Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another little bib

This is kind of an adjunct to the bag post.  The young lady for whom the bag was made is big sister to Ava, for whom I have previously made some bibs (apparently unblogged...).

I had some trim left over and had already made her a bib out of some soft flannel (an upcycled pillowcase) with  flowers on it that I hadn't gotten around to giving to her mum yet.


Again, I sewed this on with a honeycomb stitch and while it looks coloured, the little discs are really  more see through in real life.


Before anyone points it out...those beads are probably a choking hazard.  I thought I would point out to her mum that this is a "show bib" for the birthday only - she can have a picture with her sister holding the bag or similar and then they can be cut off immediately leaving a nice ribbon / honeycomb trim :)

For good measure - here are some of the other bibs I made her:


A Valori Wells (I think?) flannel with contrasting heart applique


And another pink with contrasting blue.  I can't remember the name of this range, though it annoys me every time I see this picture that the two fabrics are going in different directions (sorry if you hadn't yet noticed but now can't stop seeing it!).

And finally, another from the soft floral flannel pillowcase, modeled by the little lady in question (this is the reverse of the pillow case - tan on white):


Yes, I put pintucks on a bib :)

Tutu Bag

One of my little girl's best friends is turning five next week.  She is a very (very) girlie girl and they enjoy dancing and pretending to be ballerina fairy princesses together (no idea where she gets that from!).

I have had this free pattern (the link to the free pattern google doc from vintagericrac is here) sitting ready to make for a while.  Originally I planned to make it for Issy's 5th birthday in May but I saw it there last week and spur of the moment decided to make it for Bella.  I might still make it for Issy too, as she has already asked for one about a million times!

Here is my version of the tutu bag:


The bag is made entirely from my stash of somewhat grotesque fabrics which the less discerning ballet-obsessed five year old would love.  My friend donated most of this to me I think...the outside is pink ballet slippers on a sugar pink background.  The lining (not shown because I am useless at taking pictures) is a creamy coloured background with a sort of flowery ribbon motif on it.  The straps are darker pink with ribbons on.  I think the three fabrics are all part of the same range. 


The skirt is made of some pink bridal tulle which I had in my stash (there is a sentence I never thought I would type!).  The pattern specified a particular dimension of tulle and I modified this slightly to be around the same length but I think there is an extra layer in there to add extra pouf.  While I followed the pattern and  constructed the bag and then hand sewed the skirt on, I am not seeing any reason that I couldn't machine sew this on after making the main bag but before sewing the lining onto the bag.  The main bag and lining are sewn together with the bag inside the lining, so perhaps the skirt would add too much bulk for it all to fit inside and allow me to sew around the top?  I will nonetheless try it next time (and report back).  I will also add an internal pocket onto the lining before adding it to the bag next time I think (for the precious gems!).


The trim is an addition of my own (the pattern has a diamante button under the V, which I didn't have).  I had this trim sitting in the box from when someone had a sale on somewhere (it was a dollar) and it looked like the perfect gilding on the rather pink frilly lily.  It looks coloured in these pictures but in fact is kind of see through sequin things at the bottom of the beads.  I used a honeycomb stitch on my machine to hold it in place and stop the top edge rolling over where it curves (this is ribbon not bias so less suited to the curvy bits).  I actually quick like the honeycomb and would use it again elsewhere.  


 So there is the beautifully girlie tutu bag - I hope the young lady in question likes it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ultimate Mum Action - School Trousers

So this week was a biggie in our house.  Thing One started "big school" on Tuesday :)

This is the first of our kids to start school so we weren't really on the ball with the purchasing of uniform.  Seemingly the done thing is to buy the "branded" or badged items from the uniform shop (polo shirts, hats, rugby top) but to get the shorts / skirts / trousers from somewhere like Target or K-Mart as they are just cotton drill cargo pants or similar anyway.  This means those items sell out pretty quick at the start of the year and there are very few left by February (when I went to look), especially in the smaller sizes.

So...given that I sew I figured I would make them.  Obviously Spotlight was out of cotton drill in navy (they had twill but it seemed too heavy to me).  I ended up getting some navy stretch bengaline (think work pants fabric - lightweight but with some stretch) which should be really comfy for her.  I made the Sewing for Boys suit pants without the cuff and omitting the fake fly.  The pattern is pretty similar to the Mimi's Boy Shorts (see here for discussion of that pattern - much of which applies here, given their similarity in construction and instructions) and it was easy to follow and quick to sew.



