Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reversible collared shirt

This piece was conceived when I saw this grey jumpsuit by Mimi G.  I have to say I love that look, so much so that I almost bought the pattern,  but then at the last minute I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I knew I'd have issues getting it to fit, and there's always the question of how a form fitting jumpsuit is going to look on MY body as opposed to a model, so in the end I decided to draft it myself.

There were also a couple of changes I wanted to make.

1. I wanted long sleeves.  I have one jumpsuit which is pants length and short sleeve and it never gets worn as, if its warm enough for short sleeves I generally don't want long pants and vice I need long sleeves.
2.  I wanted it to be warm enough to wear by itself without having to put a jumper over it - obviously this is for practical purposes.  So I wanted to make it double layered.

I started with my basic raglan sleeve, princess seam top pattern, cut the sleeve full length and straight  and cut it out of a black knit fabric that I had in my stash.  I then cut my basic flared pants pattern out of the same fabric put them both on together and pinned them together at my waist line. I had to do a few fitting tweaks, added a center back seam to remove pooling in the small of my back etc. then once I was happy with how it fit I basted it together and trimmed all my seam allowances back.  I then took apart all the seams except that one at the waist and used the material to create the two pattern pieces as per the Mimi G pattern.

I then went looking for a material for the second layer and came out with the beautiful turquoise paisley knit fabric that I used to make L's dress here.  I cut out the pattern pieces up and sewed it up....and that's where the problems started.  I will say here that the jumpsuit fitted perfectly - it was exactly what I wanted......and it looked terrible on me... nope nope nope not going there.

Well what a waste that was.  I folded up the pattern and put it away - I'm not sure why I kept it even.  But then what to do with the half finished jump suit?  I did not want to waste all that beautiful material, so I cut the whole thing in half.  Now I had a shirt and pants.

I wanted to finish off the top first.  I went back to my trusty New Look 6704 and used the collar and stand pieces to finish off the neckline.  I used the paisley fabric for all of the collar and placket pieces. Getting the bottom of the placket to look good from both sides wasn't easy and I'm not sure my result was the best possible - I think I need to buy a Henly shirt pattern so I can figure out how to finish off this style of shirt.

The neckline is pretty low cut so I used a bead to hold it together.
I added as wide a band as I possibly could to the bottom as by cutting it off at the waistline the shirt is now pretty short.

I turned the end of the sleeve in the paisley material back onto the black side to create a cuff on the black shirt.  And we now effectively have two shirts - one in the paisley material and one in basic black with collar, bottom band and cuffs in the paisley fabric.

In the end I managed to make a wearable shirt out of this so that's something.  The pants are still sitting in my sewing room.  I'm not sure if I want to make them up for me - or cut them down and give them to L?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Assymetrical Funnel Neck Jacket

I was getting dressed one morning recently, and as I did so I realised that every morning in winter I get up, put on one of my nice home made shirts - and then promptly cover it up with a boring fleece jacket.  It's just not warm enough in my house in winter to wear just a shirt (even the fleecy, snuggly ones are not quite warm enough by themselves) and whilst I do have some nice knitted jumpers I can wear, I don't always want to wear them for lounging around the house.  Therefore most days I reach for one of my fleece jackets.  My go to jacket is an old purple store bought fleece, but last winter I did make myself two new fleece jackets - a red one and a green and black one  -  the problem is I'm just so bored of wearing the same style over and over and over...

And so I decided it was time for a new jacket.  I started browsing the internet looking for inspiration.  It needed to be warm, but a bit more stylish than a basic zip up fleece.  What I came back to every time was this pattern from Burda Style.   I absolutely love the neckline on this design.    Now my plan is to make this out of some beautiful wool fabric that I had found during one of my recent forays into the fabric store (and then line it with silk) - But I wasn't about to cut into this fabric without testing the pattern first - so I went through my stash and found a couple of pieces of left over fleece - in teal and black - that would go together to make a nice top.

Sizing - as per usual my sizing is all over the place.  BurdaStyle actually have a really good sizing chart with many different dimensions but, as is standard for me, I ranged from a size 36 (around my neck) to a size 50 (upper arms).  My pattern only came in size 36 to 44.  I decided to start simply by cutting out the entire pattern in a size 44 - but also added extra width to some of the main seams allowances to allow for fitting adjustments to be made.

After basting together the size 44, the first thing that was obvious was that the shoulders were way too wide.  So I re-cut all the yoke pieces back to a size 36 to bring the shoulder and neckline back to where they are supposed to be.  Much better.  Unfortunately, I forgot to cut down the front pieces - and so the shirt ended up feeling really wrong around the front.  In order to combat this I re-cut the front pieces at an angle.  The rest of the jacket fit nicely sewn to the size 44.

