Thursday, September 30, 2010

Someone else's pattern - what a novel idea!

I have been known to wryly comment that poor Isabella is going to spend her life dressed in prototypes. The best way for me to trial a new design is to make it to be worn. And when I have a small model living in my house (who is too small to complain that she is not paid for this) I take full advantage and she test wears many of my designs.

The downside to this is that I seem to be constantly having to make things up as I go along - sometimes it would be nice to just open a pattern and make it. One where someone else has worked out the kinks and written instructions so that I don't have to think!

Enter My New Pinafore. A delightful pattern designed by Karen Davis and sold through If you go to their patterns page and scroll down you can see it, but apparently you have to email them to buy it. (I got it from the Craft and Quilt Fair in Christchurch.)

Here it is in a size three for Isabella. A pretty, simple pinafore.

The pattern for which I probably wouldn't have bought had there not been a beautifully made sample right there which I unbuttoned to find a very clever opening. I love clever, elegant design solutions so I just had to make this!

The instructions for this were fantastic - clear and thorough. Gotta love instructions which tell you to press - repeatedly. I didn't line the skirt which simplified it a bit. Isabella is currently napping and today is grey and cold so I have yet to photograph this on her. Once I do I'll do a proper review on Patternreview. Short version - Good pattern. Worth buying.

Edited to add a photo of Isabella most willingly modelling her new dress. I ask her if she wants to try on a new dress and she starts jumping up and down and trying to rip off whatever she is already wearing. Once in the new dress she immediately climbs onto the chair placed for her photo. When she's older she might start asking for her modelling fees to be direct paid into her bank account, but at the moment we get by with cuddles.
This is a size three on 2y4m Isabella. The fit is described as "very easy" and it fits my chubby little girl perfectly - not too tight or baggy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So Spring already!

Well ok the past couple of days have been lovely - I wore my new Vionnet dress yesterday and felt a million bucks in it! David concurred ;-)

In a desperate attempt to force the weather to play nice, I made these two dresses for Isabella.
(Although Keely and I are convinced that as soon as she starts thinking about making a warm coat the weather warms up. Start thinking Keely!)

The one above is made from the softest cotton (?) sateen which has been mellowing in the stash for ages since I bought it as a remnant. There wasn't enough to make anything floaty for me or Georgia, so it waited till I had Isabella. Then it popped up and politely requested that I make it into a summery dress for her. Done.

The one below is the result of several design ideas I've had floating around for a while, most notably back wrapped styles and external facings. I saw something somewhere which smacked me in the face and those disparate ideas coalesced and this was the result. The fabrics are quilting cottons from Spotlight, which I found in their remnant bin on Sunday. There was just enough of the pink, if I cut the bodice upside down and put a seam in the bodice at CF. I'm not sure how they'll stand up to wear, but I'm keen to find out. And they cost only $5.40 so I won't be heartbroken if this dress doesn't wear terribly well. The joy of drafting my own patterns is that I can repeat a design any time I like, with alterations as I choose.

The bird stencil is one I got from a library book. (It took aaaaaaaaages to cut from freezer paper, so I was really careful peeling it off to see if it can be reused. I've never heard that stencils can be reused, but I have heard that when used for patterns for quilting and such, freezer paper can be readhered.) I dropped the paintbrush while I was doing it, and there's a small smudge to the left of the image. Can you see it? I was careful not to go near it with the iron while I was heat setting, so it may wash out over time. Too bad if it doesn't!

In the mean time, not a lot else creative has been happening, often because of this guy. This is why we have a kiddie proof gate across our kitchen. (He's not allowed in at all if the oven is on!)

Totally unrehearsed or coached - he just watches us and when allowed in for a snack, copies. The boy is T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
Maybe this would help?

Would you believe that this was his idea as well?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I really love my kids..

....or else I wouldn't be doing this! I have decided that this year I will make as many of my childrens' christmas gifts as possible. I would love their stockings, handmade by me for each of them as they were born (well, the year they were born, not the actual moment) to be full of handmade goodies which they will love and cherish and play with for years. I've been working all their lives on indoctrinating them into believing that handmade is more precious than shop-bought. (It worked with me, thanks Mum and Dad!) I make people stuff as a tangible way to show that I love them. Georgia is well and truly brainwashed, hehehe. I have months. Should be plenty of time.....

Exhibit "A", the beginnings of cloth books for the twins. In my usual fashion I have begun each page as I've thought of it, with the intention of finishing them as I figure out how I'm going to do that! Some applique, some stencilling, some stitchery. Whatever I feel like. I'm desperately hoping that I won't need to resort to glue - my dear friend J (the glue queen) would never let me hear the end of it. I am pretty condescending about glue. So condescending that I don't actually own any glue of any kind.

