Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Issy's Oliver + S Seashore Sundress

I must be getting ready for summer, as this is yet another dress for Issy finished off and happily received :)

Sadly it's a bit creased, though that kind of made me happy as it was that way because she wore it all day and didn't want to take it off.  Not only is that great because it means she liked it, but also super because it was nice and warm here today; so it's a happy situation both ways!

I cut a size 7, which is by measurement too large for her in length and hips, about right in the chest and slightly small on the tummy.  The issue with having ginormous kids like mine is that she still has the characteristics of almost the toddler shape (like the sticky out tummy) a bit, but clothes aren't cut that way for 7 year olds.  I guess that's where making your own comes in!!!  Anyway, I didn't alter it in the end as the length seems nice and there is plenty of room to move in it, without it seeming overly large, as evidenced by all the running around:

Happiness is...

I have various comments about this pattern.  On the plus side, it was super quick to make, easy to follow and is a lovely pattern.  I like that it's a bit different and also the construction of the pockets was particularly cute.  As you can see I added contrasting panels down the sides but it would still look great all in the one fabric.  I used self-covered buttons for the straps.

On the down side, there were three main things I would change:

  1. The straps seem really short by comparison to the remainder of the sizing.  This is an issue someone else had about a different Oliver + S pattern so I think it might be a general problem with all their patterns.  I have shoulders more suited to an American Football player than a female so we may have to do some adjusting as I think Issy is close to me in build :(
  2. I am not sure why patterns like this never use things like french seams inside instead of overlocking / zig zagging.  I have an overlock stitch on my normal sewing machine (I LOVE my machine) and so this doesn't really bother me, but it's nice and neat and easily incorporated.  I of course didn't think of this until after but when I make this again I will try and work them in.
  3. The fabric allowance was way over generous.  I got a fair bit less than specified and modified the cutting layout significantly.  The layout seemed to be to fold the fabric in half and plonk whatever you need onto the fold, put the rest in the gaps and just buy as much as the total combined length of the bits which need to be cut on the fold.  Some of the pieces which need to be cut on the fold are pretty narrow so I folded the selvedges into the middle to offer two cutting folds on the same length rather than one.  My fabric had direction so I had to be careful to ensure I still cut accordingly but that just needed checking and thought.  Even though I bought less fabric than asked for I had heaps and heaps left over.  Not that I won't use it but lesson learned...
I always feel like I harp more on the negative when talking patterns but I think you don't "notice" good pattern writing as much as the bad; you just make the thing easily and quickly and spend your time admiring your own cleverness...

All up I was really happy with this pattern and now I know the above 3 things I will adjust accordingly.  The pattern goes to size 12 so this will definitely be back again for next year and maybe also as a present for someone else too.  As I mentioned, madam is pleased and I love the main fabric which is Pinfeathers (by Carina Gardner for Northcott Fabrics).  I have ordered the Oliver + S book so if it ever arrives I might make the little hat in the same fabric...

I leave you with madam posing in the garden:

Not sure what is going on here...looks like YMCA but that seems unlikely...

Happy twirling nearly-summer!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Issy's Dress - a made up pattern...

This last month has seen me achieve my holy grail of sewing not once, but twice!  One was the modified Vogue 1250 to make a top out of a dress pattern and other is Issy's dress which was made up completely by me (based on an existing dress but still...).  It's starting to feel like I have control in sewing and can understand where a pattern is taking me, or how to make a particular thing I would like.  As a non-standard size and shape this has been my nirvana for a while, so am quite pleased with myself even though these are baby steps!

Without further ado...this is Issy's dress (and Issy in it...)

Apologies for the terribly awful blinds backdrop - it was late and so outside wasn't an option...

It is an extremely simple T-shirt type of dress (made in a woven from Prints Charming I think) with elastic in a channel around the waist and also around the neckline.  I loved the dress this was based on (not pictured, will try and snap one next time it's on her) for it's simplicity and as a vehicle for a nice fabric.  I think I did well here in that regard.

