Thursday 25 January 2018

Tiered skirt and too-big singlet

Another summer outfit for R, inspired by a beautiful blue linen-cotton found at Darn Cheap. The skirt is a simple tiered skirt with an elastic waistband from Kids Clothes Sewing Lesson Book; it's the sort of style you could easily figure out yourself but from time to time it's nice to use a pattern. The one in the book has attached shorts underneath, but I didn't want those so I just left them off. There's really nothing much to say about this skirt except that you shouldn't make one of these if you don't like gathering!

The top is a free pattern from, widened a bit (too much, as it turns out - this is one that will definitely still fit next year!) and gathered a bit at front and back. As with the last one I made, I crossed the straps at the back. They are a bit loose, so some further adjustment will be required. The fabric is cotton jersey leftover from a previous project.

With more super-hot days coming up in Melbourne, loose skirts and singlets are going to be the things to wear!

Saturday 13 January 2018

The summer of short dresses

Having coveted this dark green Nani IRO double gauze for several years, I decided it was time to buy some (a Miss Matatabi sale last year was the straw that broke the camel's back!). I used a pattern from Kids Clothes Sewing Lesson Book, modified to remove the ruffled sleeves and the front pintucks. The dress fastens at the back with long ties.

I've sewn this dress before so it really should have been a straightforward exercise, but when I tried the finished bodice on R it was too wide, perhaps due to replacing the tucks with gathers. I had to redraft it - once I'd unpicked my beautiful armhole facings and french seams, that is. But it all worked out in the end and it's exactly as I'd imagined it: a simple, sleeveless short dress to show off the beautiful fabric with its neon spots (and the long, brown legs of its wearer!).

Now for the green dress - it's another one I've made before. For this I used a fabulous bright green cotton jersey from Spotlight (all the more fabulous for having been found on the clearance table!).

It's a very simple pattern which is also from Kids Clothes Sewing Lesson Book - a great book which has loads of useful patterns and includes detailed photographic 'sewing lessons' for several of them. I made only one change: leaving off the pockets. The dress fastens with a press stud at the back, concealed by a little bow. R's new shorter hairstyle is perfect for dresses with a back detail - very pleasing!

I love the simple lines and short length of the dress, and R loves that it's easy to pull on and off. Win, win.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Fairy tale dress for big brother's Bar Mitzvah

Yesterday was K's Bar Mitzvah. It was exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures, and after spending last night washing dishes and today rearranging furniture, I have no energy left even to write about it. I will say, though, that while I often worry about the aspects of parenting that I could have done better, I did look at my boy yesterday and feel a sense of pride that I had helped him reach that special day. It wasn't easy!

But enough about that - you're here for the sewing. No clothes were sewn for the Bar Mitzvah boy, although I did post his tallit bag on Instagram,  but his sister demanded a special dress and chose the sleeveless version of the Oliver + S Fairy Tale dress, without the collar. She chose the fabric, too - a cotton lawn from Spotlight. Not the fanciest of fabrics, but in the end it was perfect for the occasion as we had a relatively informal afternoon tea for friends and family back at our house, complete with backyard cricket.

I was indecisive about whether to go for the sash tie or the sewn-on, lower-key bow, so I left the dress plain, then made a full sash (the one in the pattern is sewn in at the side seams and ties around the back) and tacked it on at the seams so it could be removed after. R laughed and laughed when she saw how giant the sash bow was - she looked like a present! It did give the dress a festive look, though.

Photos were a last-minute affair so they're not exactly great, but the Fairy Tale really is a lovely dress to sew, and once you've made your muslin to get the bodice size right (I made two, then sized up for a longer-lasting dress) it really isn't difficult, especially without sleeves and collar. The layer of tulle under the skirt gives it a bit of extra shape without being uncomfortable for the wearer and the invisible zipper instructions are excellent.

R had lots of compliments on her dress and she looked utterly angelic in synagogue - until she started viciously pelting her brother with sweets. Throwing sweets at the Bar Mitzvah boy is a traditional part of the service, but she was still going long after everyone else had stopped - and she put that bowling arm to good use! I had to drag her back to her seat so the service could continue!

Now that the big event is over and the house is - kind of - back to normal, I'm looking forward to my own fairy tale ending: putting my feet up and bingeing on leftover croquembouche.

Friday 6 October 2017

Summer dress in teal knit

I'd been admiring this beautiful teal fabric in Spotlight for at least a year, so when it appeared on the clearance table recently, I pounced.

This is a simple little dress adapted from pattern O from Girls Style Book. I improvised a front placket instead of having a slit at the back of the dress, and left off the patch pockets, but otherwise it's exactly as per the pattern. The Birch organic knit was nice and easy to sew with and I love the colour SO much.

White wall plus blazing sun plus strong wind doesn't make for the greatest photos (nor the most pleasant experience) but the dress really looks lovely on R. It's a little looser than I'd intended, so I hemmed it to be it just above the knee instead of shortening it further, which had been my plan. This way she can wear it again next summer and it won't be too mini.

R has grown out of so many of her clothes, which is wonderful as there's nothing I love more than sewing summer dresses. Time to start cutting out my next one...

