Thursday, 23 April 2015

KCW: forest friends dress

Another hastily-photographed garment on an unwilling model, this time a simple dress from Kids' Clothes Sewing Lesson Book. The star here is the fabric, a beautifully soft Birch knit from their 'Acorn Trail' range.

The fabric is utterly divine, from the unusual bluey-green hue to the sweet little girl and forest animals pictured on it. When I chose it I thought R would probably welcome a change from the plainish fabrics I tend to use, and I imagined her closely examining each little creature on her dress and making up stories about where the girl is going. To go with the dress I made some leggings which match far better in real life than they do in these photos (I promise!) using a corally-pink cotton jersery which had been waiting in my cupboard for this very purpose. They didn't get modelled but they do fit wonderfully, which is more than I can say for most of the leggings I've made in the past!

I've made a dress from this pattern before - see here - and although the neckline of that one is slightly too large (it slips off her shoulder) the fit is otherwise pretty good. So with this version I kept to the same size, adding a bit of extra length, sewing in-seam pockets instead of patch ones, omitting the back closure and using a neckband made of the same fabric. I hoped this last modification would make the neck a little smaller, and while it doesn't slip off R's shoulders like the other dress, it seems a little baggy around the neck and chest - in fact, it hangs quite differently from dress number one. Never mind; the colour is stunning on R, it's had compliments already and - who knows - it may change a bit once it's been through the wash. Oh, and if you're wondering why I'm making a t-shirt dress in late autumn, it's because I didn't have enough fabric to make the long-sleeved tunic I was planning to make!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

KCW: a faux fur hood with ears

Never mind the sewing - the most challenging thing about Kids Clothes Week is getting things photographed. And I don't mean just draping them over a chair - it's having your child put them on and model, knowing that it needs to be done NOW (quick! before it gets dark!) if it's going to get blogged in time. So please forgive the hurried nature of these photos and the (mostly) sullen and irritated expressions on R's face. I basically just stuck this hood on her head while we were at my son's footy training session and snapped away while attempting to distract her with knock-knock jokes (an unsuccessful technique, as it turned out - despite my being the inventor of the world's best knock-knock joke*).

OK, preamble over - now for the details. This is the Faux Fur Hood from Lemon Squeezy Home. The 'fur' is a precut piece from Spotlight, of the less genuine-looking variety, as some of the others were a bit too realistic for my animal-loving tastes. I love the way this hood turned out, and I think it will be wonderful for R to wear throughout footy season when we are forced to spend long hours standing around a windswept oval in all kinds of hideous weather conditions. I'm not sure if R likes the hood or not - she was noncommittal - but I think it looks very cute and I'm tempted to make them for the whole family (except for K, who can't believe anyone would choose to wear anything so ridiculous, and who has specifically requested that R not wear it to his football matches).

A hit or a miss? Only time will tell. But if R doesn't wear it I'll take it for myself, because it's damn cold outside!

Lastly, I should acknowledge the inspiration for this hood: our own little wild thing, Zindzi. Who is much more pleasant to photograph than my daughter.

* Warning: it's puerile. As all knock-knock jokes should be.

Knock knock.
Who's there? 
Europe who? 
I'm a WHAT??
(Equally puerile variations: replace 'Europe' with 'I'm up', 'You're up', 'Dad's up' etc.)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A hide and seek dress

I've been wanting to sew the Oliver + S 'Hide and Seek' dress for quite a while, and here - at last - is my first. I have to say, this dress does not disappoint. I love the way it looks and I love the fit on R. That said, the construction involved a bit more effort than I had anticipated, with several pattern pieces and the added work (although really, it's minimal) of the welt pockets. Maybe I'm just getting lazy... or maybe it's because I've been short of time lately... but it was definitely worth it as the result is so beautiful. 

The yoke is from the same Cloud 9 collection I raved about when I made R's yoke panel skirt, and the rest of the dress is linen-cotton. Not exactly winter-weight, but I think it will look great with tights and a long-sleeved top underneath as the weather gets colder. A big thank you to Leslie of Rosemary Mornings, on whose blog I happened to see a post about how to pattern-match the back yoke pieces. Her method was so quick and easy and I reckon the back of my yoke is just about perfect!

Having read somewhere that the sizing of this pattern is quite generous, I made size 5 with size 6 length (R is about to turn 7) and it worked out very well.

The hide and seek dress looks so stunning on R, my photos really don't do it justice. It didn't help that while I was taking pictures all she wanted to do was muck around with a fibre-optic lamp, nor was it good that the sun went behind a cloud just as I began photographing (only to reemerge the moment after R decided she'd had enough and bolted, which is what she is doing in the photo on the bottom right, above). But never mind - R has a new dress, and I got to sew the pattern I've long wanted to try.

Now I can move on to preparing for R's birthday party on the weekend, when 15 little mermaid friends are coming to celebrate with her...

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter baskets

A little while back I came across a tutorial for rope baskets, so I bought some cotton sash cord, gave it a go and wow - these things are so quick and easy to sew.

