30 April 2012

KCWC Day Five, Six, Seven: Blazer + Sarouels

 Hey I made it to the bonus outfit! The one I would attempt if body and soul were still in tact by day five? There's even a whole day left of Kids Clothing Week Challenge, and of course I'm wondering....can I possibly squeeze something else out? It's not helping  that the KCWC flickr pool is overflowing with amazing sewing, and updated constantly. But, I am d.o.n.e. No attempt at a witty title today. When all I feel like blogging is 'Yo. I made a blazer and some silly pants. The end', I'm all KCWC'd out!

It's okay, you can laugh. These pants are a little more ridiculous than I imagined. I was going for a woven version of day two's Sarouels and went to town on the baggy crotch. I just figured the wider and lower that archway the better. They looks so cool hanging up. But on, the crotch creeps up and out and suddenly it's all Senor Poofy Pants. Archie loves them, I assume because he gets a nice breeze down there. He's such a dude in this outfit (t-shirt blogged about here) but I'm still unsure if these 'pantaloons' are ready for the public...

However, I feel like the bones are pretty good. The length is good, the cuffs work, the lower leg is the skinny shape I was going for. So if and when I revisit these, I need to tweak the width and obviously the depth of the archway. Maybe this shape would have been worked in a knit fabric. I'm loving how the details turned out...pockets, box pleats at the front and self-cover buttons with the fake button holes embroidered on.

I made a blazer. It has telephones. The end. Alright, lets be serious. I couldn't resist making another blazer out of this fabric, also used here and here. While I can see this fabric might not be to everyone's taste, there's something about the colour and line drawings of retro phones that does it for me. Once again I used the toddler blazer pattern by Melly Sews with a couple of adjustments. I added an inch of length to the arms, removed width from the back and piped the perimeter with self-made piping (cord +bias tape). I don't understand why I can't get ready made piping anywhere at the moment. This is urban Australia, not the jungle! Of course I had to give welt pockets another try, just to make sure this time wasn't a fluke. I found a tutorial for 'piped welt pockets', which are pretty fun. I suspect the 'lips' are supposed to be sandwiched shut but I quite like a peek at the lining from the outside.


27 April 2012

KCWC Day Four: Beach Shack

Did I say shack? I meant hack. Beach Hack.

Day four of Kids Week Clothing Challenge and I'm guessing some of us are starting to flag while others are just picking up momentum. Okay, I'll just speak for myself here...I am starting to flag. Today I was just not feeling it. How could I tell? Before me lay a couple of precious kid free sewing hours and I considered going back to bed. Um, what?! Yes, dire. I needed a boost. Fast. I needed....a mid-kcwc-hack job!

We are like the anti-hoarders at our place. Or just very good at re-cycling. Mr Cirque Du Bebe keeps gifting my 're-fashion bin' with insanely awesome man clothes. Maybe he's been mistaking it for the washing basket. Better check up on that one. Later. Anyway, the supply is so plentiful that I haven't stepped near a thrift store in weeks. I had this singlet + sunnies as part of my KCWC plans but I was really dragging my feet to start. But once I spotted these tropical boardies in the pile...a beach bum surfie outfit was born!

 Here's the how...
Singlet-  used a size 4 shirt as a guide for the length and width. The original neckline was too low so I re-sewed the shoulder seams, taking about two inches out of the front piece just below the shoulders, which brought the neckline up and kept the original neck binding. I kept the arm binding too and just sewed new side seams using the size 4 shirt as a guide. And hemmed the bottom as normal. I cut the sunglasses off another shirt and used the iron-on paper again to attach it. 
Boardies-  Used a pair of size 4 shorts as a guide for width and leg length. Because the whole waist band was elasticized I literally sewed new side seams, new inner leg seams and hemmed the pants at the new length. 

26 April 2012

KCWC Day Three: Old-Manligan



If I was going to try and wean myself off Manligans, the pep talk would go something like  'Hey girl, don't you think it's time for a new gig, does anyone really need to see another Manligan?'.  I doubt it would work, I'm too attached to the Darling Cardigan pattern. The possibilities for fun re-fashions are endless and once you've made a couple, you can start ignoring the instructions and take shortcuts. 

 The challenge was in getting all pattern pieces out of this ladies argyle sweater, including the ribbing. You need quite a bit here for cuffs, waist band and the front placket which goes all the way around the neck. Sometimes re-fashions have a magical way of working out especially when you make use of the already hemmed parts. I used the existing sleeve and cuffs from the sweater to save some work. The bottom band of the sweater then became the front placket and waist band for the cardigan.

Let's just hope no-one was in earshot to hear 'that's it darling, climb into the suitcase for mummy'. He's not silly. And made sure I knew it..

...with his best cantankerous old man face. 

25 April 2012

KCWC Day two: Tamer of beasts

 I can see now there's a lot to be said for using a pattern over and over, particularly when you're project laden and time poor. Situations like Kids Clothing Week Challenge. It's my fourth re-visit of the Oliver and S Sailboat top and it's getting to the stage where I need a quick refresh of the instructions at the beginning and then it's autopilot.  I didn't plan it like that, but hey not a bad strategy to remember!

