Sunday, April 19, 2015

Casual denim skirt

After having thoroughly spoiled my daughter with so many mummy-mades a couple of weeks ago, I thought I should make something for myself- something casual, not another flowery dress!

On a related note, I'd heard through the Facebook grapevine about Sew Box Subscriptions. They are a monthly box of mystery sewing goodies, including fabrics, patterns, notions and sewing tools. I didn't want to commit to a subscription so I asked the business owner if I could try it out for one month. My box arrived a week ago, full of strawberry goodness!

I'm very happy with what I got in the box, but at $45 a month, it's not something I'm going to do again. Most of the things in the box aren't things I would normally buy, even though they are cute, so I'd prefer to use the money to buy what I want (curse my stupid fabric buying ban!). 

I decided straight away to nab the denim for myself and make a very simple skirt. This skirt pattern is super cute, easy, fits me perfectly, and uses barely any fabric, so it was the obvious choice.

I made the shortest view, and used watermelon-print cotton for the waistband and pocket linings. This took me only two hours to make.

I used a denim needle, and top stitched with two spools of thread- one goldeny colour, and one beige. The denim is very thick, so there are a couple of stitches that are slightly longer or shorter than the rest where I went over the bulky seams. 

Overall, a very satisfying make!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More stuff for Betty!

So I've kinda gone a bit crazy this week. I really enjoyed making the shorts for Lizzie (or Betty, as we sometimes call her), and decided to make two dresses for her, thinking she could wear one on Easter Sunday. I pulled out this pattern that I hadn't tried out yet. 

Super, super easy. I chose to make very simple, unadorned ones as my two fabrics are very busy- a navy pique with white birds and colourful flowers, and a bright floral corduroy on a pink background. I cut all the pieces out and was going to try to make both dresses at once, but I knew that if I set myself a deadline (I had to finish them that day to have one ready for Easter), I would make a big booboo somewhere. So I decided just to sew up the pink one.

I had some really cute green polka dot bias binding in my stash and thought that would look cute to finish all the edges. Also, I thought binding would be quicker than the facings the pattern called for. It wasn't really, but the effect is very cute.

I made a size 5 and it is super huge on my tiny girl. But hey, I'd rather it be too big than too small! She didn't care at all that it was massive, and proudly wore it to Easter lunch at Gran's house. The other dress is sitting in my project bag...these are really winter dresses, and I had a hankerin' to squeeze in a few more summer items even though we are into the second month of Autumn. Today was the first autmnish day we've had so far.

Onto the summer items! I've had this pattern since Lizzie was a baby, and am ashamed to say I've never used it. It only goes up to size 4 so I thought I'd give it a go while she still can squeeze into it. I cut out the two top patterns, plus another pair of Blue Jays shorts, all using combinations of the blue gingham and brown floral.

I made the little button-back top on Monday night. It was stupidly quick and easy, and how cute does it look?

Yesterday morning I decided to make a start on the shorts. I sewed up the leg seams, put one leg inside the other to sew the crotch seam...and realised I'd cut two of the same leg. How did I do this stupid thing? Well, the fabric wasn't wide enough to cut the piece on the fold, so I cut it twice on a single layer. What I didn't do was flip the pattern piece over for one of them!! 

Gah! I was so annoyed. These shorts were going to be so cute! And I'd used up all the floral fabric! 
I ummed and ahhed and in the end decided to cut the bits into two big rectangles, keep the original waistband that I'd cut, and add another strip of gingham to the bottom. Voila, a skirt!

So I finished that in the afternoon...after dinner, I decided to try to sew my final item, the peasant top. It took me just over an hour. After I sewed the neckline elastic casing, I couldn't be bothered doing another one, so for the sleeves I did a rolled hem and then sewed very thin elastic about 1cm from the edge. I like this look!

This top could have done with at least another two inches of length, but I'm happy, and Lizzie absolutely adores it! And I'm so pleased that I managed to start and finish not one, but two items in one day. Annnd, everything came from my stash! 

So, after a mammoth week of sewing, Elizabeth now has lots of Mummy-mades! I'm already thinking of what I can make next! Jimmy is not at all interested in having anything made for him. 
I'd forgotten how fun and fast it is to make kids' clothes :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bobkin Blue Jays shorts

Something very strange has happened to me lately...I've decided that I have enough dresses, and that I don't need to make myself something every month! Instead, I've decided my girl needs more mummy-mades in her life. Can it be that I've become a selfless sewer???

