31 May 2012

Squid on a sofa

While Selma Sack Dress is under construction I've got summer singlets and a cringe-worthy story: For a while now I've been growing more and more comfortable with sewing knits, maybe even starting to think I've got this thing nutted out. Except for the hemming. No matter the stitch length, or how slow and carefully I go, I always end up with puckers. I couldn't understand it, I've been using a walking foot. Haven't I? Well, last night I found my real walking foot. The one I'd thought was the walking foot was actually my regular foot, and I assumed it must be the walking foot because it moves up and down like, well how a foot walks. It gets worse. Here is a quote from my Kniterview at Made By Rae: 'I can put all knit sewing success down to the walking foot'. A Kniterview where I was presented as some sort of authority on knits? Someone even went out and bought one on my recommendation. I'm sure it won't be the last time I make wild sewing allegations in public. But now I've actually found and used the real walking foot, it really is fantastic so I am officially re-recommending it.

After the great success of 'man with antlers' tee for Vintage May I've been itching to make more transfer tees using Leslie Rylie's unbelievably amazing artist transfer paper. I've stocked up on fantastic vintage images like squids on a sofa and a steampunk airship from here. Addicted? Just a little. And Rae's flashback tee makes the perfect canvas. I should probably be starting to leave sleeves on things but have been swept up in summer singlet action...first inspired by Kristin's vintage strongman, then Inder's stripey version and I'm loving the colours and style of Jessica's singlet here. Kristin's has a very helpful how-to for modifying the flashback tee to a singlet, which is not just a matter of shearing the sleeves straight off as I would have probably done.

I'm down to the last of what's been a really great pile of thrifted fabric and having used up most of the bright stuff, am left a muted palette, like these two. It's kind of refreshing. Maybe it's the weather getting cooler. Another thing in favor of a good basic like the flashback tee is the fun you can have with mods. Sleeves or no sleeves, patterned or plain, embellished, colour blocked, ribbing or no ribbing. Instead of using regular ribbing for arm and neck bands, I wanted the same fabric as the shirt for the squid one and a contrast stripey knit fabric for the other. Since neither of these knit fabrics are as stretchy as ribbing, the length of the bands are only 1/2 " shorter than the arm and neck hole measurement instead of the recommended 1" and it seems to work well. I couldn't love these any more. Oh, and good news...one just came out of the washing machine with the image intact!

27 May 2012

What would you do?

I went thrifting with a friend last week hoping to pick up some new old t-shirts and other knit items for re-purposing. Well, not only did I land some great knit items, I found this dress. It was $2 so I brought it home. So far everyone has laughed at my show and tell. Granted, they've been mostly family members of the un-crafty variety so it's forgivable. But Mr. Cirque Du Bebe well, he took the mockery to a whole new level...

Disturbed? You should be. Just be glad I cropped off his head and spared you the 'I'm a pretty princess' face. Oh no, that one was not ready for the public. But that'll learn ya for knocking Selma Sack Dress!

So clearly the problem here was not with the dress but the audience. That's why I've brought her here where I know she'll be in good hands. If anyone can see the glorious dress that could be, it will be you lot. So the question is...what would you do with it? The fabric is a knit and the little buttons are wooden. I'm seeing a high waisted, sleeveless dress with wedges. I'm open to suggestions. What do you see? Please don't say a sack.

Thrifting is just so bloody great isn't it? Sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss but when it delivers I'm on a thrifters high for days. I think I hit the bonanza on this outing, scoring these knit tops, some men's, some women's, with different weights and textures but all perfect for re-fashions. The geometric fabric is a hoodie and I almost didn't buy it. Something about feeling naughty buying a perfectly wearable hoodie to cut up. Then again it was at the thrift shop because somebody didn't want it. That's like feeling guilty for rescuing a kitty from the pound. Silly! 

25 May 2012

May contain ears...

So so so excited to be visiting No Big Dill today to join in Katy's epic sewing series Once Upon A Thread. You should go check it out, while I go and have my breakdown quietly in the corner. Kidding, mostly. We had maybe three months to prepare and along the way I procrastinated, got pleasantly distracted by KCWC, changed books three times, fired one model (too squirmy), swapped him for another (bribed) and somehow managed to finish with two days to go before due date. Not sure why I do that to myself. Anyway, I am thankful for the lessons learned in time management. And the chance to take part and share this project and a tutorial

Here's a sneaky peek...