You know, I would love to claim the full glory of this lion but he was already a happening dude when I pinched him from an old shirt. Complete with glasses and a printed bow tie, I was merely the cutter-upper and the sticker-onner. And a pretty good one too. Using fusible transfer paper, it was just a matter of ironing it onto the back of Mr Lion, peeling off the paper and ironing him onto the front of the top. However, I did fashion a little bow tie out of red felt. Yes, that was me.

I made another pair of Sarouel's to go with lion top out of some interlock knit. The fact that I was able to erect these in the same day as the sailboat top is proof of how simple they are. A couple of you mentioned you might be interested in a tutorial, so assuming you weren't just being polite (too late now) then yes, absolutely, you can have one...as soon as we've all recovered from KCWC ok? 

Anyone else been freakin out about free photo editor Picnik closing down? I am not at all Photoshop savvy so have been milking Picnik for all it's worth. Luckily, just in time for KCWC I Am Momma Hear Me Roar posted a great review of two new free photo editing programs. I like my photos clean and simple so usually pay attention to 'adjust exposure' tool and try to avoid the lure of 'effects'. But the Daguerreotype effect (first pic), along with 'intrepid' filter (all other pics) on PicMonkey sucked me in real good. 

24 April 2012

Kids Clothing Week Day One: Lil' lost boy

Phew! Day one went like a well oiled machine. I'm so glad I finally got around to this pattern, the 'warm hoodie vest' by Dmk. It came together so quickly because there's just not much to it. Four pieces, fully lined, no sleeves, no hems, no seam finishing. It would have been even quicker, except that when I saw the hood was arranged exactly like the  'cosy winter hood' from Oliver and S 'Little things to sew' book there was no choice but to add ears.  

The pattern gives the option of either a button or ties for the closure. First I just added a chunky black plastic button but it just didn't go with the whole woodland critter vibe. I took a punt, replaced it with self-cover buttons, added an extra one and arranged the ties into button loops and the effect is a lot more 'organic'. Self-cover buttons are perfect for those times when you don't want a big chunk of plastic on the front of something.

Re-fashioning is a thrilling sport. As is thrifting. And I have to say I feel pretty virtuous when I get to make an entire outfit from old tees and pre-loved fabric. The vest is one such beast, made from thrift store knit fabric and pants that started out a men's tee-shirt. You'll have to take my word for it, I was too eager to start cutting so there's no 'before' pics.

Okay, technically these pants are not part of Kids Clothing Week Challenge but hey now seems as good a time as any to whip em out. They're Sarouel pants, or dropped crotch (I'll take Sarouel) and are my very first attempt at drafting a pattern. And woot they worked. Skinny in the leg and baggy in the crotch with pockets, a drawstring and elastic in the back. Maybe not a look I'd rock myself but on a wee tot they're cute cute cute. 

21 April 2012


There's a buzz in the air! I promise you it's not coming from my computer but the fast approaching Elsie Marley Kids Clothing Week Challenge. It's hard to pick what I've been looking forward to the most. There's the hot pot of inspiring sewing to be discovered in the KCWC flickr pool. Then there's the thrill of your own challenge...how much sewing can one get done in one week, without things going to complete you know what around you. But what I love the most is knowing everywhere, normally functional, responsible mothers are turning themselves into crazy sewing ladies for a whole week.

Every KCWC I watch in awe as fellow sewers and bloggers systematically, calmly and probably with clean kitchens, churn out  beautiful garments day after day after day. Me, I like to go for the all or nothing approach. My first KCWC was manic. I managed one a day for the first three, got burnt out, sewed nothing until day 6, decided there was still plenty of time. And sewed my finger. Last KCWC, I had bigggg plans. We were in another town, in someone else's house and in the end sanity and sleep won out.

This time I'm adopting a new plan... fabric is cut, sewing nook is organized. No signs of that Mad Sewing Lady yet. I'll be attempting four outfits and a bonus one. So if by day five I can still wade through debris to my sewing machine and all fingers are in tact, there's still two days left to attempt the bonus outfit. Sounds sensible? Achievable? I hope so, though these little doodles are looking deceptively simple on paper. There's a re-fashion, a new pattern I've been wanting to try, two self-drafted experiments and another bloody manligan. Hope to see y'all in the pool!

14 April 2012

Jenny + Banksia

Well, that was a break I didn't see coming! Ill never take my arms for granted again, after living without them for the good part of a week. Who's novel idea was it to try a Crossfit class?! Sure, it was hard. And not being able to grip the steering wheel on the way home, well, that's just a sign of a good workout right? But two days later I couldn't cut cheese, reach behind my head to do hair or a bra. Talking on the phone was lying my head on the table with it on speaker. And taking aim at my mouth with painkillers to stop the burning in my T-REX ARMS! Which were puffy...muscle trauma perhaps? Doctor in the house? Anyway, that's my excuse so I'm hoping to appease with two garments, finished pre-incapacitation.