The sleeves came next - and I'm sure glad I left the extra room on the seams here because they were way too tight - I ended up adding about 3/4" to each forward seam on the two piece sleeve plus about 3/8" to each side of the back seam - adding over 2" to each sleeve before it fitted as I wanted.

The final step was the facing on the front pieces- somehow I managed to cut them incorrectly so they were sewn in back to front.  I ended up just cutting the lining pieces down to about 2.5" wide all around.  To finish the jacket off I hand catch stitched the back and front facings and the hems all around and used a couple of plastic snaps to hold the jacket closed.

Whilst this jacket is fine for wearing around the house it isn't perfect - that bottom snap is creating some real issues for starters - so I wanted to make a second muslin before cutting into the good fabric.  I had a piece of purple knit fleece in my stash so I decided to use that for my next try.

I went back to the pattern to figure out what had gone wrong, and realised my mistake with the front pieces not being cut down to the size 36.  I re-cut all my pattern pieces making sure everything fitted properly with all the other pieces and grading from the 36 at the shoulder to the 44 at the underarms.  I retained my modifications to the arm pattern pieces, but re-cut the sleeve head to fit with the new graded pattern.

Everything went together super simply once this was done and it only took me a couple of hours to finish off the top entirely - again hand stitching all hems and facings.  I also top stitched all the yoke seams using a red thread to really show off those seam details.

I have to say I love the way this turned out.

I'm not sure that I'll wear it fully done up all that often - it does have a tendency to feel like it's trying to choke you, but I really love the way it looks with the front pieces folded back as well.

So now that I have two jackets in this style, I'm not sure my wardrobe can handle a third.  Do I still want to make this pattern in the blue wool?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Last minute going out clothes for the kids

Our family lifestyle is such that we really don't have a great need for a lot of going out/nice clothes.  There's just a couple of times a year when we go out to celebrate a birthday dinner that I like the kids to get dressed up.  The problem with that is that when those few dates do come around the kids never have anything to wear.   It's my husbands birthday today and I've booked a table at a slightly nicer restaurant than we normally go out to, but last night someone said something and it got me thinking about what we were going to wear...neither of my kids have anything that fits them that would be considered what's a girl to do.  Obviously I whipped each of them up an outfit.

I started with L.  We sat down before she went to bed an talked about what she would like.  Her response was that she wanted something like my two piece maxi dress with a long skirt and a matching top so that it looks like a dress when worn together.  That's great.  I had a beautiful teal and black paisley knit fabric that I had been planning on making something for myself out of, but I selflessly offered it to her and she jumped at it.  So a straight long skirt that's simple, but what about the top.  We wanted it to be long sleeve for warmth, but we didn't want the sleeves dragging in her dinner so I suggested using the split sleeve with elbow cuffs that I used on this shirt (second shirt in post).   She agreed with that.  Next we discussed necklines and she decided she would like a shallow V neck.  OK I had my marching orders - I took all her measurements and sent her to bed and I got to work on her pattern.

I started with the kimono sleeve top pattern that I used when I made her a version of the sallie jumpsuit.  I added about 3/8" to the centerline as shes been growing a bit again lately and I didn't want her to grow out of this too soon.  I really should have added some length as well but I forgot about it at the time.  I brought the neckline in about 1" and raised it by about 2" to get the shallow V that she was looking for, and then for the back piece just cut a gentler curve around the neck rather than the V neck.

To make the sleeves I measured the armholes off the pattern and just cut a rectangle that wide and the length of her arm to the elbow.    I then hemmed the two long edges of the rectangle (the split down the top of the sleeve)  and sewed it into place in the armhole of the kimono top - effectively creating a drop shoulder sleeve. For the elbow cuff piece I cut a second rectangle to snugly fit her forearm, the length of the arm from elbow to wrist, and sewed it into a tube.  I then gathered the top half of the sleeve to fit into the cuff.  I finished the cuff just by turning and stitching with a decorative stitch.

To finished the neckline of the top I created a basic facing and cut it off and sewed it down about 1cm back from the sewn edge.

The skirt is just a basic rectangle sewn up the back and gathered at the top with 1.5" wide elastic.  I used a double turned 2" wide hem on the bottom to give it some weight to make it hang nicely.

For an evening and a few hours work in the morning (I had to wait till she had tried it on before I could finish it off) I'm very happy with this - and most importantly so is she - she hasn't taken it off since I finished it.  And best bit is, the top at least can hopefully be worn again and not just sit in the back of the closet until she outgrows it,

So once L was taken care it it was time to turn my attention to J.  Now J has a couple of store bought shirts that still fit him, but no pants that would go with them.  So I took J down to the fabric stash to see what he could find.  This boy has a very garish taste in clothes - I don't normally have a problem with that - but when he chose a fabric (bright blue corduroy with pink guitars) that totally clashed with the shirt he had chosen (dark blue and black paisley) I decided to step in and say no.  In the end we decided on a back cotton sateen material with some multi coloured scraps to be used as pockets and wasitbands etc.

