Friday, 23 January 2015

A mermaid costume and a homemade gift

I love sewing and have certain standards for the things I make. I'll unpick and re-sew (often several times) until I get things perfect, and visit shop after shop to find the exact right cord or ribbon. When it comes to kids' costumes, however, the opposite is true. Almost every costume I've ever made has been a slapdash, lazy effort replete with dodgy gathering, shonky hemlines and a few safety pins making up for less-than-perfect fitting. Because the costumes may only be worn once, and because I'm just not that into making them, there's only so much time and effort I'm prepared to put in.

So I wasn't planning to blog this outfit, whipped up the night before R's friend's party for which mermaid attire was required. But when she tried it on (ten minutes before the party was due to start, with me holding the safety pins in preparation) it not only fitted her perfectly, but she looked so gorgeous I pulled out the camera and started snapping away.

The outfit is self-drafted, if cutting and sewing by eye can even be called drafting. The skirt is just a stretchy tube with some ruffles at the end, and the top is bandeau-style (another tube, really) with halter-neck straps. The fabric was Spotlight's cheapest sparkly stuff and has a kind of psychedelic blotchy yellow-and-green effect going on, but it's perfect for mermaid clothing. I used stretch stitch throughout, but the fabric is actually not all that stretchy so getting into the car was a bit of an ordeal for poor R. Fortunately the skirt/tail can be hiked up and worn as a short, pouffy skirt (which looked really cool - wish I'd taken a photo of it) so as to be able to play party games, dance and outrun other children during the treasure hunt.

For the birthday girl I made a 'make your own cubby house' kit similar to the one I made for my nephew last year. My own kids adore building cubbies but are constantly frustrated by the difficulties of getting sheets and blankets to attach securely to chairs. The kit solves this problem with a bunch of clamps (SO much better than clothes pegs), some rope, and loops and ties on each corner of the sheets (I use strips of jersey and add loops/ties at the centre of each long edge too). A few glow sticks add mood lighting to the cubby house, or you can throw in a torch like I did last time.  I packaged the whole lot  up in a tote bag made from Ikea fabric - I love this fabric, and am really pleased I have some left so I can sew myself a bag too! Check out this tutorial for more details of cubby house (or 'fort') kits.

I suppose I should make my kids their own kit now, but last time they built a cubby - just a few days ago - a cat pooed in it. Nice. So I'm not that into cubbies at the moment, but I truly hope our little mermaid birthday girl enjoys hers!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pineapple dress

Pineapples are all the rage, so a friend told me recently. All I know is that this cotton knit fabric called out to me from the racks of Darn Cheap Fabrics, and since I didn't think I could get away with wearing so much tropical fruit, I made a dress for R.

The pattern is dress M-2 from the Japanese Sewing Lesson Book and while I loved the look of it on the model in the book, it came out a little baggy on R - this despite my having used my usual trick of making the width a size smaller AND taking a couple of centimetres off at the centre folds of front and back. Never mind, it still looks pretty good and it's bound to be very comfy to wear.

This pattern is a simple one: just front, back, sleeves and pockets, but the little details of the angled pocket tops (see photo above right) and the cute bow closure at the back (almost too cute, but I knew R would love it) make it special.

Anyway, who doesn't love pineapples?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cushions and a kitten

For nearly a year now a selection of Japanese fabrics from Spotlight has been languishing in my fabric cupboard waiting to be made into cushion covers. And at last - in the absence of any other  sewing projects - I got around to making them. They may not be the most exciting thing to make, but they certainly provide great aesthetic return for a very small amount of effort! 

The big cushions are simple 50 x 50cm squares with a zipper at one side. I used these cushion inserts from Ikea and cut the fabric the exact dimensions of the insert because I find that not adding any seam allowance makes the covers fit more snugly. I like to use this method for inserting cushion zips, setting the zips in 5cm or so at each end for neater corners.

For the one smaller cushion I had run out of the beautiful tree fabric and used some thick linen for the back. It looks so good, I really wish I'd done the same for all of them! Oh well, next time...

This is how the cushions look on our couch. But hang on - who is that sleek black creature with the white whiskers? Allow me to introduce our new kitten, Moriarty. We have all fallen completely in love with him and I could probably write a very long blog post about his beauty, his outrageously playful and daring antics, his cuddliness and his ability to locate cosy and cute places to sleep - but I'll spare you. I will say, though, that it's nice to have someone around who truly appreciates R's wardrobe!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Spotty New Year

Cosi swimsuit number two: the same style as the first one, but in a 'proper' swimsuit fabric. I still love the first one I made but the scuba knit fabric isn't holding up that well, so I thought I'd better re-make it in something more appropriate.

I bought the white spotty material at Joelle's Fabric Clearance Warehouse, which I discovered when searching for swimsuit fabric on Ebay. I noticed their physical location was quite close to where I live, so one day I set out on a swimsuit-fabric-buying mission and was not disappointed - this place has loads of the stuff and it's quite inexpensive. The spotty fabric was a huge piece of remnant that cost me only $5, and I also got some UV-rated chloroban fabric in pink stripes to make a two-piece out of.

As with my first Cosi the straps are tied in a halter-neck style. I left them long and just tied little knots in the end to keep them neat. And because white fabric tends to be a little see-through, I fully lined the swimsuit with some lining from Joelle's.

R wore her new bathers to the local pool the other day and looked so cute in them. As I've said before, I really recommend this pattern for anyone wanting to give bathers a go. I also heartily recommend the use of ice creams as a modelling prop (a.k.a. bribe) - this was far and away the most pleasant photoshoot I've ever done!

Happy 2015, everyone!