Monday, December 12, 2011

New dress for MEEEEE!!!!!

When people know that you sew, they give you stuff. The fabric for this dress came from my very lovely Mother In Law (and I'm not just sucking up because I'm going to tell her about this post - she really is fantastic!). She had been given it to find it and some of it's mates a good home. And I took one look at this (70's ?) scenery print on something completely devoid of natural fibre and it screamed MAKE ME INTO BURDA 10/09 #119! (Many many thanks to Sewingelle for pointing out the Burda archives!). So I did.

My trusty assistant overseeing proceedings.

I am really pleased with how this turned out, with the possible exception of where the pleats are released. The fabric is very thin and both it's lack of body and tendency to be see through led me to underline it (in the ubiquitous red lining - the dress looks gold when light shines through it!) and while that is perfect for the rest of the dress it makes the area below the pleats a bit poofy. I am trying to decide whether or not I care. Edgestitching the pleats would flatten them, but I don't want to do that. I also don't want to sharply press them, so I'm wearing it today to see what I think. So far, not bothered.

In addition to underlining it I added 4cm to the length (I hate my knees) and scooped out a chunk of neckline as I'm not a fan of a high neckline on myself. Other than that, straight from the pattern.

So once again a project which wasn't even on the horizon a short time ago is made and being worn. I suspect I have sewing ADD.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Four down...

... four to go. Progress on my latest Alabama Chanin corset top currently stands here.

I would like to finish it by Christmas, but I keep getting side tracked by the urgent need to make things like this:
Owl from here. (I saw an owl ornament somewhere with antlers, so naturally added them to mine.) Fox very liberally adapted from here. Star from a magazine. Bird from several places.

Oh, and Cayden needs some clothes. I've also photographed his bass (front and back) which I'm going to print out and laminate so mini Cayden has real Cayden's actual bass! I really do amuse myself. The idea and tutorial which I've adapted for this is from the brilliant Jodie of Ric Rac. (The tutorial is on her sidebar)

Some of the mouse family need clothes too, and they need a house.

At least the advent calendar is pretty much ready to go. I just need to apply the embellishments, some sewn and some (eep!) glued. I'm avoiding having to glue stuff.

Christmas is less than a month away. No pressure then.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My turn,my turn!

As is so typical for me, this isn't one of the umpteen trillion queued projects waiting to make it to the head of the list. A few days ago it wasn't on the horizon, and here it is already finished.

I was looking for a different pattern (which I found) and this one was in the same box. I'd traced it from a Burda mag I borrowed from the library and forgotten it! I knew immediately that my dear friend J would love it too (we have very similar taste, so she's hugely fun to shop with!) and I excitedly tried to find it on the Burda archives to email her a pic. They only go back two years, so no luck for her, or to link to here. (I had to get it from the stacks at the library so I can trace one in J's size). For the record, it's Burda 02/2009, #129.

This is unusual for me, as I'm not a frilly, bow-y person, but this spoke to me. The fabric is a mystery synthetic intended for something else but willingly sacrificed for a wearable muslin. I'm very happy with the fit, but next time I'll spend more time on the front neckline to snug it it a bit. I did have to chop 10cm out of the neckline elastic (I hate unpicking three-step zigzag) and the sleeve elastic is a tad snug, but bearable.

Verdict: Broke the drought and scored a win!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Actual garment sewing. Just not for me.

When inspiration strikes I've learned to just go with it. That was the case with this - three remnant pieces of broderie anglais edged dobby voile. It jumped up and down and told me it'd be perfect made as the Oliver + S ruffled halter. (Available as a free download here).

The broderie edges are on the top ruffle, bottom ruffle, and back. (Trying to photograph a three year old is challenging enough without worrying about actually showing the details!).

Speaking of the back, I'm not a fan of halters for kids because they seldom sit nicely so I made this more like pillowcase style by making the back from the same pattern piece as the front and cutting a facing to match.
Isabella is gratifyingly pleased with it, and when I showed it to her delightedly squealed "You made a pretty top for MEEE!!!". Her training is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Keely, this is your fault

Well, yours and Lara's for getting to craft night and asking me if I knew how to crochet a granny square. And then if I could show you. The feel of hook in hand after quite a few years got me inspired to make the crochet roses I've been pinning.