I used his basic pants pattern with an extra 1" at the rise all around and an extra 2" length.  This worked beautifully.  I added front slash pockets - with a contrast edging along the line of the pocket.

Back patch pockets in a contrasting colour.

And a contrasting waistband. I interfaced the front of the wasitband as I wanted it to stay as flat as possible and just gathered the back of the wasitband with 1" elastic.  I added cuffs to the bottom of the legs to make them a tad more fancy and for a change added 3 belt loops (He got a belt from cub scouts this year but has no pants that have belt loops so he can't wear it - I promised him that this time I'd add the belt loops to he could wear the belt finally.

And in 24 hours we have a skirt, a top and a pair of pants - not a bad days work!  Now what am I going to wear?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Stained Glass Quilt/Blanket

This project has been finished for a while now but I didn't want to post about it until it had been given to it's recipient - see this was a wedding present for a good friend of mine.

She got married in the second half of last year and she asked me to be her bridesmaid.  Unfortunately due to her being on the other side of the world, and the timing not working for me to be able to get there, I wasn't able to go - so I at least wanted to give her a special wedding present.

Thinking back to my wedding (wow, where have the last 13 years gone), one of the presents that is most used and loved is a blanket that was made for me by my cousin.   The front of this blanket is made from a fabric that looks like it's been pieced together (but it's actually just the print on the fabric), which is then surrounded by a satin border.  The whole thing is then backed in fleece.  This blanket sits on my lounge year round and is just about always in use by someone or another.

 And so a plan emerged to make a similar blanket for my friend.  However for this blanket I wanted the front piece to actually be pieced together, so I started searching for a pattern - something not too fussy  - and came across the idea for a stained glass window look.  Inspiration 1, inspiration 2.  I loved the look of the batik type fabric in the second link, but the different sized panels from the first link.  I decided that neither was perfect and resorted to paint to try and create the exact pattern I wanted.  I created a basic block consisting of 5 panels

I coloured in each square in one of four basic colours, using a black line to separate each panel.  Once this basic block was done I then replicated it till I had 6 columns of blocks and 3 rows.  I changed the orientation of each block so that there was a slight variation throughout.  Looking it over once it was done I decided I needed a few extra colours and for every second block I varied 2 of the 5 colours making 2 sets of slightly different basic block alternating.

Next decision was what fabric to use.  I really liked the idea of using batik so with that in mind I headed to the fabric store.  After much browsing I found a couple of different batik type fabrics that had some gold embossing on them.  There was one that shaded from bright green to bright blue to , bright purple with black and gold designs printed on it, one that was dark green with red patches with batik markings  and and a third that shaded from bright yellow to orange to pink with black and gold tiki markings.  

I found a beautiful black cotton  sateen fabric for the strips between the pieces.  The next decision was what colour to use for the satin edging and fleece backing.  I was originally thinking of a gold colour  - neutral but not boring, but the fleece gold colour was not what I was hoping for.  I instead found a beautiful dark teal colour that had matching satin and fleece.  I decided that this would be a good decision, not too girly, but still bright and beautiful.

To cut out the fabric I created templates out of 1/4" thick ridged cardboard.  To cut out all the squares (and rectangles) I did some calculations  to figure out how many of each shaped I needed in each colour and the just sat myself down in  front of the TV one night and cut out each piece one by one placing the template on the fabric over the colour I wanted and using my rotary cutter to cut each piece out.  Tedious but still the easiest way to get it just right.

The black strips to create each block were all cut out using similar templates.  Then it was time to start putting the blacks together.  My son even got in on the action helping me press each seam after I sewed it.  15 blocks later and it was time to start putting them together.  This is where things started getting slightly out of alignment so it started getting harder.  I tried my best to get it as perfect as possible, taking my time rather than rushing through, but it still wasn't perfect.  But that's OK it was close enough. Once all the blocks were together it was time to get to work on the satin edging.  I made a major mistake here.  I thought that it would be easier if I just cut the piece to the outer dimensions I needed, then cut out the inside square - leaving just enough for the seam.  It seemed like a great idea - but it failed - I could not get those corners to work properly,  I know my calculations were all correct, it just wouldn't work neatly.   Oh well it got done as well as possible.

Now I had a decision to I or do I not interface the satin.  I went back to my inspiration blanket and the satin on that had been interfaced so I decided to go ahead - if nothing else it'd make sewing the backing on a lot easier.  So I started interfacing the satin, and ended up interfacing the entire front face of the quilt - it just made it sit so much nicer - problem was I ran out of interfacing before I could finish - and as there was a storm going on outside I couldn't go out and buy more.  so did I put it away till later - of course not.  Instead I rummaged through my entire stash and found at the back another piece or two of interfacing - slightly different weights but with some judicial cutting and placing I made it work.