Here is close-up which better shows the neck elastic.  I think I will use a softer elastic for the neckline next time - to help the drape.  The original was a much thinner Japanese type of woven which reduced bulkiness.  

 And here is my little model getting carried away and being silly - she really seems to like this dress!

I think her main criteria (beyond pink, sparkly, fairy and ballerina-y) is that it is comfortable.  She prefers leggings to jeans and would probably be happiest running about in the nud if it wasn't cold!  This dress fits the bill.  I am going to try one for me (maybe) in a light chambray I have already.  I thought about maybe doing the elastic channel in a contrasting colour such as red (in this dress it is just part of the top folded over but there's no reason it couldn't be a separate joining piece between the top and bottom...).  Maybe even with overlocked hems instead of rolled also in red thread?

I leave you with the best picture I took, as she looks so gorgeous.  Not showing much of the dress though...

Sunday, September 11, 2011


As previously posts attest, I have a bit of a weakness for Amigurumi.  Specifically I seem to be working my way through the Amigurumi (Cozy) book by Lan-Anh Bui and Josephine Wan.  My friend's little girl (and my little girl's bestie) was visiting recently and I told her she could choose something from it and I would make it for her.  I was 100% sure she would pick the Ballerina Bunny (and she did) but she also came up with the fabulous idea that I should make three of them - one for her, one for her newborn little sister and one for my little girl.  The fabulous bit of that sentence is only half sarcastic - it is a lovely thing to do and these toys look super cute in bunches (or bundles?) as evidenced by the monkeys...So as demanded, I made three:

As you can see I haven't quite got the hang of faces - they are totally the hardest bit!  The first one I made is (obviously) in the middle, so at least I can say I got better with practice!  Here is a close up of the one with the nicest face:

And a close up of the tutus which were very cute :)

And the lovely ladies with their bunnies.  My daughter (left) hasn't stopped carrying hers around yet which is gratifying, and my friend reports the same for her daughter.

Then the girls realised who was really the cute thing in their midst and paid Ava the attention she deserved...

So much gorgeousness!  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Cell Phone Wallet

I love the idea of the Valori Wells sewing cards - so simple and cute.  I got the Birds Eye View Quilt one which I haven't made yet and also the Little Cell Phone Wallet which I whipped up the other day.

I love it!  I made it from a Duckcloth linen (I think...its certainly heavier than the normal quilting cotton I use) piece which I picked up at the craft fair this year.  They had a basket of remnants and offcuts which were all $4 or $8 depending on size.  I also got the webbing for the strap at the fair - we don't get a big range of that sort thing down here and am now seriously wishing I had bought a lot more...

The sewing card picture uses various different fabrics inside and out, but I wanted to keep it simple and just use the (lovely) one I had.  

I absolutely love the final product.  Am thinking of sending it to my sister for her birthday but I kind of don't want to (I want to keep it for me!!!).  However, I should probably be a bit more objective and review the pattern rather than just raving about the finished product (have I mentioned I love it?!!).  So here goes with a bit of a review:

The pattern cards are a great idea, but the Little Cell Phone wallet has a few omissions / areas where it could be improved.  Firstly, the attachment of the straps was a little unclear to me.  As the picture below shows, they are attached to the back pocket.  I have done a fair bit of sewing and so didn't fall into the trap of attaching them too close to the edge, but I think someone who hadn't done a lot of this sort of thing might.   I think including their placement on the card diagrams might have been a good idea... 

Similarly the instructions for attaching the magnetic snaps are awful.  Well maybe not awful, because she doesn't know which kind you would buy, but perhaps in the wrong place.  You get right to the end of the instructions and it says "attach the snaps...according to the manufacturers directions".  I read all the way through and realised I needed to deal with snaps a lot earlier than this but a novice sewist might be a bit stumped about when to do these things.  My snaps are the ones with prongs on the back which you insert from the right side to the wrong side (preferably on a piece of fabric which is interfaced or at least has been reinforced at the point where you add a snap with an appropriately sized square of interfacing).  You then put a washer over the prongs and push them down to lock the snap in place.  How anyone could even try and do this once the thing was sewn together I don't know.  I realise there would be other types of snaps which might be sew on once finished, but perhaps a note a the start about deciding when this should happen and about trying to use the interfaced piece where possible would be of benefit.