My first attempt. Slightly more open than the original, and it looks pretty naff in variegated acrylic, but you can bet your life there will be more, in the pretty pink yarn I have lying around waiting for a project. And I have three more patterns on my desk to try as well. Because I have sooooooooo much spare time and need another hobby. Thanks ladies!

And on the subject of pinning, Georgia absolutely loved this penguin and made these three all by herself. She's going to make one for each of the family to put on the tree this year.

This weekend we're having the neighbourhood girls over to make felt ornaments as a group. I sincerely can't wait - indoctrinating the next generation in the ways of making stuff.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No excuses!

So a few weeks ago I took up running again, after about a twenty year lay off. I'd given up because it became inconvenient, rather than due to injury or hating it! Hugely inspired by my fabulous friend J, who has dedicated herself this year to her health and getting fit. Running a half marathon fit. I go to the gym regularly, but don't do a lot of cardiovascular exercise, so decided to start running. Which of course required appropriate kit. After buying good shoes I only needed a sweatshirt/jacket for the days I walk the twins to kindy and then run from there, or when it's cooler. (I live in Dunedin. Cooler is always a distinct possibility.) So I made this. I call it the No Excuses jacket because it's function is to prevent me from having an excuse not to go! It's Jalie 2795, made from cotton sweatshirting.

It's perfect - nice long sleeves to keep my wrists warm, a hood that sits nice and flat, close fit through the body so I don't have excess fabric bunching around the place, room through the chest/shoulders for a complete range of motion swinging my arms. The only change I made to the pattern was to add a zip to one pocket so I can take my phone and house key without worrying about losing them. I've worn it twice, and it works really really well.

Progress on the latest Alabama Chanin corset top is slow, as expected, but steady. I've got this far so far.

And I've still got an increasingly worried eye on Christmas. Mostly because a so-called friend helpfully reminded me that I needed the advent calendar by December 1. Which is not that far away! And Cayden (for whom I'm making a doll of himself) has only a couple of weeks left of school, after which it'll be harder to work on anything I don't want him to see. So today I made a trial version, using one of the failed photo printing efforts. To very simply transfer my sewing line to the fabric I just pinned a paper copy of it to two layers of fabric, lining up the face, and sewed through the paper. Afterwards I just had to tear it out - easy!
Trimmed and turned through he looks like this:
I'm pretty satisfied with that, so now I can make the real one and stuff him. Which I'm going to enjoy. Then make him some clothes.

And the advent calendar now has pockets. Some finished, some still needing fused appliques to be stitched down.

So yeah, been doing stuff.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In the meantime....

So far the first (of eight) pieces looks like this:

So in complete contrast to a very very long slow project is this - cut out a week or two ago, but sewn together last night and this afternoon.

Front, collar and sleeves: Jalie 2919. (And my assistant. Can't do much without his input.)

Back: Vogue 1061.
Nothing wrong with either pattern as they stood, but I never wore my Vogue one - turns out I don't like cardigans which can only be worn closed. I gave it to a friend, who looks a lot better in it than I did anyway, so we're both happy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It came to me in a dream

Almost literally. At craft night last night I got the typical hard time for scarcity of posting, and I cited my typical queue of projects awaiting thread, interfacing or something. One of the projects was this one - awaiting inspiration. My third Alabama Chanin corset top. I found some cotton T shirts on sale in Kmart for $2 each a few weeks ago and got a couple to use as the basis for the top. The thought of white on white has been percolating for a while, and I had a rose stencil chosen, but I wasn't sure how to proceed. I didn't really want to follow the freezer paper and paint route because I didn't want to introduce another colour. One idea I'd had was this - draw on the roses with a water soluble pen which I could subsequently wash out.

And last night I dreamed vividly that this is exactly what I did, and stitched in white. Oh, and in my dream there were some beads too. So of course this morning as soon as I could I got to work. Another eighty hour top. I really like the idea of some beading. I still have some of the beads from my wedding dress left over....

Ok girls - can you guess what'll be coming to the next few craft nights with me? (As long as I get more thread)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Modern Pattern Design PDF

They say it's not what you know, but who you know, and that is so true! Keely sent me a text alerting me to Pam's blog, which had a link to Michou's blog, in which she has made available a downloadable pdf of Harriet Pepin's highly regarded 1942 book "Modern Pattern Design". Since I'd spent a bit of time enjoying it on Vintage Sewing Info before that site sadly vanished, I was delighted, and raced off to acquire my copy. (THANK YOU MICHOU!)