The final step was to sew on the fleece backing, turn it inside right and hand sew the last little bit. I then top stitched about 1cm in from the edge around the whole thing and we were finally done.

I am so happy with how it turned out.  I got to give it to my friend and her new husband in person during my recent trip back to Australia and they both seemed to like it so I'm happy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Another round of swimsuits

So I'm still trying to get together everything I need for my trip back to Australia - and that means another round of swimsuits.

I pulled out my entire stash of swimsuit material and let each kid chose what they wanted and also worked with them on what features they prefer in a swim suit.

First up J.  He chose to have green shorts and a blue shirt with green trim.  These were made out of poly lycra fabrics that I bought at the local discount fabric store.  They have a good weight to them.

For the shorts I used his standard shorts pattern with 5/8" cut off all around.  I also cut down the front rise as he really prefers to wear all his pants underneath his belly, very low down, so I figured I may as well cut them that way, rather than cut them higher and have them all scrunched down.

The shorts were very simple. I sewed each seam on the serger and then top stitched in black thread with a zig zag stitch to flatten each seam.  For the waistband I zig zaged a 1/2" piece of elastic around the top edge of the shorts and folded it over twice to encase the elastic and then top stitched it all down with a zig zag stitch again.  The hem is just turned up twice at 1/2" width and stitched with a zig zag stitch

For the shirt I used my basic raglan sleeve t shirt pattern - at a size 8 - with 5/8" taken off each seam. The sleeves were finished with a green cuff.


The neckline was finished with an unstretched neckband about 1.25" wide.  I asked whether he wanted a zipper in the front of his shirt and he said no, but then decided that he would like a half zip, just to make it easier to get it on and off over his head.  To do this I just cut a slit down the front of the shirt to the length I wanted, then turned the edges under and sewed then to the zipper tape leaving an exposed zip.  Again the zipper was top stitched in place with a zig zag stitch.

To finish the bottom edge I turned the edge up to create a wide cuff, and stitched it in place with a zig zag stitch.

shirt with original cuffs and bottom band.
Once I had the shirt finished I tried it on J, and I wasn't overly happy with it.  The cuffs were too large and flared out and the shirt was too short, so I ended up taking off the cuffs entirely  and cutting them down by about 1.25" to make then sit snugly around his arms.

I also changed the bottom hem -  I  took it down again and just turned it under twice at about 1/2" wide.

Both pieces are a little too big, but J will grow into them.  And most importantly he's happy with them.

Next up was L.  She chose a piece of fabric that I picked up from the swim fabric remnants bin at Fabric Place Basement last year.  This material has an ombre colour design fading from bright pink at the selvage to dark purple in the center and back to pink at the opposite edge.   Again it is a good heavy weight fabric.

For the shorts I used L's standard shorts pattern with 5/8" cut off all around.  L prefers to wear her pants pulled up very high so she has a much higher rise on her pants.  For her shorts I cut a yoke that angles  down to center back and center front.

I cut the yoke from the bright pink and the shorts in the medium purple.  Again all seams were serged then top stitched with a zig zag stitch.  The hems were finished by turning up twice at about 5/8" and stitching with a zig zag stitch.  The top was finished by basting 1/2" elastic around the top edge then turning it over twice and top stitching with a zig zag stitch.  All top stitching was done with a light purple thread.

For the shirt I used the same basic raglan sleeve t shirt pattern - at a size 8 - with 5/8" taken off each seam.  I cut it off about 3" shorter than for J and then added a 3.5" band doubled up around the bottom.

I cut the top so that it shaded from pink at the top to dark purple at the waist band. 

The neckline was finished with a thin neckband and the sleeves were turned under once and top stitched in place.

L wanted a full zipper in her shirt.  I only had black in the size I needed so that's what we went with.  The zipper is stitched in place and then top stitched with a zig zag stitch.

I think the bottom band is a smidge too tight which is why shes getting all the puffiness in the shirt, but L loves it and that's the main thing.

And finally more additions to my suits.

I decided that I really didn't like the shorts I made to go with my captain america suit (so called because the material has what looks like Captain America shields all over it).

So I decided to go ahead and make a new pair of pants to go with this top.  Since I didn't have enough material to make these I knew I'd have to buy more, and since the fabric store only sells in yard increments I decided I may as well make a matching rash shirt too.

I didn't realise just how flimsy this material was until after making the suits for the kids, so the first thing I did was line the material for my pants.  I used some teal coloured power mesh that I had, and underlined both the front and the back pieces.

The top of the pants was finished with a 1/5" wide waistband enclosing 1,5" wide elastic. and the leg openings were finished with 5/8" wide cuffs enclosing 1/2" wide elastic.

The rash vest I made using the same pattern as my previous rash vest.

I'm really happy with how this turned out - now to try them out!