29 February 2012

Vibing Mexico in my Tiny Pocket Tank

Hola Chicas. Believe it or not the background you see here is the behind of a cafe in urban Australia, not Guadalajara. Shame! As usually happens around this time of year, I start to pine for exotic places just out of reach. This summer's fantasy destination: Mexico. I don't think we'll be popping off there next week, so for now I will be content living out my wanderlust through sewing. Don't be alarmed if you start seeing posts like 'turn this fantasy destination into an outfit'. 

This little number is the Tiny Pocket Tank pattern by Grainline Studio and its my new go-to summer top. I was pining for tropical fiestas anyway when I grabbed this fabric remnant in a country town thrift store. It's not something I would normally go for but it spoke to me. In Spanish. And said, 'Hola Chica', turn me into a tiny pocket tank'. I couldn't resist the print that's a bit floral, a bit geometric with a dash of aztec. The palette is interesting too; inky purple, bright red and pink.

For a simple floaty summer top, it certainly checks all the criteria in my book: feminine, easy wearing and sturdy enough for kid wrangling. A definite make-again. I'll just be off to make some B-grade tacos.

27 February 2012

Get inspired, Mad Men style.

mad men

Wow Wow WOW... I am in a bit of a flap because Julia bobbin is hosting a Mad Men dress challenge and I guess, maybe, I might...be there with BELLS on! I hope you will join in too. All you need to do to take part is be inspired by Mad Men fashion. We've got until the end of March to make a dress! You might already have a favourite dress from the series? But if you can't choose just one, or like me you're generally just inspired by the wiggle silouette, you can make a dress that captures the essence of Mad Men too. It's that flexible!

Mad Men Challenge Blogger Button

 I thought I'd try the Etsy supplies section for some Mad Men sewing patterns inspiration. This is a good place to look for a replica pattern for a dress from the series, if you've got one in mind. The search returned approx 31 pages of authentic Mad Men potential. It was very hard to be restrained here (my paypal spending is being closely monitored these days) and this is why....

Simplicity 3184 Vintage 60s Deep V Back Cocktail Dress Pattern Size 15 Bust 35
 Vintage Simplicity 3184

Vintage 1950s dress pattern - McCalls 4884 - Bust 34
Vintage McCalls 4884

1960 Misses' Dress With Slim or Pleated Skirt  McCall's 5692  Size 14  Bust 34  Factory Folded
Vintage McCalls 5692
How does one choose just one dress? It was like leaving puppies at the pound. The thinking woman's solution is to buy yourself some more procrastination time and get a few. I show great restraint here and got my mits on the first three. As far as narrowing down further and choosing fabric, I don't quite know where to start...

 Inspired yet? Are you in? I hope so!

19 February 2012

Show-stopper blazer

Hey there! My biggest boy just turned four, which seems to me like a good age for a boy to start sporting a cool blazer. Or at least own one. I've been swooning over cute little boys blazers popping up on Pinterest and looking around for a pattern to match. When I'm looking for new boy sewing inspiration I like to hunt around Etsy. I've haven't been disappointed yet and it's turned up some real goodies, like the Manligans, monkey pants, urban hoodie, kimino hoodie, newsboy cap, pea coat, hooded coat...come to think of it, about the only boys patterns that haven't come from etsy are the Oliver and S patterns. On one such search I came across this Toddler blazer by Melly Sews, and it's cute as punch...

Okay, can you just give me a moment to bask in the glory of my very first, never to be repeated, SINGLE WELT POCKETS!! In case you're skimming over this and missed it...I am a little proud of my SINGLE WELT POCKETS! The pattern doesn't include pockets, and it's certainly not lacking without them, but I really wanted to add something special to the front, since I'd gone to the effort of making piping from the lining fabric. I used this single welt pocket tutorial ( which is great), labored over the instructions and plunged in with no practice run. It was late. I was tired. And the reckless sewer came out. Right now, I'm still not sure what to feel more thrilled about...deciphering the tutorial or the fact that it worked spectacularly! It's definitely given me confidence to try some more 'technical' sewing in the future. Just for fun, of course.

17 February 2012

Violet's market debut

Since this post was very nearly titled 'Violet's Violent End', I thought I'd take her to the market for some sunshine and dumplings to celebrate our sewing triumph. We had a lovely time, V and I, while my bro crept behind the stalls, stalker-style and papped us...

... fondling vegetables....

...playing dress-ups...

...and demolishing dumplings (that's my do not disturb face)

I almost gave up on Colette pattern Violet. Let me see... this was meant to be a muslin for something a bit more exciting, but I hoped it might be a wearable one. I found this great 90's dress at the thrift store with something like New Woman on the tag, and paired it with chambray for a contrasting collar. It all came together beautifully, as you can expect of a Colette pattern. I even combatted the high-ish neckline by taking it in at the waist and sides so it's a slim fit instead of a relaxed (boxy) style. Everything was looking pretty peachy from the front. But when I turned to the side...

