Sunday, 17 January 2016

Pintucked dress with collar

This pintucked dress caught my eye in A Sunny Spot: Girls' Simple Clothes, so when R flicked through the book and announced that she wanted one, I was thrilled! Had I remembered how useless I am at pintucks I might have chosen something else, because I really don't have the knack of lining them up and spacing them perfectly. Luckily I did the back sections first, which gave me a bit of practice before I got to the front. They worked out OK in the end, but I've resolved to buy myself some kind of precision fabric-marking tool (as opposed to chunky bits of tailor's chalk) before tackling anything like this again. Recommendations, people?

If not for the dreaded pintucks (which are on front AND  back sections of the dress) this would be a super-simple sew. The book includes an extensive photographed 'lesson' on how to sew the dress and its adult version, but really the pintucks are the only remotely difficult bit, because the dress is just one piece for the front and two for the back, plus collar and facings. I added in-seam pockets - a lesson for this is included in the book, too - and made an extra-long button loop at the back in order to place the button right under the collar so R's long fine hair won't get tangled in it.

The fabrics are linen-cotton for the dress and a thicker linen for the collar. I spent ages in Spotlight looking at fabrics and fell in love with an overpriced teal linen. Sanity prevailed and I ended up with a much cheaper linen-cotton in this gentle lavender shade, then spent a further half-hour agonising over the choice of fabric for the collar, finally settling on a very light, subtle pink. This colour combination has really grown on me, and I'm so pleased with the way the colours look together in the dress that it's actually going to be hard to let R wear it (ie spill things on it, wipe oily hands on it and go down filthy playground slides on it). But if you love something you should set it free, right? So, into the wardrobe it goes...

Monday, 4 January 2016

The relax dress

Another dress from Fu-Ko Basics, probably the simplest pattern in the whole book - just two pieces plus facings for the neckline. I wasn't sure how this would look on R or whether I really liked it at all, but I was after a nice quick sew after the confusing front placket dress, and that's exactly what I got.

A Japanese friend informs me that the pattern is called a 'Relax Dress', and that the fabrics used for the two dresses pictured in the book are French terry and jacquard knit. I used some rather colourful cotton jersey I'd picked up on clearance a while back, which wasn't quite the understated style I was after, but this was right in between Christmas and New Year and I couldn't be bothered to go shopping. As it turns out, I really like the way the big floral design lends the dress a summery, beachy feeling. Perfect with a pair of thongs for a day at the beach or pool... and having just had an amusing conversation with my son about the different meanings of certain words in American versus UK/Australian English, I feel obliged to clarify the word 'thongs'. These are not undergarments but footwear - what others might call flip-flops, only you'd sound like an idiot if you said that here, because thongs are the national shoe of Australia!

The Relax Dress has a high-low hem and the waist is pulled in by means of a strip of elastic stretched out and stitched to the inside (I sewed mine about 5cm lower than the line indicated on the pattern pieces). The back opening is meant to have a button but I skipped this to avoid tangly hair issues and put in a snap instead. The dress could be simplified even further by omitting the facings and back opening and binding the neckline using a stretch stitch - providing, of course, that you're using stretchy fabric, because I think the dress would be really nice in a light woven as well.

A quick and rewarding sew with a comfy, calming name - there's lots to love about the Relax Dress. And check out K photobombing the picture below!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Front placket dress and a summer cardi

This is the front-placket dress from the lovely Japanese book Fu-Ko Basics: Girls' Clothes I Want to Make, and I would have given up on it pretty quickly were it not for this fabulous tutorial that Sanae put together (thank you! thank you!). There's nothing especially complicated about the dress, but the diagrams for constructing the placket are not very clear, and I suspect that even if the book were in English I'd find this particular pattern hopelessly confusing. With the tutorial, though, it's very do-able and I enjoyed seeing the dress come together. R insists that this is actually a tunic, and perhaps she's right - it did turn out on the short side. It's pictured in the book worn with leggings, a pattern for which is also included, so I tried them out and lo and behold, I seem to have found the perfect pattern for R's skinny legs. I used a lovely light linen from Kim Anh for the tunic and cotton/elastane jersey from my stash for the leggings, pictured below.

I found some beautiful (if overpriced) cotton knit at Spotlight - I don't know what it is, but it's not stretchy enough to be a jersey and not thick enough to be sweatshirt knit - which worked beautifully for this little short-sleeved cardigan. I used pattern F from A Sunny Spot, which is a bolero-length cardigan with buttons down the front, but I made mine waist-length with just two metal snaps at the top. It's comfy, easy to wear and goes with lots of R's clothes, so I imagine it'll get a lot of use. I'm less sure about the dress/tunic, because much as I love it, I suspect it might not be R's cup of tea.