Sadly for me the chapter on childrens wear was not included, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered seeing a link on a blog somewhere at some point in the past in which the author had found the Vintage Sewing Info site using a search engine which finds pages as they appeared at some point in the past. (It's called Wayback but that didn't pop back into the memory, as I had never heard of it previously). A minute or two with google popped up Magdamagda Design Studio and her post on the subject. And here is the whole book. Et Voila - I had all the information again!

I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have pointed to these resources, which are fantastic. I love the internet.

And because I prefer posts with photos I'll end with this extremely blurry shot of Nicholas. He had gone into the kitchen and was suspiciously quiet. Upon investigation I found this - he had got the bowl from the cupboard, milk from the fridge, poured it and put the bottle back (lid on and everything) and got a couple of biscuits which he was happily stirring with a spoon. Apparently he was making a pikelet sandwich.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Since June?! Really?

I got an email from the shop where I have my designs on consignment suggesting suppliers might like to think about spring/summer stock because it's about to be cruise ship season. Good idea I thought, and got sewing. After completing a dress and getting out my tally list I discovered that it was the first garment I've made since JUNE! (And there was only one that month). I guess my winter apathy is worse than I thought! Anyway I've been sewing up a storm for a couple of weeks and yesterday delivered all of these to Little Chalmers.

Well, this one was all done but for the buttons for probably about a year. I was terrified of mangling a buttonhole on the satin and ruining the whole thing. Naturally once I got started the Greist (buttonholer) behaved perfectly, as always, and everything is fine. I feel like an idiot for worrying. Nothing new there.

Fairies. I actually designed the fairies myself by manipulating croquis and wings. I really like them, so I hope some little girl sees them and begs her Mum to buy the fairy dress. (I originally made this design for Isabella to try out the back fastening and V front and back. She's been wearing that dress for almost a year and it's been great, so I'll call that trial a success!)

This is New Zealand. Silver ferns are pretty much mandatory.


I really like the colour combo and spot applique on this dress. The idea for that came to me when I was lying in bed one night and I was terrified that I'd forget it by morning! Obviously, I didn't. The butterflies in the dress above are the same tecnique, but I think it's less successful with the gingham. I'll do it again though!

Now I have all that out of the way I really should get on with one of the seventy squintillion projects in various stages of planning for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just crafty type stuff.

My real-life friends have been giving me increasingly pointed reminders lately that I haven't updated my blog for a very long time. Basically because I haven't got anything to show - I hate winter and find my motivation to sew always vanishes. I also invariably put on a few kgs over winter and don't want to sew for myself when I'm fat. I always lose the extra in summer, and then want to sew. The fact that I live in the same boring clothes because I'm not motivated to make new ones doesn't really help my enthusiasm for life either. Maybe I should make my winter clothes in summer?

Anyway, what I do like to do in winter is craft sewing. I like to claim that my English heritage is what makes me so enamoured of winter Christmases, but I think it's actually because just about all the movies and tv programmes which feature Christmas are set in the northern hemisphere! I've been meaning to make a new advent calendar for years, and this is the year I start. So far it looks like this:

Based on a design from a Homespun magazine, with houses and sleigh from a variety of Homespun and Handmade magazines. Most of the applique is done, but there will be a lot of embellishment added! I like Christmas to look festive.

I've also started another project in my quest to have as much of a handmade Christmas as possible. I absolutely L.O.V.E.D this project by the inimitable Jodie of Ric Rac. Having a teenage son in a band myself, it just cried out to be made. Following this brilliant tutorial on Dolls and Daydreams (which I linked to before, but didn't credit, for which I apologise. Thank you Sarah!) I printed this photo of Cayden's head onto fabric.

That was the third attempt. I had a lot of problems getting the fabric to feed through the printer due to it rolling at the sides, and after a couple of paper jams which had me fearing each time that I'd stuffed my printer I did get it printed, only to have this happen when I put it into the vinegar to set:
And that happened twice - I thought I hadn't given it long enough to dry before the vinegar soak so left it overnight the second time, but got the same result. Then I wondered if it had printed in colour even though it looks black and white, and when I checked it in photoshop that was indeed the case, so I changed it to greyscale and this time it worked! A small amount of ink did shed when I put it in the vinegar, but it was only a tiny bit and the photo is fine. Can't wait to make a teeny tiny Cayden. Hopefully he thinks it's funny.

