flat (woven) blody block for a size 86. I turned it into a raglan block using the tracksuit adaptation from her menswear book (oh how I LOVE having a small library of drafting books!) and added flare to the lower section by slashing and spreading in wedges - there is no change to the edge which is seamed to the gathered yoke. The yoke has been slashed and spread to create the gathers, but there is no extra ease added there either. The sleeves were straightened from armhole to cuff as there will be an elastic casing at the cuff. I've folded them up more than the 3cm allowed hem so her hands peek out, so you can see there's growing and moving room there. The skirt has been drafted to be knee length, but I haven't folded up the 3cm hem allowed here. It will be just below her knees - where I'd expect for her height.

So where does that get us? I can only speak from my experience of course, but I find her blocks to be really good. I like the ease allowances given (some blocks give you the option of closer or easier fitting too). The garments I've drafted to fit Isabella fit her as I expect - nicely, with room to move and grow, but they don't swamp her. I could rave on and on for weeks about everything I love about drafting with this book, but I'll stop here with the hope that it has (rather long-windedly) answered your query. If you (or anyone else - I could blather on about drafting and fit forever!) has any other questions, fire away!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Finished tulip sleeves

As is so often the case, I raced to get these sleeves set in because they were the design element which really excited me. And I am utterly delighted with how they look. Cute and girly and puffy without being too OTT. (Well, I don't think so anyway).

And then I ran out of enthusiasm for the dress. I know pretty much how I'm going to finish it, but I was not inspired to do so after getting to this point.

I was, however, inspired to draft and make this for Isabella on Friday.

The pattern of the fabric makes the design lines hard to see. It has princess seams from the armhole, and there is a sort of indent in the armhole where the panels meet to really play that element up. I wasn't thinking when I topstitched those seams though and stitched them the wrong way. At least with this busy print it isn't obvious, but in a solid colour it would look odd. That's what you get for steaming away till 12.30am because you HAVE to finish this dress tonight so she can wear it tomorrow. For no particular reason.

I've learnt over the years that if it is possible I should go where the mojo leads - if I'm not inspired to work on something it won't get my best efforts and I could use the procrastinating time productively anyway. So the white dress has been hanging half finished for a couple of days, but Isabella has a new dress. Works for me!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My creative space - making a sleeve more complicated than it needs to be

I've enjoyed popping into other people's creative spaces via Kootoyoo's "My creative space" every Thursday, so I thought I'd share mine this week.

By now anyone who looks at this blog regularly knows that I like detail. I LOVE fiddly stuff to make. So for my latest design, which has a totally plain A-line front (don't worry, there's going to be some interest at the back) I decided on quite an elaborate applique. This design is from a brilliant book of William Morris inspired quilting/applique designs. (Details to be checked when I dig out the book before returning it to the library!)

Cutting away the excess fabric is fiddly and exacting.

But the layer of colour combined with the contrasting thread stitching really make the design pop.

Then it was on to the sleeve. I'd drafted a tulip sleeve (from Aldrich of course!) and wanted to do something to show off the edge.

I started by cutting bias strips of the same satin that I used under the applique. This two ruler trick is a great way to get a long line. The upper ruler is a BRILLIANT scrapbooking one a lovely friend picked up for me. It has 0 in the centre and goes out to 15cm (or 6 inches depending on which side you use) at each end. It also has lines printed on it which enable you to draw a line at 1.5, 2 or 2.5cm from something. I love this ruler sooooo much.

The wide bias strips were paired with narrow piping cord....

....and stitched to the edge of the sleeve. I had to pin from the back to line up the wide bias with the narrow hem allowance.......

....then move the pins to the front to make it easier to sew along the edge of the piping cord.

Then I trimmed the inner layer of the bias strip to line up with the cut edge of the sleeve.

After that I said a few rude words as I steamed my fingers pressing the remaining seam allowance over the trimmed one and hem allowance before pressing everything into it's final position.
I topstitched from the right side to hold everything nice and securely.

Here's what it looks like from the inside - nice clean tidy bound edge.

And from the outside, a nice piped edge.

Steamed fingers aside, this was easy enough to do and looks just how I wanted it to. I love it when I have what I'm sure will be a good idea and it works even better than I'd hoped! Now to finish the dress so I can set in the sleeves....