All in all, a satisfying little outfit to sew, even if it's not exactly leggings weather around here. Next up, another dress from Fu-ko Basics - and it isn't blue!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A dip-dyed dress and a kitty bag

First day of summer holidays - yay! Unfortunately it's a stinking hot day - over 40 degrees as I write this - and we're all staying inside with just the odd foray outdoors to hang up washing, rescue wilting plants, retrieve cats etc. I dragged R away from her cubby-house building and persuaded (ie bribed) her to try on this somewhat experimental dress.

Inspired by Toya's stunning dip-dyed dress I had a go at dying some cotton lawn before cutting out the dress pieces. As you can see the results are somewhat stripy and not nearly as amazing as Toya's, but I do love the shades of purple (Dylon intense violet, in case anyone wants to know). The pattern is from this book, which was part of a thoughtful and generous Christmas gift I received from... me. The book has some great patterns, but I am mystified by the use of American food products in the photographs. Was the stylist perhaps a huge fan of Lays chips and Hershey bars? Or is there some uniquely Japanese logic to their inclusion that I don't understand? Anyway, this is top #6, lengthened. I added a few centimetres' width to the front and back pieces for extra body, and the fit is pretty good except that the armholes turned out surprisingly wide. The pattern is almost identical to the Citronille Marie that I made a couple of months ago. It looks cute worn as is, or tied around the waist with some hastily-made tassels on a string. Probably loose will be the way to go, especially given the hot and sticky weather at the moment and the fact that Morry thinks the tassels are a cat-toy and has already had a good chew on them.

Some time ago I saw this fantastic cheetah bag on the Kids Clothes Week site. I checked out the original tutorial and made one for R, using linen for the outside and synthetic fleece for the inside. The fleece gives the bag a good, substantial structure and it feels soft and appropriately cat-like when you put your hand in it. I added press-studs at the ear-tips so the bag can be (kind of) closed, which also prevents the ears from flopping. Despite my less-than-professional embroidery skills, I really do adore this bag and R loves it, too. I made it a few months back and haven't blogged it til now, but what do you know, the purple embroidery makes it a perfect match with the dress!

I have another outfit ready to be photographed, but it's too hot to do anything right now, so I'm going to have to close this hot laptop and retreat to the airconditioned comfort of the loungeroom, which I have been avoiding so as not to have to listen to the sounds of Return of the Jedi being screened at full volume. Melbournians, I hope you're keeping cool today!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Briabaloo: a pinafore dress

Recently I was approached by the lovely Eluned of Sewabaloo to review her Briabaloo, a digital pattern for a girl's shirt dress, pinafore and peplum top in sizes 1-12. The pattern looked very sweet, and I love nothing better than an excuse to sew a pretty dress, so I jumped at the chance!

I made the 'pinafore', which is a sleeveless dress with a gathered waist, in-seam pockets and buttons down the front. I really liked the look of the peplum top's collar, though, so I cut out the pieces for that too, and sewed it with some piping. It was easy to add the collar to the dress and I love the way it looks. The fabric is blue linen from Kim Anh Fabrics.

I'm so happy with the fit of this dress. As the pattern promises, it's loose-fitting with room to grow, but the gathered waist and additional ties at the back (which I somehow managed to stuff up - the casings are meant to sit right on the waistline) give it shape. The pockets are nice and deep for collecting treasures and the construction is beautifully thought-out and detailed, with neck, armhole and hem facings making the finished garment very professional-looking.

Briabaloo isn't what I would call a quick sew, like some of my Japanese patterns with very few pieces, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making the dress and seeing how lovely the finished product looks on R. Eluned's pattern instructions are absolutely superb, with clear illustrations and very well-explained steps to guide you. This is easily the most detailed and professional digital pattern I've come across from a small independent designer. Also, the pattern PDF includes layers, allowing you to print out the size you want, which makes cutting out the pieces so much easier. For my little beanpole I made a size 4 with size 6 length and the fit is just right.

Check out R's vampire teeth in the photo below! I was so glad I got a picture of them, because right after I did, one of those wobbly teeth fell out. Now she just looks like a one-fanged vampire.