This last photo is for J, who set me the homework of sewing the button on this cardigan for Isabella a couple of craft nights ago. Just to prove I DID do it! Isabella loves her cardigan and chooses to wear it at every opportunity.
She really is the happiest child in the world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Returning to our regularly scheduled programme.

I know I said I was going to make myself a dress, but then I was idly surfing the web (as you do) and found a link to Your Style Rocks latest free pattern. And it jumped up and yelled at me to be downloaded and made NOW PLEASE! (The pattern intrigues me - separate upper and under collar pieces allowing for turn of cloth, separate lining patterns, interfacing extensively indicated, differing seam allowances for different seam types - I hardly knew what I'd struck!)

I checked their measurement chart and decided that a size 10 should fit my bust, but I would probably need some extra room over the hips. And I wanted to add a chunk to the back so that it is a racer back rather than halter, so I needed to toile it. (After spending a very long time taping the 56 pages together section by section because I don't have room for the whole thing in one place, and tracing the pattern). Once again in the bargain red lining, of which I still have a considerable amount.

I used the left front twice rather than the asymmetrically pleated right front since I was only interested in the fit. To my surprise, I don't need to add any extra to the hips. That made me feel good! I'm not 100% sure about the bust princess seam, but I suspect most of the (not very serious) problem I saw on me was due to this being flimsy unsupported lining.

To work out how much to add to the back I just pinned a chunk of fabric to the back panels and the collar,
And cut away what I didn't want. (I've now added half that shape to the centre back panel pattern piece)

I'm now ready to actually make this, if only I could decide which fabric to use.....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

People who make cheeky comments about glue...

...get presents like this for their birthday.

My dear friend J is the glue queen. There is no problem she isn't convinced could not be fixed with glue. (I'm sure she feels that World Peace could be achieved if only we all used more glue). Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago and last night we went out to mark the occasion. Several days ago I'd discovered that Urban Threads sells hand embroidery patterns for download (reason #2,847,486,844 to love the internet) and I found this one. It made me laugh, so I bought it to make for J in every shade of pink. I even did a properly mitred quilt binding, which gave M the opportunity to give me a hard time about not squaring it before binding, about which we'd had a knock-down drag-out hair-pulling cat fight, I mean 'spirited debate', at craft night recently.

On a topic other than craft sewing, I think it's well past time I shook off the winter blahs and made myself a new dress. I have fabric in mind for the woven Pattern Magic top I started working on a while back and I think I know how I'm going to put a skirt on it. Now, how long till the kids go back to school?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Evidence that I am also a slow learner

I took the teeny soggy bunny (and this toy to work on) to Monday's craft night, and my so-called friends laughed to my face at the incontrovertible proof of my insanity. Thanks for that girls!

Despite their derision (or probably because of it) I forged ahead anyway. (Only 13 pieces for this toy!) Only to have this toy look like a deer (according to the teenager) when the ears were attached. I generally find that if I stare blankly at a problem for long enough a solution will present itself, and this time it was to undo the ears (which were folded and inserted into slits on the head and stuck pretty much straight up) and sew them on as flaps. I think I'll round off the points a little, but at least this time Nicholas could identify the species when I showed him! I'm not particularly happy with the back of the head, but to redo it means cutting new main body pieces and if I'm going to do that I might as well just make a whole new dog. Well girls, guess what I'm bringing next craft night?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Further proof that I need my head read

Exhibit #435, a teeny copy of Isabella's favourite soft toy, Soggy Bunny. Approximately 6.5cm tall, comprising 14 separate parts.

Nicholas reckoned that he and Isabella need their whole family represented in mouse form for their Christmas present. Fair enough, I can do that. (Currently six down, one to go, plus wardrobe, plus house.....) Then Georgia thought it'd be great if Isabella Mouse had a tiny Soggy Bunny of her own. So I thought - "Yeah, I can do that!" and dug out Bean Bag Buddies, (which is a great book!) and found a suitable rabbit pattern. Traced it for ease of scanning, and used the computer to reduce it to 20% of it's original size and made it out of felt. 14 teeny weeny pieces of felt. And now I'm thinking that Nicholas Mouse might need a soft toy too. Good thing Christmas is months away because this project might not ever get finished.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pretty dress for someone else

I love making pretty dresses for other people. I like making pretty dresses, but there is very little call for a formal, strapless, ruched chiffon bodiced dress when dealing daily with two three year olds, so I don't make many for myself, funnily enough. (Not that I've ever worn a strapless dress myself anyway). Fortunately every so often I get a call from someone who was given my name by a friend for whom I made something once, and I get to make something pretty.

