Friday, 31 July 2015

Back in time

"I'm going back in time!" R announced a couple of weeks ago.

I assumed she was referring to some imaginative game related to her Little House on the Prairie obsession, but then she pulled a notice from her school bag about an excursion to an 'olden days school'. I felt a bit jealous, because if there's one thing I love, it's olden days stuff. Among my favourite books as a girl were - in addition to the Little House series - What Katy Did, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and, as a token Ausssie contribution, Playing Beatie Bow. I dreamt of a time when girls wore pinafores, wrote on slates and played with rag dolls.

Having this golden opportunity to live my olden days fantasies through R, I did a bit of research to see what Australian schoolchildren wore in the early 1900s. Then, looking through R's wardrobe, I noticed something curious: she already has a heap of old-fashioned clothes, thanks to my beloved Japanese pattern books. All that was missing was a nice white pinafore, and I had the perfect pattern for it: dress A from Happy Homemade. I used some beautiful white fabric with a seersuckerish stripe and lined it with the lightest, softest lawn. I made two small modifications: I cut the shoulder ruffles a little wider for a more 'olden days' effect and - keeping the bodice the same size - I made the dress a couple of inches wider at back and front.

With her new pinny worn over her Japanese ensemble and a couple of giant hair ribbons, I reckon she really looked the part.

I'm pleased to say that R's dress came back from the excursion as snowy-white as it was in the morning, that she passed her fingernail inspection and completed her schoolwork satisfactorily (on her slate, naturally). Now to work on developing some lovely old-fashioned manners...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Japanese pattern ensemble (and an improved skirt)

A comfy and practical little ensemble: a yoke-panel skirt in soft denim (pattern N from Linen Wool Cotton Kids) and the 'back ribbon tunic' - more of a top, really - from A Sunny Spot/Girls' Fashionable & Pretty Clothes, made in some sort of knit I found earlier this year at the Apollo Bay op shop.

The first time I sewed this skirt pattern it turned out way too big around the waist and I had to move the buttons right off the placket to get the thing to fit. It's a beautiful style, though, so I was keen to remake it with a few alterations. For a start, I added flat piping made from some striped jersey and cut the inside yoke from the same fabric. Most importantly, I added elastic to the waist. In case anyone else is after some ideas about how to do this, here's what I did:
  • Before stitching down the inside yoke, I sewed a strip of waistband elastic to the seam allowance inside the left side of the 'outer yoke'.
  • I folded the 'inside yoke' down and sewed a channel into the back part of the yoke while holding the elastic carefully inside it, making sure not to stitch it down.
  • I used an unpicker to open up a 1" hole in the right side-seam of the inside yoke, then threaded the elastic out through that hole.
  • I pulled the elastic out quite a bit, then cut it down and sewed some buttonhole elastic, double-folded, to the end
  • I hand-stitched the inside yoke to the gathered section of the skirt and added a button for the buttonhole elastic to fasten on to.   

(Please ignore the weird reflection on the middle button - I can assure you it looks exactly like the other two!)

Because the skirt has a side opening, the elastic can only be tightened on the non-opening side, but I find that this works perfectly well, and I will definitely be adapting any future 'yoke panel skirts' in the same way. The photo on the right shows what the back of the skirt looks like:

The top was much more straightforward. I used the denimy skirt fabric for the neckline binding/tie but did away with the hem facing - that is to say, I sewed it in, then decided it made the hemline too stiff and unpicked the whole thing. FUN. I ended up hemming the top with a double needle, which made it hang much better. Oh, and I made the sleeves full-length instead of just-above-the-elbow.

To prevent R from making hideous, sullen faces while modelling, I issued a tower-building challenge. She did pretty well.

...Then they fell down.

It was kind of funny watching R look for pockets in the skirt. It took her a while to figure out that there aren't any!

The whole outfit was made with fabrics I already had lying around. I didn't even have to buy buttons! Surely this virtuous sewing behaviour entitles me to a fabric-buying binge in the near future...?