The barn was taken from here, very slightly modified, and contains this guy. I am rather proud of him because I designed him myself. (I don't know how I am so sure he's a him. I just am) I used a much-too-big applique design as a guide for the face and made up the rest. He is being modelled by a purple clothes peg and duplo building plate because I could not hold my hand still to model him myself!

Exhibit "B"

I cut him out and sewed him up during the smallest crafty girls evening ever (just me and M - everyone else was busy this week!). M was highly amused by his "hands". Haven't you ever seen a horse waving his hands in the air? Anyway, I like him, wonky as he is. And he (and a buddy or two I have yet to make) are for two year olds. They are unlikely to be critical. And yes I know he's too big for a two year old. There was no way I was sewing (or cutting, that was harder!) anything smaller than this. I'll pretend that it's deliberate so that Mummy can join in with the play. They should fall for that. Once he was made and I tried him in the barn I realised that he is also too tall to be hidden by the doors when they're closed. Oops, too bad!

And tucked down here at the bottom where I hope Georgia doesn't see it, is this wrist pincushion for her.
Exhibit "C"
The stitchery is actually symmetrical, but extends over the sides a bit, so he looks wonky. I got the idea from here, but drew my guy myself. I just picked a christmas issue of a craft magazine (probably Homespun) and found a gingerbread man outline which was the right size and drew on the details. The pincushion is my own design and has a casing sewn onto the base so that the elastic can be easily replaced when it wears out. Georgia will love it, but she's been bugging me to make her a wrist pin cushion for a while and I'm not sure how well I can put her off till christmas. I'm famous for procrastinating, so I'll give it a shot!

If anyone's interested I'll post my progress on my Handmade Christmas. (Yay for Kirstie's Homemade Christmas for being one [of many] to inspire me!)

I may just aquire some supplies on our Crafty Girls road trip this weekend. Five of us are going to the Craft and Quilt Fair. In Christchurch. Yeah. We've been planning it for months. It's my first break since I had the twins. (I don't count the two days I spent hospitalized with pneumonia getting iv antibiotics in January, or the many days either side of them when I was too sick to do anything other than lie on the sofa while David just got on with taking care of everybody.) According to the fair website and our accommodation website both are operating business as usual. Earthquakes be damned - I WANT MY CRAFTY GIRLS ROAD TRIP! (And I'm sure the Christchurch economy could use the income).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vionnet dress - finished!

I don't like how I look in these photos, (when do I ever?) but I'm so pleased with the dress that I couldn't wait to show it off and couldn't wait for David to get home and take nice pictures (he makes me smile) and wanted to show it on me rather than the dummy - you get a much better idea of how it looks in real life. (Phew - need a breath after that sentence).

So here we go - angled view of the front:
And the back:

These shoes are not what I would likely wear with this dress, but they were the first heels I grabbed when getting organized to take the photos. And despite appearances to the contrary I am quite vain enough to want to make my legs look the best that I can. Which means heels.

I'm not wearing sucky-in undergarments (great suggestion Ann) because I don't own any. I've always worked on the theory that anything requiring such things was going to be too much work to wear! I may revisit this opinion, but this doesn't look too bad. I have several convertible bras which are ideal - just cross the straps at the back and we're good to go.

The hem I ended up just cutting. To stop the overlocked seams unravelling I would normally just stitch over the end, but given my sewing machine's dislike for this I decided to deal with the ends by threading them back through the seam. To have an end to thread after cutting the hem I left the seamlines uncut when I cut the hem, then unpicked the overlocking on the dangling seamlines, cut off the excess fabric, knotted the threads and threaded them through the seam.

My parents visited yesterday and were fascinated by the dress - especially my Dad, who is a retired structural engineer. He had a great appreciation for the dress' evolution from scaled schematic (with no indication given of what scale!) to dress. It is from him that I inherited my love of this sort of problem solving.

Now of course I want to WEAR it! Spring sprang yesterday with a gloriously bright sunny day so today is of course grey and overcast.
I'm not sure what's next. I have a large stack of possiblities from the Kirke book, or approximately seven kersquillion (yeah it is so a number!) other dresses that I'd like to make. With the twins weaned just after they turned two I will never breastfeed again (sad and not sad about that) so I can wear dresses whenever I want.

I'm linking to No Big Dill's sewing month challenge - to do something new. When I first read about it I struggled to think of something I hadn't done before - wedding dress(es)? yes. Design and pattern making? yes. Canvas boat cover (with clear plastic zipped door)? yes. Menswear? yes. Historical costumes? yes. Velvet, silk, wool, lace etc etc? yes. Then I realised that I have never made a dress for myself to wear from a pattern schematic of a design by Madeleine Vionnet (one of my design idols). So there's my first!