Elizabeth has lots of skirts and quite a few dresses, but not many shorts, and I think that shorts for girls are not only very practical, but also extremely cute. Most shorts in the shops at the moment are skanky looking and too short by far. I really like puffy little bubble shorts. Lizzie got a pair for Christmas when she was two years old and I loved them, but unfortunately they got too small for even her tiny stick legs last year and I had to donate them. I searched the Internet for a similar pattern and came across the Blue Jays pdf pattern by Bobkin. They go up to size 8 so are really good value. I also bought a dress pattern while I was browsing...will make that one in Spring :)

The pattern is very simple. There only three pattern pieces- one leg, one leg cuff, and one waistband. You cut the belt and belt loops using measurements provided.

I had two really cute fabrics in my stash. The brighter one is some drill that I never really had enough of to do much with after I made a pleated skirt with half of it. The other one is a sturdy but soft cotton. Both perfect for shorts! I paired the drill with some polka dot stuff, and didn't do a contrast with the other floral cotton. I intended to leave out the belt and belt cuffs on those ones. 

The instructions, I'm sorry to say, had me stumped. They start off really well, with the first step telling you to finish the edges that need finishing. I really appreciated that step, because sometimes I can't think ahead and finish my seams before it's too late and I've joined the seams together. Unfortunately after the first step, things got weird. The second step tells you to join the two shorts pieces together at the fronts and backs, with no further explanation. Now, I've made shorts before, but I got confused here and did completely the wrong thing and had to unpick it. I don't think that a beginner would have any clue what to do. Also, I had to ask for help online in one bit because the instructions kept talking about a waistband front and waistband back. I discovered that it actually meant waistband and waistband lining! 

The method of elastic insertion was extremely awkward and I really don't know why the designer chose that particular method. For the record, the instructions tell you to join the elastic ends and then keep it held down with your fingers and pins while you top stitch the waistband down. Soooo tricky. I tried sewing that way for about one inch, said f$@& this, then did it my way, which is to top stitch most of the waistband closed, insert the elastic with a safety pin, sew the ends together, then top stitch the gap closed. Much better.

Gripes aside, I really love the shorts, and will be making more pairs. I just will ignore the instructions next time!

I finished the cuffed ones first, then after I inserted the elastic on the second pair and had Lizzie try them for size (before I'd started the cuffs), she said, "I want the wegs wike this!". She liked the way that it kind of looked like a skirt without the leg cuffs. I was happy to leave them off, as it meant less work for me, and she was right- they did look pretty cute as skorts! I just turned the hem and added some ric rac...cute as!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Birthday gifts

One of my goals for this year was to make as many gifts as possible. It's easy when it comes to my daughter and her friends' birthdays- girls are so easy to sew for! I whipped up this cushion cover for a party Elizabeth was invited to a couple of weeks ago.

It was so quick and easy! I decided to buy some Star Wars fabric and make one for Jimmy's birthday. Yes, I realise I've broken my vow...but it's for my boy's birthday, so I talked myself into making an exception to the fabric buying ban!

Once I'd decided to make the cushion cover, I went to Spotlight to get a zip and noticed the Star Wars fabric was 40% off. I grabbed a blanket-sized piece of fleece for $11 and thought I could bind the edges and make a quick blanket. However, I didn't take into account that the print would be backwards on the reverse side, so I went back to Spotlight and found the same print on a smaller scale, on flanellette. I grabbed that and some grey corduroy to make some nice fat binding.

I've never really done proper quilting before. I made my daughter a quilt when she was a baby, but because I made it up and did no research, it was rubbish. This one is much better, but far from perfect.
The edges are not perfectly straight and my quilting is dodgy, to say the least (I quilted around the big pictures on the fleece side). I'm really proud of my binding, though- I took my time with it and did every step of an online tutorial. I even made sure that the nap of the corduroy is all facing the same way!

The cushion should have been super easy, but as always when I make something using measurements instead of a pattern, I did something stupidly wrong and the back (just a rectangle of corduroy) was heaps bigger than the front! Oh well, that was easy to fix.

I can't wait to give these to my boy tomorrow and I hope he loves them!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Shagadelic Jiffy dress

As soon as my dear friend Trudie gave me this awesome fabric, I knew I had to make a cute shift dress out of it.