Thursday 28 September 2017

A tried-and-true dress with ruffled sleeves

Dress J from Girly Style Wardrobe - I have made it so many times, most recently in merino. Although just about every Japanese sewing book I own has a similar pattern, this one suits R so well that I'm happy to forego being adventurous in favour of the tried-and-true. It's also quick and easy to sew, provided one doesn't make too many stupid mistakes - more about which, below!

Once again I ditched the back placket, substituting a slit with bias binding ties (the neck is bound anyway, so it's the obvious modification). I also shortened the sleeves and added large ruffles. Then I tried it on R and realised the ruffles were too low down on the sleeves - so I redid them. Then I tried it on R and realised the ruffles were... no this is not an editing mistake, but it sure was a sewing one. It took me THREE goes to get the ruffled sleeves to work, by which time this 'easy-to-sew' dress had turned into a bit of a nightmare, due entirely to my winging it rather than adapting the sleeve pattern piece properly. But I got there in the end!

The fabric is a denimy-coloured cotton from Kim Anh Fabric. I couldn't get R to take her (too small) leggings off - it wasn't quite warm enough for that - but I'm thinking it'll be a good trans-seasonal dress with or without leggings, cardigan etc (assuming she can get a cardigan sleeve over those ruffles!).

We went down to the local 'school' to take some photos - it's actually a former school that is now a massive green space full of grass and trees (the photo at the top of this post shows the 'secret entrance' to this garden paradise). Sad to think it will soon be turned into little boxes for people to live in. R is outraged at the thought that many of the trees will be chopped down, as am I. Not to mention the issue of the State government selling off our school sites to developers...

But on a more positive note, the weather is getting warmer, the air is full of jasmine and we have some special holiday activities planned. Bring on springtime!

Wednesday 23 August 2017

A silver skirt

In my last post about the Burdastyle miniskirt I mentioned that the pattern is actually for a metallic imitation leather skirt. Spotting a roll of silver stuff in Spotlight recently, I thought I'd try version 3 of this pattern with the fabric it was intended for. And I'm rather pleased with the result.
Sewing this skirt was not the most pleasant experience, due to the tendency of the fabric to stick under the presser foot and the necessity to avoid using pins (which make holes that remain visible after sewing). Sewing with the wrong side up helped the fabric to move under the foot smoothly, but I found that wonder clips left indentations on the fabric and washi tape was less than ideal for holding things together. Still, I muddled my way through and managed to assemble the various pieces, even doing a bit of double-stitching on the front pockets and hem.

I modified the pattern in the same way I had done for version 1: I sewed buttonholes at the sides of the inside waistand, then threaded buttonhole elastic through the back part of the skirt for a better fit. The fabric is surprisingly soft and comfy on the inside due to cotton backing, and the fit is really quite nice. R's eyes widened with excitement when she saw the silver skirt, and she insisted on wearing it into town today. I thought she had quite a 60s vibe in her mini and black top and leggings!

Sadly, modelling was cut short when R realised she'd left her new water bottle at the Japanese place where we'd had lunch, meaning we had to hike across town to get it. After that, things went downhill rapidly - her feet were sore, she was tired, she didn't want to be photographed etc etc. Still, the skirt is a huge success and I know she'll wear it often!

Sunday 6 August 2017

Burda + Ottobre + A Sunny Spot = a new outfit

Three garments, made in bits and pieces over the past few weeks:

1. Ottobre (Autumn 4/2010) 'Montparnasse' hooded jacket
2. Burda miniskirt revisited, and
3. A Sunny Spot's 'Ribbon tie tunic'.

First, the jacket. Luckily for me, I noticed a tutorial for the jacket on the Ottobre blog - what a find! This made it super easy to sew, even though I mixed up elements from the two different jacket styles (I made the longer jacket with the gathered pockets and hood elastic of the shorter version) and ended up with a zip that was slightly too short (totally deliberate, naturally). The fabric is a midweight cotton French terry that I picked up at an op shop a while back, and the hood lining is a scrap from another op shop fabric, so all I had to buy was the too-short zip and a new double needle as my old one had disappeared. Love the fit of this jacket on R and will happily use this pattern again.

Next, the skirt. A while back I made a denim mini for R using the same pattern, which is actually called 'Girl's metallic skirt' and is intended to be made in metallic faux leather. I loved the skirt but R wouldn't wear it because the zip and waistband fastening were scratchy - it needed a fly guard. So I remade the whole thing in a denim that R chose, adjusting the waistband so I wouldn't have to elasticise it like I did last time and - of course - adding an improvised fly guard. Although R is really happy with the new skirt, I don't like it as much as the old one. The denim isn't as nice a colour, the less A-line shape doesn't look as good and the waistband is still too big. Clearly I will have to have a third go at this one!

The top is a simple little pattern from A Sunny Spot - you can see my previous version here. I made this one the same way, lengthening the sleeves and omitting the hem facing. Although it is not what I would call tunic length, the 'tunic' cut gives it a nice flare at the bottom. For this one I used cotton jersey bought on clearance at Spotlight, so it was another cheapie.

Yesterday was freezing and windy (and today is even worse!) so I had to photograph quickly, but I predict the hoodie in particular is going to get a lot of wear.