...there were giant ripples pooling at the lower back. There's no doubt I have a sway back but so far I've never come face to face with it sewing. Of course I did what any rookie sewer would do and tried to gather the problem area in with elastic. Not only did it do nothing for said ripples, it created more of them, now at the sides. Gah! I turned to my trusty Colette Sewing Handbook for guidance and committed the unmentionable post-finished-garment-sway-back-adjustment! Basically, I pinched two inches of fabric out, sewed a curved line across and by some miracle my crime against sewing is camouflaged by the pink stripe in the center back. YES!! Another lucky sewing break.

The pattern is now fitted with a proper sway back adjustment ready for V no.2. It was just so fun and cutesy to wear that I think I wouldn't mind a few of these gals in my hand-made wardrobe.

10 February 2012

Tigerlily Maxi

Australian fashion label Tigerlily are pretty much as 'Aussie' as backyard bbq's. They make beautiful, slightly exy swim-wear and clothing that I used to pine for seasonally, in my pre-diy era. I am blown away that a new fabric store in town (The Fabric Store) are stocking the exact Tigerlily fabrics from their collections...by the yard! This seems kind of unusual, but complain I did not. Grab the bolt, race to the counter, shoulder checking along the way, I did. I recognized this geometric polyester knit from a dress in their collection a few summers ago. A dress that I wanted bad enough to cut and paste it into a word document...these were the days before Pinterest.

 I knew I was onto a good thing with the Mission Maxi Dress pattern after I wore the 'test run' for three days straight. A bit feral now I think about it. But it's just a great pattern, especially for lazy girls at heart! For minimal time and effort you get a super flattering, easy wearing summer maxi dress. This version using view C with godet, really grabbed my attention and I assumed my geometric print would make a spectacular godet version. However, in my case, the print had so much happening already that the godet doesn't really stand out. It's seems more visually effective to use a plain fabric, like stripes, and get creative with changing the direction of the fabric.

So I may have mentioned in a recent Kniterviews, something to the tune of 'I don't change much at all when sewing with knits laa laa di da'. Which is all well and dandy until I tried to sew this really stretchy fabric with a regular straight stitch. No surprises, it puckered like a you know what! Usually I avoid my machine's stretch stitch function ( uneven stitches?) but in this case it was ten times better than straight stitch. I tried so hard to line up the print but it was ta-ricky. I'm declaring polyester knit as the eel of stretch fabrics, and after much wrestling I still couldn't get it to match at the center back and side seams. Lucky its a busy print and hides it well. So don't look too close you lot!

Now I have my own, friendlier on the budget, Tigerlily dress! 

07 February 2012

It's Hootylicious

Pattern:  90 minute shirt tutorial from here
Fabric: women's tee +  ribbing 

Short and sweet post today. I made this for Archie's little mate, who just turned 4. He's into owls and I happened to have this thrifted tee in the cut-up clothes pile. I only had small window of sewing time and needed a quickie of the best kind so I turned to the ever-faithful 90 minute shirt, also seen here and here and maybe here. It's a real confidence builder too when your sewjo needs a boost. Though now its finished I really want to keep it. Is that possibly the lowest form of indian giving, the one in which you don't even give the present? So I posted it right here where I won't get away with my crime, since there's a good chance our little friend's mummy is reading this...

05 February 2012

Stuff n' Stay to keep the villains at bay

Pattern: Oliver and S sailboat top. Last time I made a 3 and the arms were a bit short, so now he's a size 4 I made a 5 and we're good. I don't think its the pattern sizing, we're probably a long armed species.

Fabric: Stripey Jersey pinched from a loved-no-longer dress that wasn't really my style. I didn't take before photos so you'll have to take my word for it, but I squeezed out every piece of this pattern bar the hem facing.

Mods: Chunky black cuffs, I like how they look on the cardigans. Instead of two buttons on each shoulder, I used one big button, mostly out of necessity!

Botchy bits: Something is up with my button hole foot. It's catching the fabric half way through each hole so then I have to tug at it which makes for a really average button hole. I wish I could say its just happening with knits, but wovens too. It's making me a little nervous, seeing as the next few projects I 'd like to sew for me have so many buttons in really obvious places. Somehow I don't think I'll be attaching giant buttons to hide the mess beneath, though I quite like it here!

Make again: This is one of my favourite boy patterns. I like the details like top stitching and facings, which make for a neat finish and look more complicated than they are. Now that I know it works in a knit...

Make your own Stuff n' Stay with this tutorial. To make the Villain version, we can bypass a few steps.  Since we are using felt we can sew our two layers of felt wrong to wrong side, just make sure the velcro side is facing out. Sew around the edges with an 1/8" seam (include eye holes), still leaving a little gap to stuff. Once you've stuffed it to your liking, stitch the gap closed with your machine still on the right side with 1/8" seam. 

  Completely forgot the back molar berry check.