Another issue is that my cellphone doesn't actually fit...I can't blame a pattern designer for having a largeish phone, though I don't think an iPhone will fit either, and they are pretty common.  It does fit on the inside biggest pocket so that's no drama, though perhaps a note about measuring things and advice on extending them would be good.  Not sure how you would fit that on a card though :)

I think I might modify this design a bit to have a zip pocket on the back for change and then keep the phone inside, or perhaps lengthen the back pocket and therefore the overall length.  A few other issues as follows:
  • I had to adjust the snap placement as they would have been way to close to the top / bottom of pieces for me to easily sew the seam (not an issue if attaching at the end...) and also for the top stitching to occur (see below).
  • The picture on the card shows the pockets inside are top stitched about 1/8th inch from the top edge.  This isn't included in the instructions except for the back pocket, but I think that's just an instructions sequencing issue.
  • This was very tricky to turn and you had to be careful to turn at the right point or you ended up with pockets inside and had to do another half turn to make them on the outside (that's probably not clear in words).  Again no big deal but a newbie might have issues.
So it sounds like I am totally bagging the pattern out but on the whole I enjoyed making it, I love the end result and I was easily able to adjust as necessary for the stuff I have noted above.  It was super quick to make and pretty simple once you read the instructions a few times to make sure you understood how the layering thing worked.  It is a total contradiction to what I have said above, but the simplicity of this was great - a lot of bag patterns are soooo unnecessarily complicated and take ridiculously long to make.  I get that some of the things I have mentioned here are not explained in great detail to achieve this simplicity and fit the thing on a's just observations I have about it really :)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

When my daughter (now 4) and her friend Jonas from Mother's Group turned two I made them both a SB quilt from the Hungry Caterpillar Range (Eric Carle for Andover).  They both liked the book and the fabric range was gorgeous.

Fast forward a few years and my son is about to turn two and his friend Reuben (Jonas' little brother) is also hitting the big 0-2 (good timing for my friend and I!).  I saw the Brown Bear fabric range (more Eric Carle) and decided to use that for their quilt.  That way the quilts are complementary rather than matchy matchy - they would look great on bunk beds I think.  Reuben turned two a few weeks ago so I gave him this:

When I made the HC versions I made a single bed size, according to the old fashioned measuring scale where the quilt hangs down virtually to the floor on both sides (or gets tucked in) and covers the pillow and tucks under the end.  This time I decided to go much smaller (as when they are still quite little like this the bigger SB quilts are very unweildy and end up folded in half) and added in a contrasting pillow case.  So for Reuben his quilt is blue with a red pillow, and for Marcus I have reversed the colours (pics later when it's finished!).

A close-up of the quilt...

And of the (badly ironed) pillow case.

A picture to show the strip across the back.  I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with this fabric range when it arrived.  The HC range came with a panel which was really a panel (see below; the panel has the leafe, butterfly and caterpillar on it)  - this range came with something advertised as a panel but which was really just a piece of fabric cut off from the fabric made up of a lots of discrete squares bordered in green (which I used along the bottom above the stripey border).  Sadly because the fabric was continuous the cut off bit would have lost the green border top and bottom in seam allowances if you used the piece as a "panel" which is how it was touted.  So I made something up which was more based around the white fabric with the coloured animals on.  I was pleased with the result but it's quite different to the hungry caterpillar quilt (see below).

Additionally, some of the fabric range just didn't seem to match the others.  There were some which were the more solid, scribbly colours (like the purple in the HC quilt above) which were just horrible colours.  They didn't seem to even really match the animals, so I left them out and will use them for muslin making or similar!

All up though I was happy with the quilts and pillowcases I made, and even got a bit nicer about presentation and tied them up in a bundle with some left over binding strip.

Better finish the other one before Mr M's birthday so I can post that too...