I cut a 6 / 7 and the length was good, though I should note I didn't replace the length lost by omitting the cuff.  The width was heaps too much, which points to larger than normal sizing for me (she is usually around this sort of size).  I took a fair bit (possibly as much as 1.5 - 2 inches) out of the side seams, inner seam and around the crotch.  I had to back and forth with construction a bit so she could try them on for sizing so they took longer than they should, though now I know I will make her another pair once the weather starts cooling down and they won't take much time at all.

While Short Stuff has been going to childcare for a long time, this is kindergarten at a different school - different uniform, different kids etc.  I couldn't help myself but add a little touch of Mum love to this rather boring article of clothing :)

So you look inside the pockets and what do you see?  Angelina Ballerina - that's what!




And also inside the waistband for the facing.  Angelina and her best friend Alice, doing cartwheels and twirling ribbons :)



I know this isn't really what school uniform is about, but I figure it won't be very long at all until the sewing of clothes for her is SO uncool.  I hope that doesn't happen but am realistic about the possibility and I know the wheel will turn again at some stage anyway.  A big part of making things for the kids for me is that moment where they see whatever it is and tell you how much they love it - if that isn't happening for a while I can just make stuff for me!!  So I am even more into making it special now, even if it's just the pocket and waist facings :)

Finally, before I can't resist - here she is on the first day. She isn't wearing the pants as it's too hot here still, but they will get a run soon am sure!




How's that for a proud little smile?  You should have seen mine...



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A quilt for my sister-in-law

My sister-in-law has pretty great taste in home decor stuff so I was fairly nervous when I decided to make her a surprise quilt for her birthday.

At the Melbourne craft show (2011) I found this gorgeous screen printed linen from Duckcloth.  




I chose the large scale floral print ("Rose Peacock and Seaweed"), the mergey blobs ("Stoney Peacock"); both shown above, the sticks ("Boardwalk Peacock") and the green and blue dots ("Connect Seaweed on Raw"); both shown below.



I also bought some brown linen from Tessuti in Melbourne and some teal solid cotton from Patchworks in Hobart.  

Initially I struggled with these fabrics more than I thought I would.  I wanted something to echo the randomy placement (technical term there) of the shapes included in the fabric, but that would also how them off to their best advantage.  I wanted one of those super modern bitsy quilts that I love when other people make them, but I really struggled with my inner desires for symmetry and order and matchy matchyness (more technical terms).  Eventually (and with my sister-in-law's birthday looming) I decided on the design below.




I am mostly quite pleased with the end result, though some bits please me more than others.  I enjoyed the process of making it up and it was a good thing as I wasn't sure on the size required - it could have been for a spare double bed or their king size bed so I had to come up with a size which would work in some way on both.  I made it so it would fully cover (but not swamp) the double, or would sit nicely below the pillows on the king.

I was really really pleased with the quilting I decided on - I often just do some stitch in the ditch and then switch to the perle cotton for chunky hand quilting.  This time while I included some hand quilting, I also stepped up the machine quilting a bit with lots and lots (and lots!) of parallel lines, almost all in one direction:




I also did some quilting around the flowers (which isn't really displayed that well by the picture below):




and some running stitch straight (yet randomly offset lines) which are somewhat visible below.  I love how the blue cotton stands out against the brown linen.



I backed with another solid, this time a kind of lighter bluey green (I think it's called seagrass or similar) which looked great with all the quilting on the reverse.  Apparently I only wanted to show you an artsy corner of this...plus a small child's foot which crept into the picture somehow :)


I finished in time for the birthday (not bad going considering my sister's quilt was only finished on 9th December and my sister-in-law's birthday was the 26th January!) and she seemed to really like it.  I haven't been over there recently but my mother-in-law reports it is on display on their couch in the living room.  I expected this to grace their spare bed (or maybe their bed) so to have it in the more public bit of their house is a pretty great compliment.

Onto birthday quilt 3 - hopefully in time for early March!



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PJs and Shorts - pattern comparison

This is a couple of things I made around Christmas time that I haven't got around to posting yet.  I was going to call this "Things I haven't got around to posting yet #5" but you can only take so much of that sort of thing :)  Plus I don't ever seem to post things promptly so technically all my posts could be those...