The last time I used this pattern, I had a really hard time getting it to fit me, but I thought I'd give it another shot as I think the style really suits the print of this groovy fabric. This time I graded the back waist to a size 12 (the top section is size 8) but weight want to do too much to the front as it has French darts and I was scared of stuffing it up. I wanted to add the cute little bow on the neck but I had barely enough fabric to cut the two dress pieces. The fabric was only 36 inches wide- I've never seen fabric so narrow! I'm it quite sure of the fabric composition- perhaps Trudie can help me out. I don't even know if it's vintage fabric or just retro repro.

It came together very easily, but when I'd finished and went to try it on, it wouldn't fit over my lower hips. WTF? I'm not even hippy...I have no shape! Luckily I'd only basted the side seams, so I just reduced them down as far as I could in the waist and hip area.

The fit isn't perfect- there is some excess fabric in my lower back and under my bust, and I couldn't even attempt pattern matching with the amount of fabric I had, but I love it! It's so cute and shagadelic!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spit Up and Stilettos Harper Blouse

Last year, someone on a Facebook sewing page shared a link to this wonderful site: All, yes ALL, of their ladies' patterns are free! I downloaded the 4 that I liked best, printed them, and forgot about them. Last month I was thinking that I need to make a casual top, so I dug this one out. 

I had quite a bit of floral voile left over from the Firefly dress I just made for my daughter, and thought it would be perfect for this top. There are only 4 pattern pieces (well, 3 really...but either give you a collar and a collar facing, which are exactly the same) and it was super quick to cut out. The pattern says it takes 3-4 hours to sew, but it's so much quicker than that- even for a slowpoke like me! I think it took 2.5 hours including cutting. But I was lazy and didn't do the belt, belt loops, or rolled hem.

It was just sooo easy! I tried it on when it was finished and it was definitely far too sacklike for my shapeless figure, so I added dart tucks to nip it in a bit. They did the trick perfectly!

The neck kind of gapes open when I wear it. I considered adding a button closure but I didn't really want a restrictive high mandarin neck, so I've just left it and I think it looks fine. It looks great with leggings or my awesome Sourpuss pedal pushers.

In other news, my dear friend Trudie asked me to make her son a quilt cover using a vintage Star Wars sheet. I asked for a piece of fabric as payment, and this is what she gave me!

Aren't they divine? The yellow, orange and purple one is going to be made into a little shift dress, hopefully this weekend! I feel very clever, getting new fabrics when I'm on a fabric buying ban!

Friday, January 30, 2015

One Thimble magazine: Firefly Dress

I've been working on this project for a couple of weeks. In fact, this project has taken me longer to complete than any other project I've made, with the exception of the three sets of enormous curtains I made last year. I'm glad to finally be finished so I can gush about it!

This project ticks two boxes on my resewlution list:
- use fabric from my stash only
- give handmade gifts
And this wasn't on my list, but I want to try out patterns that I've never used before, instead of sticking to ones I've already used.

This dress is by Boo! Designs Patterns. Kristie is an Australian pattern designer and she has some amazing patterns for kids. I hope to get some more soon!

The dress features bodice ruffles, a huge sash, mitred neck binding, and a button down back. It is marked as an intermediate level pattern. At first I thought it was too hard for an intermediate sewer, but it isn't really. There are a million little steps, but each one is explained in great detail. The ruffles themselves took me about 2 hours- mostly because I wanted them to be perfect, so I took my time. 

There are also heaps of pieces. The bodice is made up of a front, side fronts, back, side backs, sash middle, sash, two ruffles, and neck binding. I did find the binding really tricky at first, but it was explained so well that it didn't take me long to figure out. 

Although this dress took ages to sew, it was a really pleasant project to make. I never complete a project on the day I start it- I like to do an hour here and there over the course of a week or two. Due to all the steps, it was easy to do one big step or a few small ones in a one to two hour sitting, then simply pick up where I left off the next night.

Everything was from my stash, with the exception of the grosgrain ribbon on the hem- I saw this in a discount store the other day and couldn't resist it. And anyway, I'm only banned from buying fabric, not other bits and bobs :p
The main fabric is some lovely lightweight cotton- voile or lawn- that I have had in my stash for about 4 years. I will be making a couple of blouses for myself with the rest of it. The pink polka dotted stuff is something I bought to use as a coordinating fabric some time last year. And the third fabric, used for the smaller ruffle, is a lovely Robert Kauffman with gold outlines around the flowers. It is absolutely stunning. It came in a bag of fabric my friend gave me and there was only a really tiny cut of it. I think this was the perfect way to use it and show it off. I have enough to make some kind of matching hair adornment.

All in all, I really loved making this dress, and I cannot wait to see the look on my daughter's face when I give this to her on her birthday in two weeks!