As well as the Briabaloo, Eluned has a cool kids' animal costume pattern, and her blog is worth following for the sewing tips and tutorials she posts. She recently blogged a fabulous Christmas sewing wish-list, which should be essential reading for partners of sewing enthusiasts (if my husband is reading this, he should check out this link!). Thanks, Eluned, for the chance to try out your pattern. I couldn't be happier with the result.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

KCW - a summer outfit

So often I read on someone's blog that they just 'whipped something up' in an hour or two, and I am always amazed and impressed that anyone can sew that quickly. My own sewing always seemes dogged by interruptions, mistakes and the discovery that I am lacking certain crucial items (zips, buttons, thread). But last night I surprised myself by whipping up something super-quick. Something straightforward, with a two-piece pattern and with no zips or buttons. And it was SO satisfying!

This little singlet in cotton jersey was a nice easy sew, even with a few modifications. I used this free pattern from small dreamfactory - it only goes up to size 4, but that size is spot-on for R's measurements. To get a less tightly-fitting singlet I added a few centimetres to the width of front and back pieces and gathered the neckline and back before sewing the bias tape (which was just a length of the same jersey, cut cross-grain). I also crossed the straps at the back for a bit of interest - the pattern has them going straight down.

The shorts are from Kids Clothes Sewing Lesson Book and were made last week, so not strictly a Kids Clothes Week item, but I'm throwing them in anyway. This is a really cute pattern with front and back pockets and an elasticised ribbed waist. I used a French terry from Darn Cheap (another $2 p/m find, hooray!) and I really hope R will wear these despite her anti-pants stance because they fit her so beautifully.

In a final, frenzied burst of activity this afternoon, I sewed a bucket hat from this tried-and-true Oliver + S free pattern. I made size L, and as with my last version, I broadened the brim, added grommets to feed a strap through, and eliminated the hand-sewing by using this easy method. Having lots of scraps of striped jersey lying around my (insanely messy) sewing room, I added faux piping to the edge of the brim so it matches nicely with the singlet.

Now I'm looking forward to taking a breather and checking out everyone's projects on the Kids Clothes Week site!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

KCW - a party dress

Every little girl needs a party dress, right? Well actually, no - not when birthday parties typically involve such activities as trampolining, swimming, racing around play centres and going wild in a giant room full of inflatable things. But do you think I'm going to let the fact that R doesn't need a fancy party dress (complete with tulle petticoat) stop me? No. As the mother of a girl, it is my right to make one, so make one I did!

I wanted a fitted bodice and a full skirt, so I diverged from my Japanese pattern books and bought Dana's First Day Dress. It's such a cute pattern, and seemed perfect for the job. But it turns out the back closure is basically just a small slit with a button, and I could imagine the shrieks of outrage from R as I tried to pull it over her head. I decided to do a little modification and use an invisible zip instead, a nice long one that extends into the skirt. This worked really well and I don't think I'd make the dress any other way now. I also recut the neckline a little to make it lower - this thing has a super-high neck - and I'm happy with this change, too. I fully lined the dress - instructions for this are included in the pattern - and spent an unhappy few hours trying out various ways of adding a layer of tulle between dress and lining. I eventually hit on a solution that didn't look ridiculously bulgy, which was using a folded-over section of cotton lawn for the top part of the tulle petticoat, and gathering the tulle before sewing it to the lawn, sandwiched between the two layers (I have no idea if that makes sense, but it's late, I'm tired, and also I don't really want to revisit the trauma of sewing the tulle). The result is rather nice even from the inside, and it hangs well.

The fabric is Dear Stella Confetti Dot, which I got on sale a while back when I ordered some stuff from Fabricworm. I like it, but fear it may be horribly crinkly once washed. Time will tell! The lining is cotton lawn which is lovely and soft. I bought a few metres so I'd have plenty left for future projects, then wasted most of it making stupid mistakes with the lining. In fact, the litany of errors, blunders and stuff-ups made during the construction of this dress could fill an entire blog post, if not a series of them. Honestly, I'm surprised I emerged from this experience with a decent garment and my sanity (kind of) intact. Marisa's law: whatever can sew wrong, will sew wrong.

I made the bow on R's headband using the Oliver + S felt bow pattern. These things are so quick and satisfying to make - and I know my finger will recover from the glue-gun burn in no time at all. I didn't have any felt, but I think I've found my favourite use for all those scraps of Mexican oilcloth I can't bear to throw away.

How is Kids Clothes Week treating you?  I hope your sewing is not as frustrating as mine has been!