Here's Jenny. I've been hanging out to make this perfect Burdastyle pencil and made a really adult decision here. I had this heavy stretch cotton set aside for a second Vogue 8280 wiggle dress. Only thing is, I actually do want a very wearable hand-made wardrobe even if it means reigning in the statement dresses. A tough call but the skirt won out on the grounds that it would go with nearly all potential 'blouse' fabrics in the stash. Pretty mature I thought.

Loved: Jenny is a great shape. Using a heavy fabric with stretch means no lining too.
Loathed: Inserting the zip twice. The first one got snagged where the skirt seam joins the waist band. I don't think invisible zippers like this bulk.
Adjustments: Invisible zip, adding two inches to the length like Gertie's ( she added three, and next time I'd add at least three to get it below the knee). I took width out of the sides for a wiggle shape and shortened the back slit.
Triumphs: Blind stitching the hem by hand really is worth it, as is using a co-ordinating serger (over-locker) thread. For two years I've been living in fear of my over-locker. I've wanted to change the thread but tend to avoid manuals like the plague. It quickly became insurmountable. Until recently, when I took the beast to the shop, hoping for a pity re-thread and got charged $15! When I actually opened it up, there were diagrams and the whole thing took five minutes. Sans manual.

Pattern: Megan Neilson Banksia 
Fabric: The softest, sweetest cotton floral. Gosh I love it. A thrifty find from my one and only (and bestest) real live sewing buddy. They're in short supply!
Loved: Just the cutest blouse and great instructions. A definite make-again.
Loathed: High bust darts. And their accompanying wrinkles. When I make it again, I need to move them. Any tips on lowering bust darts? Or raising busts?
Adjustments: When I attached the collar to the bodice the ends of the collar finished about an inch either side of the placket, which is not how it looks in the picture. Paunnet mentioned this here and adjusted her collar pattern. I re-fed the collar around the neckline, so that it met the placket and to do this I really eased the neckline, not quite to the point of gathers but it worked.
Triumphs: A placket! The pattern comes with two versions and I chose the easy one.

Not sure how much longer I can pretend it's Spring...it's getting chilly!

13 April 2012

Say, can I interest ye in a vote?

Remember this one? I entered it into Made By Rae's Spring Top Sewalong and it's made it into this week's Top of The Tops. Exciting enough on its own, but now there is a chance it could earn some real fabric dollars too. Which thrills me deeply. Enough to get past the squeamishness of self-promoting. So if you haven't voted for your favourite yet, there's still time to pop over to Rae's today.  I won't lie, I'm kind of, sort of really hoping it might be mine (letter E). Is this getting awkward? There's still two whole weeks of Spring Top Sewalong left, time enough to get inspired, whip up a top and chuck it in the pool. The flickr Pool. And if you need some inspiration there's no shortage so far...

01 April 2012

Hello Deerest

At what age does it become 'uncool' to play dress-ups and make-believe? Somehow, I don't think you should repress these kind of things or they might return with greater zest! Honestly I'd happily spend my days sewing wiggle dresses and scouting the streets for interesting locations to get into character. Though this time there is a purpose to all this hamming up... Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Dress Challenge. Where did those six weeks go? Today is the big reveal so head to Julia's for a vintage swoon fest. 

1960 Misses' Dress With Slim or Pleated Skirt  McCall's 5692  Size 14  Bust 34  Factory Folded
Well, here she blows...a ridgy didge, true to era, wiggle dress made from this vintage pattern. As it was my first dealings with such a beast, I had no idea what was in store. I'm pleased to report that firstly it came with a nice old person smell. And secondly, there was nothing wild and outrageous about the construction, or instructions. Everything was pretty much the same as today's patterns. Except for features like this collar. It's gigantic, and um...reflective. Where ever you go, you get studio lighting on your face. Nifty!

Fabric: Cotton 'Deer Valley Antler Damask' in Taragon by Joel Dewberry, from here. I really thought that lining up this design would be a challenge. Have a look at the picture of my behind, don't be shy... there's a seam right down middle-back of the skirt. Hard to tell?! A pat on the back for Matchie Matcherson. Maybe this print has magical liner-upy qualities... I didn't even try and match it at the waist and it still works. 
Adjustments: Moved hem from calf to knee length and once again sheared it into a wiggle shape at the bottom. 
Notions: Self-cover buttons with collar fabric.
Location: An older suburb, brimming with rickety fences and antique shops with ready-to-borrow props out the front (see suitcase). 
Vintage Accessories: Nana Alma's gloves from the 60's, mum's necklace and, including me, it's a three generation outfit. Naw.

Rather than choose just one inspiring Mad Men dress I went for the oh so fabulous wiggle silhouette. Though of all the ladies I feel this number, with it's shape and colours, belongs to Joan. So while it's unlikely to make it to very wearable status it's still nice seeing it hanging in the closet waiting patiently for a Mad Men themed party. What a challenge! From scouting for vintage patterns, finding era appropriate fabric and playing dress-ups, it was thrills all the way. I feel I've brought a little piece of history to life! This must be where sewing gets nerdy.

...I'll leave you with some Mad Men-esque drama from the 'trailer' courtesy of Picnik's cinemascope effect...