Note to self: Don't try to photograph flowy skirted dresses outside if there is even a breath of wind. It doesn't look blown about, but the skirt is wonky in this shot compared to the last one, and this was the best one!
I was going to document the construction a bit more thoroughly, but the teenager borrowed the camera batteries, the 11 year old had flattened the batteries first, and I just ran out of oomph on that idea, and much of it was sewn in the evenings when photography is difficult anyway so these two are all I have.

Bodice with ruched overlayer:
With empire band:
The dress has a separate boned corsolette with waist stay, and the dress itself is only joined at the top edge. I love this technique for strapless dresses - they STAY PUT and hang smoothly. This dress is the for teenage daughter of a teacher from Oliver's school (who was given my name by the secretary who was given it by one of the kids' teachers) for her school formal. She brought me a picture and I modified a Burda magazine pattern which is how I create almost all patterns for adults. So much easier than drafting from scratch!

Now back to the mischief of mice. (Apparently the collective nouns "horde" and "nest" are also applicable, but with a son like Nicholas "mischief" seems eminently more appropriate!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting a head start

So last year I made Nicholas and Isabella fabric activity books for Christmas. They were a great success, and I absolutely loved making them (and LOVE seeing the twins playing with them), so decided that I really should do more of this sort of thing. I was going to make an adorable mouse family and house for Isabella for her birthday, but, um, didn't get around to it. So right after their birthday I figured that it'd be great to make for Christmas, and if I start now I should get it all done with months to spare to make other presents. Good plan!

Here's prototype #1 for the mice. Cheap black acrylic craft felt, all hand blanket stitched. (Much easier with small fiddly pieces).

He (no idea why he's a he, but I'm certain that he is. Till I make "him" a dress) has his feet on the issue of Homespun from which part one (of two) the pattern is taken. (Issue #89, Vol 11.10, in case anyone wants to know). Designed by Rosalie Quinlan, the project has a family of four mice and their house as a carry case. This mouse, um, isn't one of them. The head comes from a Handmade magazine from at least ten years ago, and the body I think I drafted myself. I did use Rosalie's limbs. I seem to be incapable of using pretty much any pattern as the designer intended.

I expected this guy to be prototype #1 - ie, that more prototypes would follow before I splash out on nice wool felt to make the real ones, but I'm really really pleased with how he turned out, so he may end up being part of the family! I fancy shades of grey. (Georgia wants a purple one. Which I think I'll make her)

As before I'm not making any attempt to hide the making from the twins, and Nicholas has been fascinated by me making a mouse. This may well end up being a shared gift - the bane of twin childhood!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Demand A Recount!!!

According to the calendar today is the twins' third birthday. It can't be three years since they made their seven-weeks-early entry into the world!

It is incredibly hard to get two three year olds to cooperate for a photo intended to showcase their new clothes.
Isabella's dress is the one I made a couple of months ago and wasn't happy with. Yesterday I suddenly thought that adding godets would provide the needed fullness, and sat up feverishly sewing till after 11.30pm to finish it. It wouldn't have been so late if I hadn't also had to sew a new shirt for Nicholas. He has seen the robot stencil appliques I've put on other things and rather plaintively asked "My ah-but?". So I made him an ah-but shirt of his own. I also made him new trousers. (I only had the hems and elastic to do on those yesterday though). He chose the dragon applique and when shown them yesterday afternoon insisted on putting them on immediately. (The gigantic sweatshirt is the one he wore home from kindy after playing very enthusiastically with the water table).
Just as well I took the pic as soon as he put them on because about 30 minutes later I was reminded that small boys who are not long potty trained shouldn't be put into new trousers which you want them to wear the next day.
I love this stretch corduroy but my overlocker hates it so I had to zig zag the seam allowances. Thank goodness for my walking foot!