18 May 2012


Boy do I have some exciting stuffs for you today. I think it's safe to assume that if you're here reading this you like sewing, adore vintage clothing and, kids or no kids, can appreciate a well dressed one? Great. Well, put them all together and you get the love-child series of Skirt as Top and Craftiness Is Not Optional...Vintage May! It's half way through and with only one week left of vintage inspired goodness, it's not to be missed. Not today. Not any day. But particularly not today. I'll be sharing a special vintage something for the lads over at Skirt As Top

08 May 2012

Make your own...

I don't know about you but after a week of deciphering patterns and generally sewing butts off my brain is still mush. I just want a project I can handle refreshingly...without care. After slapping together several of these Sarouels, I've decided they are the perfect project for a post Kids Clothing Week hangover. I'm loving that I can be as un-precious with these as possible and still yield results. This is a good thing, when you need a rest and not necessarily from sewing. As promised, I've put together a how-I-did-it and it's coming to you straight from the sewing nook floor! Be afraid.

To break it down we're making a super relaxed, super hip lounge-pant with a dropped crotch (happily accommodates a cloth nappy), skinny leg below the knee and drawstring front. And there is fun to be had with variations, contrasting cuffs and pockets. I'm sure there's a few er 'techniques' here that will raise an eyebrow, but it's just the circus effect. I cordially invite you to make your own pair of Sarouels for your babe and I'd love to hear how you go  / see your version! 

What you'll need

  • 1 x men's t-shirt (size L or bigger is best) or any knit fabric
  • Scissors
  • Elastic 
  • Fabric marker / chalk
  • Pins + safety pin
  • Butchers paper / pattern tracing paper and pen
  • A pair of leggings / skinny pants that fit your baby / toddler
*A word on seam finishing....There are opportunities along the way to serge / zigzag the edges but as it's knit fabric we're working with, you can also leave them raw.

1// Lay leggings / skinny pants on the butchers / pattern paper. Starting at the crotch, trace along the inner leg down to the bottom. Add 3/8" along the bottom for your seam allowance. Instead of hugging the side of the outer leg draw the line straight up. Extend the line an inch above the top of the waist band and continue along to the centre back waist band. I haven't included a 3/8 " seam on the inside leg here as I want the final pants to fit slightly skinnier than these. If you're using leggings as the guide and they're already skin tight, then add the 3/8 seam on inner leg seam. 

2 // Join the crotch to the top and mark this line as 'on the fold'.

3// Drop the crotch by 1.5 - 2 "  ( just wing it) and mark with a dot. You can use a different colored pen here to draw the new crotch line. Draw a slightly fuller curve as you connect this dot with the inner leg.

4 // Since the shape of Sarouel pants is an extra long skinny leg below the knee I've drawn the cuff with the majority hanging off the end of the pants (which are already a good length). The red line is the bottom of the leg and the blue is the cuff. To start with draw a rough rectangle that is the width of the leg and approx 2.5- 3" high (this includes a 3/8 " seam allowance for when we join cuff to leg later). Now in the photo you'll see I've drawn second vertical line inside the cuff. This is the actual width of the cuff and where you make this line will depend on the fabric you are using. In this example I'm using a t-shirt which is not as stretchy as ribbing but I still want it to be a little skinnier than the leg so I've taken 3/8 " off the end of that first rectangle. If you are using ribbing, you would take an 5/8 off. Mark the bottom and one side with a 'fold line'. 

5// Cut cuff out, following blue lines and ignoring the red lines of the leg. Cut off the unnecessary piece.

6// Cut out the rest of the leg piece following the new crotch lines. Mark this as the back. 

7// To make the front of the pants, re-trace the entire back piece on a new piece of paper. Because of the roomy fit of these pants, the seat of the front and back pieces are the same. 

8// Time to draw our pockets. Starting 3" along the top and 4" down the side, join with a curve. Draw a second line 3/8 " above for seam allowance. Cut this piece out and label as front piece.

Cuff + front + back.

9// To make the last pattern piece, the backing for our lazy fockets (Faux pockets). Lay the front pant piece on a new piece of paper. We're making basically a rough square. Mark a point 2- 3" below start of curve on the left and one at the same height on the right side. Extend left side of pant up, and top edge of pant along until they intersect. 

10// Join the marks and finish the lines until you've got this shape. Label as pocket backing, mark right hand side as a 'fold' line and cut out. 

11// Prepare your t-shirt. Cut along side seams, shoulder seams and sleeve seams until you've got four separate pieces. 