Anyway!  I have a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy.  I have therefore more recently invested in boy type patterns and have been trying to redress the balance in terms of sewing nice things for both of them.  I have found a dearth of cute boy projects (free or otherwise) out there - when compared to the wealth of girl stuff; as noted recently on handmadebyalissa here and in various other places too.

Just before Christmas I sewed a pair of PJ pants for my nine year old nephew and a pair of shorts for my two year old son in quick succession.  For both items I used a shorts pattern and I just lengthened them to full length for the PJs.  The PJs were the Oliver + S Sketchbook Shorts and the shorts were the Sewing for Boys Mimi's Boy shorts, without the suspenders.

I made the Sketchbook shorts first.  Here is the super cute picture on the front, though my nephew is a little older than this!



I had the 5 - 12 pattern and based on his measurements I cut a size 8, with custom length as appropriate for his legs.  I just measured from the waistband down to the length my sister sent me for his waist - ankle measurement (they live overseas) and then added a bit for a hem (an inch or so).  I then just traced the pattern down to that point - most PJs don't narrow especially much between knee and ankle, so there wasn't  much to do here but draw a fairly straight line down to lengthen them to trousers.  I made them out of some blue striped flannel I had which I think is part of the Valori Wells Bliss range.


Instead of the elastic between the two front pleats I decided to run the casing all the way around to about 1 inch either side of the front seam.  I then made a tie out of a strip of the flannel.  I cut a strip 2 inches wide and about 4 - 5 inches long, fold in half and press, unfold, fold raw long edges into the centre crease, then fold in half again, enclosing the raw edges.  Stitch up the edge to form the tie which will be a 1/2 inch seam.  I then sewed one end to some elastic, threaded that through the casing and worked out roughly how long it needed to be to bring in the waist.  I then cut the elastic to size and sewed the other tie to the other end.  I made sure the ties were long enough both to be pulled fairly long without exposing the elastic and also were long enough to tie a reasonable bow.  You could still measure the elastic more precisely and sew it into place, but that would make the ties mostly cosmetic which would annoy me.

The pattern itself was mostly well written and easy to follow.  I particularly liked the advice re whether to topstitch depending on fabric type.  I don't like that patterns don't give you advice on elastic length for a particular size.  I understand that it is ideal to measure that on the person (especially for children who can significantly vary in body shape with sticky out tummies and so on) but when you are making it for someone overseas it would be good to have some rough advice on what length of elastic will offer a reasonable fit for a particular waist measurement.

The second pattern was the Mimi's Boy Shorts pattern.  This pattern comes with suspenders in the book, which look cute but didn't seem to suit my little man.  I read the pattern a few times and realised they weren't integral to the shorts holding themselves up, so I just skipped those steps.


I made these in some striped linen I got a remnant from Duckcloth at the Melbourne Craft fair (I think the piece cost me about $6).  I did the waistband facing and pocket linings in a grey linen from Tessuti.  Very posh for a small person!

The construction for these shorts was pretty similar in some ways to the Oliver + S pattern but the pattern seemed easier to follow and more usable somehow.  I think in particular the suggestions on seam finishes were especially helpful - rather than just saying "finish the seam in your preferred method" they usually say something like "we like the hong kong finish" or similar.  This is really helpful for someone who is OK with trying new techniques (particularly when they are well explained / diagrammed as they are in this book) but who doesn't necessarily always have the knowledge to choose a finish.  I can serge/overlock or zig-zag seams easily, I can make a french seam or a turn under and stitch type seam.  What I can't always do is determine which might be best for a particular place in a pattern (i.e. somewhere you might want less bulk or no irritation against the skin or whatever) without having made it before.  By suggesting a particular finish here the writers offer their experience in making these choices.

Here is the dude in the article concerned (the vest is witchery and gorgeous).  This picture doesn't show the shorts that well, but it does show him nicely :)




Interestingly, I am now making a version of the Little Heartbreaker Pants from this book for my daughter's school pants.  The construction is pretty similar to these shorts so it has been nice to almost make them again using a different fabric and a few adjustments of my own.

Of the two I would definitely choose the Sewing for Boys version over the Oliver + S for preference, though I would use both again (and in fact the greatest downside is the small sizing of the Mimi's Boy - they go up to  a size 5, where my O+S pattern is 5 - 12; though I could substitute the larger sizing of the Little Heartbreaker Pants and just make them shorts).





Here are the two boys in their PJs and shorts with their favourite toys :)