For my first basket I dribbled home-made liquid watercolours on the sash cord (if you want to know how to make paint from dried-up markers, click here) and left it to dry before sewing the basket. Then I experimented a bit with ways of finishing the tops of the baskets - I made one with two little handles, and some with one loop - and looked for best way to stop the end of the cord from fraying (I discovered that dipping it in melted candle wax works well).

I used different colour thread for each basket and some showed up better than others, which led me to think about dyeing some of them. Of course for a basket one needs only a small amount, which is why Greek Easter egg dye seemed the perfect solution. And since it's in all the Greek delis at the moment I picked up a couple of colours and went to work.

Instead of boiling the basket in the dye as per the egg instructions, I just soaked it for a few hours in a mix of dye and boiled water. The classic red dye produced a nice matte red shade, a little more subdued than I'd hoped, but I quite like it. The yellow dye worked well too, and I think I'll go grab myself a few more colours to try before stocks disappear from the shelves. 

Now I have a lovely little collection of baskets for keeping hair ties, small change, jewellery and chocolates!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Sleeveless top and yoke panel skirt

I treated myself to the newly-released English version of Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids. It has some beautiful-looking clothes, and although summer is now over I decided to allow myself to be impractical and sew up the lovely open-backed sleeveless top to go with the yoke panel skirt.

I used swiss dot for the top and changed the pattern to make it fully lined. This was a fairly simple alteration to make, but in the process of figuring things out I stupidly managed to sew the front of the swiss dot wrong-side-out, so it's lost much of its dottiness. The back looks perfect though!

I made the skirt in Cloud 9 organic cotton in a fabric from their 'Wildwood' range that I absolutely adore (the others in the range are nice, too - tempting, tempting). I added piping at the yoke and obediently made matching fabric-covered buttons as instructed. Unfortunately the waist wound up way too big for R, and as it's a fitted yoke with a button fastening there's no elastic one can tighten. So I had to adjust the button placement and disregard the specially designed placket. This makes the skirt slightly bunchy on one side, but it's barely noticeable and I think it's a lovely style that I'll be making again - perhaps with an elastic back, though.

R picked Moriarty up as I was photographing her and I couldn't resist including this pic!

I hope we have a few more warm weekend days so R can wear her not-so-dotty top before the cooler weather sets in.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Twirly girl

Poor R has so many clothes, but nothing to wear to dance class. Until a few months ago she wore her beloved pompom tutu but it got torn, and the waiting time for repairs in this household rivals the elective surgery list in Victorian public hospitals - I'm somewhat lazy when it comes to mending. R needed something twirly, something that wouldn't get too crumpled in her dance bag, and that wouldn't take me long to sew (because I have too many other projects on the go and wasn't especially enthusiastic about this one).

Well, if I'd known that circle skirts were so quick to make I would have whipped one up a lot sooner. I used Dana's tutorial and it is very easy to follow. With just a bit of basic mathematics, no side seams and - if you use slinky synthetic stuff like I did - no hemming, it's the quickest skirt around. You don't even need to make an elastic casing, because the waist is just a nice wide piece of elastic that you sew the fabric straight on to. Go ahead and do horrid crooked sewing with lots of thread snarls like I did; it will still look great.

Check out the twirl on this one! Now that I know how little time circle skirts take to make, R can have them in as many colours and patterns as she likes.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Crochet lessons

My lovely friend Sandra - a super-creative mum at my kids' school - has been giving me crochet lessons. You might think that with all this sewing under my belt I'd take to it readily, but you'd be wrong. For the first few lessons I forgot everything the minute I walked out of Sandra's house - and then when I tried to practise at home our kitten Morry would go crazy trying to get my wool. So when we went away on holiday recently I took my crochet gear and a couple of how-to books from the library, determined to get my head around it. Despite the hopelessly dim light at our rented holiday house I managed to get a few things made in the evenings, consolidating what Sandra had taught me with the help of the books.

My crochet ambitions are pretty humble - I just want to be able to make little things like garlands, baskets and trim for clothes. With mild arthritis in my fingers I don't anticipate being able to make clothes, let alone bedspreads and blankets. So I was very happy when I managed to make two garlands and three baskets. The garland pattern is from here although I don't think I followed it correctly, but never mind. The baskets I just kind of made up as I went along, having miraculously remembered Sandra's instructions on how to make a magic circle (the starting point of any circular crochet). They're kind of wonky but I'm very proud of them nevertheless.

My crochet teacher is running the craft stall at the upcoming school fete, and asked me to make a few things for it: chalkboard bunting (I made three, each backed with two different colours of felt) and girls' fabric headbands (I made ten reversible ones). I enjoyed putting together these little items and I really hope they help raise some money for our school.

You know how I mentioned a while back that we got a kitten? Well, we ended up getting two: Morry (top left) and then Zindzi, a beautiful tabby girl (bottom right). They are regular visitors to my sewing room and besides crocheted items are especially fond of dangly bits of bias binding, large pattern sheets from sewing books and magazines, cotton reels and elastic. Nothing is safe from cats around here!