12// It's hack time. Fold shirt front and shirt back pieces lengthways down the middle. Lay your pant front and pant back on top of shirt with fold markings on the fold. The top edge of the pants pieces will line up exactly with the bottom of the shirt. As you can see it doesn't matter if the shirt has a placket because the legs straddle it. On the shirt back piece there will be a space to place the pocket backing piece on the fold (the larger shirt you use the more you have to play with). Pin and cut these pieces.

13// For the cuff we'll take the sleeve and fold in half like so. 

14// Then fold it again this time top to bottom. 

14// Now you have two folded edges to line up with the fold edges on the cuff pattern. Cut out one cuff from each sleeve.

15// Now for possibly the laziest or most genius drawstrings ever. There will be lots of scraps left over from the t-shirt carcass. Among these scraps you should be able to find two longish pieces. Knit fabric tends to curl up, so let it roll over itself once or twice.  

16// Topstitch a 3/8 " seam down the length of each piece for about 15 inches. You're sewing over the top of the curled over bit. Like so.

17// Trim close to the stitch line about 1/ 16 " but not so close that you break through the stitching. You're left with a long neat tubey drawstring with one raw edge...and just personally I like this slightly rugged edge on this sort of hipster get up.

18// Tie off one end of each drawstring in a knot. Pull it firm. 

19// All pieces cut and ready to go!

20// Before the next step...if you're using knit yardage instead of a t-shirt and you want to finish the seam, now is the time to serge the top edge of both front and back pieces. In this example when we cut our pieces, the top of the pattern piece lined up with the already neatened lower hem of the shirt. Lay the front piece with wrong side facing you. Place un-knotted end of drawstring in the corner where top edge meets pocket curve, 3/8" away from each side.

21// Fold edge of curve 3/8 " over to catch the drawstring. Pin in place.

22//Fold the rest of the curve over 3/8 ", pinning as you go. Repeat step 21-23 for other side.

23// Topstitch 1/8" from the edge for both sides.

24// Turn front piece over so right side is facing you. Fold the top over 1 inch towards the wrong side. Find the middle of the front piece and mark with a pin or fabric marker.

25// Mark the placement for two tiny weeny button holes about 4/8 " long, evenly spaced on either side of center mark. If you imagine where the inch of fabric folded down at the back might come to, you want these button holes to start and finish inside that inch. 

26// Unfold the top of the front piece now and you can see where the marks are in relation to everything.
27// Sew your buttonholes where you marked them ( The button I used had a 3/8 " diameter), slit them open and feed the drawstrings through.  

28// Take your pocket backing piece and serge the two long edges. With the wrong side of front pants piece facing you, place the pocket backing piece right side down, lining up the top edge of the two pieces.

29// At the side of the front piece and pocket backing, baste together where they meet. 

From the front it will look like this...basted together at the sides but not joined along the top edge.

30// Turn over so wrong side is facing you. With pocket backing and front piece together fold top edge down an inch toward you. Pin and stitch along the line, close to the edge to create the casing for the drawstring. 

This is what you will see from the front. Taking shape!

31// Time for super lazy pockets. With the right side of front pants facing you, place a scrap piece of paper on top to line up with where you just stitched. Find where the pocket backing begins at the bottom, and mark on the paper a point 3/8 " above this spot. Similarly at the top, mark a point on the paper one inch inside where the front piece starts. Join these two point with a curve and cut this shape out. It's your pocket guide.

32// Trace this shape using a fabric marker or chalk onto the fabric on both sides. You can be sure your pockets will look the same.

33// Topstitch along the pocket lines through both the front piece and pocket casing. Now you have pockets!

34// Cut a piece of elastic to just over half the width of back of pants piece. You don't have to be too exact here because the drawstring at the front will adjust the fit. 

35// With wrong side facing you, fold top of pants down an inch towards you. Pin and topstitch casing shut close to the lower edge. How far from the edge is dependent on the width of your elastic, just leave it plenty of room to slide through. 

36// Attach the safety pin to one end of elastic and feed through the casing. Before the other end of the elastic slips through, pin it in place at the start. 

37// Pin the other end in place and remove safety pin. 

38// Pin front pants piece to back piece, right sides facing and sew a 3/8 " seam down each side. Make sure the elastic is still in place. Finish the edges.

39// Do the same for the crotch seam, pin, sew and serge.

40// To make your cuffs, fold in half with right sides together so that the short ends of the cuff piece meet. Pin this edge and sew a 3/8 " seam for both cuff pieces.

41// Turn cuff right way out and fold in half lengthways so that the wrong sides are together and the raw edges matching.

42// Place cuff over end of pant leg, with raw edges lined up. Pin in place and sew with a 3/8 " seam. Finish edges. And that, my friend, is it!